The best apps for expats in South Korea


We invite you to share information regarding some of the apps that have helped to facilitate your move abroad in South Korea. This will help expats-to-be who are making the move as well.

Which apps did you use while preparing your move to South Korea?

What apps do you use the most for your everyday life in South Korea: whether it's for transport, managing finances, general information, learning the language of your host country, leisure activities, etc.?

How does this technology help you in your everyday life as an expat?

Which apps would you recommend to expatriates in South Korea and why?

Thank you for sharing your experience.


Applications in Korea tend to be written only in hangul (the Korean language), so they are often useless for non-Korean speakers.  Because I tutor in Korea, I rely on CNN, a subscription to the New York Times, the BBC, and a publication called Korea Expose for student topics. Material can generally also be found on Google.  Facebook occasionally is useful.  The two major Korean newspaper, the Korea Herald and the Korea Times use a significant portion of their content from international sources, such as Bloomberg, and both newspapers can be found online.

Because of Korean visa restrictions and the reluctance of expats to exchange in serious business ventures, largely because it can be illegal to do anything other than teach and/or work under the restrictions of their Korean visa sponsors, expat interaction in Korea can be limited to socializing.  This is different from my experience in Europe.

I rely on my US credit cards, because it can be challenging to use non-Korean credit cards, and use of PayPal for transactions just within Korea cannot be done.

In general, if you rely on the applications you were using before you arrived in Korea, you'll be fine.  Keep in mind, that most ESL related applications were created outside of Korea.  In general, if you cannot read hangul, you have to rely mostly on the sources I have mentioned.

This posting mainly deals with apps used in Korea.  Please rely on the Facebook and Google accounts you used before you arrived in Korea.  Koreans rely on the local monopolies - Naver, Kakao, and Daum for instant message and Internet services and their English language customer support is almost nonexistent.

There is another thing to keep in mind.  Most financial transactions are done by bank transfers and if you present most bankers with a check, especially if it is a personal check, you will run into a room of blank looks.  Very few Koreans ever use a check.  Use the banking apps you used before you arrived in Korea and get a friend or spouse to help you with Korean banking online services, because those are the services you will use when you do your normal transactions in Korea.

The easiest way to transfer money to Korea is to open a US  brokerage account.  Very few international brokers want to deal with their South Korean counterparts and you, once you have moved to South Korea.  My suggestion is to open an account at TD Ameritrade, because they won't abandon you once you have moved to South Korea.  Then, whenever you intend to wire money to South Korea, the international wire will be free, but the Korean banks will charge you about $20 (20,000 won) for allowing them to receive your own money.  This is by far the easiest, safest, and cheapest way to do it, as US commercial banks tend to charge you a lot more when they wire money.  However, the Korean bank will still hit you with their standard fee.

Please do not close your foreign bank accounts, because you will need them, nor should you cancel your non-Korean credit cards.  You have a lot of trouble getting a Korean credit card and most of them come with an annual fee.

Kakao Map is great for directions. It can show your location on the map and show directions with bus numbers, bus time, subway line numbers, subway time, and taxi fares. A little Hangul skill is needed. Otherwise, Google Map but not as accurate.

New topic