November 26, 2023

How Korean People and Tourists are Connected with Free Internet (Free WiFi)

Smart Tips

When landing at Incheon or Gimpo airport and taking those first steps in Korea, many travelers contemplate whether they should purchase a U-SIM card for uninterrupted connectivity. But what if I told you that Korea's vast free WiFi culture might make that U-SIM card seem less essential? Intrigued? Dive in with me.

1. Understanding Internet Speed in Korea:

One of the most remarkable aspects of Korea's digital infrastructure is its blazing-fast internet speeds. Even before you venture into the heart of Seoul or Busan, you'll notice that hotels, regardless of their star rating, offer free WiFi that's robust enough for you to stream high-quality movies at 1080p resolution. 

Hotels are just the beginning. From cafes and restaurants to popular public locales such as 청계천 (Cheonggyecheon Stream) and 한강공원 (Han River Park), Korea's internet speeds consistently match or even exceed global benchmarks. According to the 2022 communication service reception area (coverage) inspection, public WiFi speeds averaged 336.21Mbps. To put it into perspective: that's swift enough to download an HD movie in mere minutes. Bus travelers aren't left in the digital dust either. On average, bus WiFi in Korea clocks in at an impressive 104.10Mbps, ensuring that your journey is entertained and connected.

2. VPNs: Your Digital Safety Net in Korea:

While the free internet is fantastic, security should always be a priority, especially if you're a tourist accessing your bank details or booking tickets. Enter the realm of VPNs. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows you to create a secure connection over the internet. Think of it as a private tunnel only you can access.

There are numerous VPN service providers available. Interestingly, there's no significant difference in service quality among the top providers. For tourists on a short visit, a good strategy is to opt for providers that offer a free trial period. This way, you can enjoy the benefits without an immediate commitment. Not only do VPNs provide an added layer of security, but they can also help you access content that might be region-restricted. So, while you're sipping on your morning coffee in a Korean cafe, you can still catch up on your favorite shows from back home.

3. The Vast Network of Free WiFi Locations:

Seoul wifi location map

South Korea has always been at the forefront of technological advancements, and its approach to public WiFi connectivity is no exception. As of September 2023, Seoul alone boasts an impressive 23,297 free WiFi spots. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Across the country, there are a staggering 94,547 free WiFi locations ensuring both locals and tourists remain connected.

Wi-Fi location map throughout Korea

Historical aficionados won't need to compromise connectivity for culture. While exploring 인사동문화관광지구 (Insadong Cultural Tourism District) or 종로노인종합복지관 (Jongno Senior Welfare Center), devices will effortlessly latch onto free WiFi networks. And for those drawn to the pulsating modern beats of Korea, neighborhoods like 홍대 (Hongdae) and 강남 (Gangnam) ensure you're always online. Prefer a tranquil setting? Serene spots like 뚝섬한강공원 (Ttukseom Han River Park) and 여의도·양화한강공원 (Yeouido & Yanghwa Han River Park) have got you digitally covered. 

So, whether you're sharing a snapshot of street art, video calling amidst skyscrapers, or simply searching for the next destination, Korea's extensive free WiFi network has you supported.

4. Navigating the Free Public Wi-Fi Service in Korea:

Navigating Korea's digital landscape is a breeze, but like any foreign environment, a guide can be handy. Here's your step-by-step guide to staying connected:

Accessing the Regular Public Wi-Fi in Seoul:
  • Locate Available Networks: On your device, navigate to the wireless network settings and scan for available networks.
  • Choose the Network: From the list of available networks, select the one labeled "SEOUL/Public Wifi Free."
  • Browser Activation: Once connected, launch your device's default web browser. You'll be automatically redirected to the Public WiFi connection page.
  • Finalize Connection: On the connection page, there will be an option labeled "Use Public Wi-Fi." Click the button next to it to initiate and finalize the connection.
Accessing the Secured Public Wi-Fi in Seoul:
  • Scan for Secured Networks: In your device's wireless network settings, search for available Wi-Fi signals.
  • Connect to the Secured Network: From the available networks, choose either "SEOUL_Secure" or "Public WiFi Secure."
  • Enter Credentials:
  • For "Public WiFi Secure": Username(wifi), Password(wifi)
  • For "SEOUL_Secure": Username(seoul), Password(seoul)
  • Launch Browser: Open your device's default web browser. You'll be directly connected to the internet without any additional pages or prompts.

Benefits of the 'SEOUL_Secure' Connection:

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has enhanced citizens' convenience and security by distinguishing the public Wi-Fi identifiers (SSID) into two categories: the general connection ‘SEOUL/Public Wifi Free’ and the secure connection ‘SEOUL_Secure/Public WiFi Secure’. 

One of the significant benefits of using the 'SEOUL_Secure' connection is its retention feature. Once you connect to the 'SEOUL_Secure' network using the ID and password (both set to "seoul"), your device will remember this network. This means as you traverse through Seoul's major streets, parks, traditional markets, welfare facilities, and even buses, your device will automatically reconnect, offering you uninterrupted internet access throughout your journey.

Discovering and Testing Free Wi-Fi Locations:

For those who like to be extra prepared, there's a handy app that not only helps you locate free Wi-Fi spots around you but also lets you test the internet speed. This can be especially useful if you're planning to engage in data-heavy activities like video streaming or large downloads.

For Android [Click here to download the app.]

For iOS [Click here to download the app.]

By following these simple steps, you can seamlessly connect to Korea's robust digital infrastructure, ensuring that your online experiences are as memorable as your offline adventures. Safe browsing!

In essence, Korea stands as a beacon of how tradition and technology can co-exist harmoniously. From the ancient palaces of Gyeongbokgung to the neon-lit streets of Gangnam, a consistent internet connection ensures your memories are shared in real-time. If your trip to Korea demands a 24-hour internet connection due to business or other critical needs, purchasing a U-SIM card might be a good choice. However, for most travelers, the nation's expansive free WiFi culture suggests rethinking that U-SIM card purchase. With numerous WiFi hotspots available at every corner, it might just be an accessory you can forego. Safe travels and happy browsing!

If you're curious about traveling in Korea using only a credit card and leaving cash behind, delve into the article below:

"Can You Travel Cashless in Korea with Just a Credit Card?"

If you're looking to discover the essential apps you'll need while traveling in Korea, take a moment to explore the article below:

"What Apps Can Foreign Travelers Use in Korea?"

If you're curious about how to breeze through the departure process in just 10 minutes, click on the article below:

"Incheon Airport Departure Procedures: Leaving in 10 Minutes"

If you're wondering where you can unwind and stretch your legs for free before your flight, explore the articles below:

"Finding Comfort at Incheon Airport: Free Relaxation Spots in Terminal 1 & Concourse"

"Unwind Before You Fly: Discover Terminal 2's Free Comfort Zones at Incheon Airport"

If you're interested in indulging in a multitude of complimentary programs offered by Incheon Airport before your departure, be sure to delve into the article below:

"The Best Things in Life Are Free: Exploring Incheon International Airport's Must-Try Attractions!"

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