Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Pretty soon I will be traveling for Korea for two weeks. I'm pretty stoked about this!

What I was also pretty stoked about was using the Google Translate Android app for the Korean language. It allows two people who speak different languages to alternatively talk, then it uses voice recognition & translation to allow them to communicate. It's pretty cool.

What is less cool is my cell phone provider. I am generally very favorable towards T-Mobile. Their customer service has been excellent and I have been a happy subscriber for almost ten years. But I want to use my cell phone in Korea on a data network so I can take advantage of Google Translate and other fine apps. But guess what?

International data roaming is $15/MB. Fifteen dollars per megabyte!!! 

That is insane. A quick browse of my phone's "Data usage" app reveals that I use anywhere from 80MB to 1.1GB in a two week period. In other words $1200-$16,500 at these rates. Other providers have plans that you can upgrade to if you know you are going to be using lots of international data roaming, but not T-Mobile. (My friend Jeff told me he pays $20 a month extra for unlimited international data roaming!) This is also insane because South Korea is one of the most mobile-friendly countries on Earth. Please T-Mobile, get with the program here.


  1. Hi! I strongly advise you to rent a mobile there. You can rent a mobile with a sim card at the airport with quite reasonable prices. And you can also add a data usage.

    Before you go, you should definitely check this web page
    and also search for some vouchers online.

    We were there last month and rented a mobile with %50 discount!

  2. Hi HTŞŞ!
    That's really helpful. Can you tell me approximately what data rates I might pay at the airport? Either for phone or data? We'll be there for approximately 2 weeks, if it makes a difference...

  3. We were also there for 2 weeks but we didn't buy data usage because...
    There are lots and lots of coffee shops there, I mean one shop per 50 metre or so =), and they serve free wireless. What I did was just standing near a coffe shop and pushing my iPhone to get my e-mails or using google map and taking some screenshots.

    If you don't buy data usage you can rent a lot cheaper mobile. Renting only mobile and simcard without data is 3000Won but we have downloaded a %50 discount coupon and so, rented for 1500W per day.

    Keeping your bbm or iphone with you with your own sim card (never using it for and phone calls or anything) but letting it to get your e-mails or so is the cheapest way I think.

    If you need more info about anything related with South Kore, you can also contact me via


  4. Sounds great! Thanks for the advice.

  5. Hi, I'm "the other" in that "we" on the previous comment :)

    I think renting a smartphone with a 1GB/day data packet was 10000won (5000won with voucher) per day (~$4.50/day). Yes, South Korea really is a mobile friendly country :)

    Extra info: S.Korean SIM cards are different then what we have here in Europe.

  6. That's great Onur! I think we'll do that, renting a phone, and these prices seem pretty great.

    FWIW: Do you know if the SIM cards are different because it's a GSM vs. CDMA thing? Or it is something else.

    It probably doesn't matter, since we'll probably just rent a phone like you suggest, but I'm just curious.


  7. I ended up going with Telecom SK:

    It was nice because I could reserve it ahead of time and know what I was going to pay, and their web site is in English. But there are plenty more places where I could have done it, probably for less money!

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