There are more mobile phones in Korea than there are people! You’ll be hard pressed to ever find a Korean without his trusted cell phone (called ‘handphone‘ locally) at his side. Getting a mobile phone is fairly straightforward once you have a alien registration card (it’s nearly impossible to get without). Visit any cell phone shop visit, preferably with a Korean colleague or friend and see what options are available. It’s a good idea to get a cell phone as soon as you have your Alien card, since this will be the primary way your boss and school will communicate with you.
For smartphone owners, messenger applications are the most popular method of conversation. Of these applications, KakaoTalk seems to be ubiquitous. It’s already used by almost half of the population (over 90% of those with smart phones) and is gaining popularity internationally. If you’ve got a smartphone and a decent data plan, KakaoTalk will allow you to connect with your friends in Korea and at home for free.
To phone home from Korea you need to use the following country codes. Use this order: Dail 001 + country code + area code + phone number
New Zealand: 64
South Africa: 27
United Kingdom: 44
United States: 1
If you plan to call friends and family at home a lot, you may want to invest in an annual or monthly Skype plan. This will cost you about five bucks a month for unlimited or virtually unlimited calls.
Skype has long been a favourite of expatriates and I’m sure you’re familiar with it. If not, it basically allows free video calls between two people that have Skype installed on their computer. Distance is no issue, calls remain free. Skype also allows you to call to land lines and cell phones from your computer at a very low rate (especially to the States).
Another great way to keep in touch with relatives and friends abroad is too use an online messenger like Skype, MSN, Google Talk or Yahoo! Messenger. Did you notice the parenthesis around the first number of each area code?
If you’re calling from within Korea, you need to use all three numbers (eg. 010-xxxx-xxxx). If you’re calling from outside of Korea, you only need the first two numbers, after the country code (eg. 82-10-xxxx-xxxx).