East Asia has long been the technology playground of the world with newer devices and technologies not yet available in western countries. Korea is no exception and has fantastically fast and easy internet access. There is internet almost everywhere you go through mobile telecom providers, coffee shops like Starbucks, on the high speed trains, underground in the subway, and of course in your apartment.
Teachers can usually get connected in their apartments without a service charge, if agreeing to a one year contract. You can ask your school or co-workers for advice on this. Some of the best schools will have you already set up and ready to go when you arrive. The average cost for at home DSL internet service is about $30 to $40 US dollars a month. Oh and the speeds are blazing fast. We love Korean internet connections. But don't take our word for it, check out the results of Akamai’s “State of the Internet” report.
"PC bangs" are Korea's version of an Internet Cafe and are also known as 'game rooms.' They offer easy access to the internet for those who are not connected at home and you can find these cafes in all residential areas. If you are teaching English in Korea for a summer or winter camps for a month or so this is definitely your best option. Of course, your school may have access on-site so as long as you do all your internet surfing and email checking before you leave work you will be fine. If not, the PC bangs are very affordable with services costing about 1,000 Won or $1 US per hour. Hardly enough to break the bank. The downside to PC bangs is that they can be loud and smoky. Lots of young adults play games here all day and they smoke while they are playing. The better PC bangs have separate rooms for smokers, but not all of them. Find one with a smoke-free room if you plan on using them regularly.
There are three main providers for at home internet: Dreamline, SK Broadband (Hanaro), and Korea Telecom. Of course many cable companies will offer internet and cable in a package so this is what we use. Most Korean TV is as you can guess, in Korean so lots of foreigners do not get cable and watch movies or tv shows on DVD or their computers. Here's the contact info for the main internet providers, but we do suggest asking your boss and/or co-workers what is best for the area where you live.
|Company||Website||Phone service in English|
|SK Broadband (Hanaro)||www.skbroadband.com/||080-828-2106|
Mobile internet service is a little more tricky to set up as you need a service contract. We talk about this in our section on mobile phones. It is not impossible, but you may need a Korean friend or boss to help you set up a service contract. It's a pain to deal with this, but we have to understand the service providers concern: will you leave the country without paying. We know you would never do anything like this, but they need to be careful. If possible get a mobile phone service contract as there are numerous benefits to this including mobile internet for your phone.