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South Korea Calling card

South Korea Calling cardTelephone, calling cards, mobile phones in South Korea.

Calling to and from Korea doesn't need to be expensive. There are several ways you can save money when making phone calls.

If you have a computer and an internet connection you can call very cheap by using so called 'voice over ip' software to call your family and friends. One of the most populair programms is skype. Visit www.skype.com for more information. If you have a microphone or headset you can call for free to any other computer with skype. The quality is most of the time perfect. Crystal clear sound, better than a telephone line.

Skype also offers 'skype out'. This means you call with your computer to a normal telephone anywhere in the world. The prices are on average lower than calling cards.

Another option is to buy a calling card, also known as prepaid phone card.

What is a prepaid phone card?

A prepaid phone card allows you to make the long distance phone calls. Your payment for the card buys future talking timel. Each time you use the phone card to make a call, the talking time will be automatically reduced. You can use cards like this through any pay phones on street or at home.

When using a prepaid phone card, you can make any domestic or international long distance phone call. You don't pay monthly statement fee, switch fee or other charges besides from the call charge.

If you are living outside Korea and want to make a call to Korea there are several companies who sell cards. Just compare the prices, some cards look cheap but are actual more expensive because they only advertise with basic tariffs, the little disclaimer always mentions that rates for international calls may vary. Check this before buying a card.

There are also Korean companies providing phone cards for domestic and overseas calls. You can buy these cards at numerous places in South Korea and Seoul. At almost every streetcorner you will find a phone shop where cards are sold. There are also cards available at 7/11, minimart, family mart and other 24/7 mini supermarkets.

One important thing when travelling from Europe (and most other countries). Your mobile phone will NOT work in South Korea! It does not matter if you have duo, triple band or other new gadgets, just forget it. Feel free to try but be prepared for it. A short explanation about mobile phone systems:

GSM (Global System for Mobiletelephones) is one of the few mobile phone standards. It is the closest thing there is to an international standard. GSM systems are used in nearly 200 countries worldwide, from Europe throughout Africa, Asia and Australia. Non GSM countries include South Korea and Japan.

What do they use?

CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) This standard was developed by QualComm, from which providers must license its use. There are CDMA networks in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, El Salvador, Guatemala, Israel, South Korea, Peru, Russia, Venezuela and Zambia. It offers some international roaming capability but nothing like the near-global coverage available from GSM carriers.

Of course there are several solutions for this problem. You can rent a mobile phone at Incheon Airport upon arriving in Korea. This solution is only advisable if you plan to stay shortly in Korea. Otherwise it's too expensive.

There are also a lot of (small) companies which rent out mobile phones. By the way, they call it a handphone over here. Do not ask for a mobile phone because they might not understand your question.

If you plan to stay long, for study or work you better buy a 'handphone'. In Korea new mobile phones are not cheap and telephone companies do not offer cheap phones when subscribing. Still everyone seems to buy the latest models. A nice telephone with some interesting gadgets like a camera, internet or automated paying at convenience stores could easily cost KRW 600.000 (USD 600).

Because most Korean customer buy a new model every year there are a lot of second hand mobile phone dealers for the smart or financially challenged people. These mobile phones are good, checked and are yours fort anything between KRW 100.000 and 300.000 (USD 100 - 300). After buying you only need to subscribe with a provider. Both subscription and costs for calling with your mobile are low. We pay less then 40.000 won for two phones per month (average usage).
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