How to Activate and Use an eSIM for South Korea: Beginner Guide

eSIM cards are the newest and most convenient way to get data and calls while visiting South Korea. Using an eSIM in Korea will help you stay connected right from the moment you arrive, so you can start your exploration in this country right away. This beginner’s guide will teach you everything you need to know about using an eSIM for South Korea. Here you will learn:

  • What is an eSIM for South Korea?
  • Why it benefits travelers in South Korea
  • Factors to consider before purchase
  • Checklist before installation
  • How to buy an eSIM for South Korea
  • How to install and activate eSIM for South Korea by phone models
  • Frequently asked questions by travelers about eSIM for South Korea setup and activation
How to activate and use eSIM for South Korea

I. What is an eSIM Card for South Korea? An Easy Explanation for Beginners

1. What is an eSIM for South Korea Travel?

An eSIM is an electronic or “embedded” SIM card stored on your phone instead of a physical nano-SIM card. It works like a physical SIM Card, allowing travelers to access mobile data, calls and text services without the need of swapping or inserting a SIM Card. The major difference is eSIMs are directly downloaded and activated on your phone.

For South Korea travel, an eSIM lets you access a Korean data plan and possibly phone number remotely. This means you can set up cell phone service before you even land in South Korea.


  • If your phone is carrier-unlocked and eSIM-supported, you can use eSIM.
  • If your phone is not compatible with eSIM, either change to another one or use a Korea SIM card as alternative to eSIM.
eSIM for Korea
eSIM for Korea

2. Types of South Korea eSIM for Travelers

There are 02 common types of eSIM plans for South Korea: data-only and data +  voice and text plans. 

The former is preferred by most travelers while the latter is chosen by businessmen who need to make analog phone calls or send SMSs.

3. Why Should You Get eSIM for South Korea Travel?

Usually, when traveling to Korea, tourists often cope with the problem of buying a local SIM card so as to connect to mobile networks. But, this is a time-consuming process because it requires effort and time to find a trusted provider, buy the SIM card, register personal information and activate the SIM.

Using an eSIM card for South Korea will not require you to do anything of the above.

Below are the most appreciated benefits of eSIM by travelers: 

  • Save effort in finding, buying and possibly queuing for eSIM purchase
  • No need to swap out or manage a physical SIM card
  • Save money on roaming charges
  • Set up cell service remotely before your trip
  • Easily change plans or carriers while traveling South Korea

So in short – eSIM cards make getting connected in South Korea incredibly convenient!

Now, you should review a checklist of factors to consider before purchasing an eSIM for South Korea.

II. Pre-purchase Checklist for a South Korea eSIM

Before getting an South Korea eSIM, consider the following factors to ensure that you pick the right eSIM plan:

  • Phone compatibility – Make sure your device (smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, etc) is unlocked and compatible with eSIM technology. See a full list of phone models working with eSIM.
  • Carrier support: Not all South Korean carriers offer eSIM plans for tourists yet. Research in advance to see which carriers (like KT, LG Uplus, SK Telecom) offer eSIMs.
  • Know your usage: consider how much data will you need for a South Korea trip
  • Purchase method: either bought directly from carriers’ websites/stores, or through 3rd-party resellers, or travel SIM providers.
  • Coverage area: check coverage map of carriers in your destination
  • Pricing: compare princess across eSIM providers
  • Customer support: know how to contact customer services of the eSIM provider if issues happen
  • Reviews of other users to understand potential issues before purchase

Pro Tip:

  • Go with reputed brands like Gigago over shady providers
  • Researching this information will ensure you pick the right eSIM plan.

III. Pre-Installation Checklist for eSIM South Korea Travel

Before installing the South Korea eSIM onto your cell phone, review this checklist:

  • Verify if your phone is unlocked and supports eSIM
  • Clear enough storage space on your cell phone 
  • Update the latest iOS or Android OS
  • Backup data of your phone in case any problem appears.
  • Turn off iMessage (for iPhone) because it may interrupt SMS
  • Install carrier apps if any
  • Disable auto updates on your device until the eSIM is activated already. 
  • Know activation steps to avoid getting stuck mid-way
  • Prepare activation details already (Wifi connection, QR code, other activation details)

Completing this checklist sets you up for smooth sailing!

IV. How to Buy and Download eSIM for South Korea

Purchasing your South Korea eSIM is quick and easy:

  • Choose an eSIM provider for South Korea (Gigago, KT, LG Uplus, SK Telecom, etc.)
  • Choose a data plan that fits your needs 
  • Make a payment 
  • Confirm the order and check email 
  • Download eSIM activation packet on site or via emailed QR code

Pro Tip: Be sure to download this eSIM profile to store locally as a backup.

V. How to Install and Activate eSIM South Korea on iPhone

Time needed: less than 10 minutes

To install an eSIM for South Korea, you need to go through 2 phases: before departure and after arrival in South Korea.

1. Before departure

  • Connect iPhone to WiFi
  • On your iOS device, go to Settings > Cellular.
  • Select Add Data/Cellular Plan/Add eSIM.
  • Scan the eSIM QR code that you have received.
  • Choose the Add Cellular Plan button to save the eSIM details.
  • Label your eSIM profile as you want (i.e. Gigago eSIM), and tap Continue.
  • Set your eSIM profile as the Default Line (if your data eSIM comes with a phone number) or select your Primary number if your data eSIM does not come with a phone number), then choose Continue.
  • Set your eSIM profile as the default Cellular Data > choose Done.
  • Turn on Data Roaming to start using your eSIM.

Note: if  you cannot scan the QR code sent by your eSIM provider because of certain reasons, you can still activate the eSIM manually by entering the information attached in the email. 

Set up eSIM South Korea on iphone using QR code - step 1-3
Set up eSIM South Korea on iphone using QR code – step 1-3
Set up eSIM South Korea on iphone using QR code - step 4-6
Set up eSIM South Korea on iphone using QR code – step 4-6

2. Upon arrival in South Korea

  • Turn on Airplane mode
  • Turn WiFi back on
  • Go to Settings to finish eSIM activation
  • Select Korean eSIM line
  • Wait several minutes and voila – it will activate!

VI. How to Install and Activate eSIM South Korea on Android

Installing a South Korea eSIM on Android devices like Samsung and Google Pixel phones follows a similar process to iOS.

1. Before your trip

  • Connect Android phone to WiFi
  • Go to Settings > Connections to start the eSIM installation.
  • Tap SIM Card Manager 
  • Tap Add mobile plan (your cell phone will search for an active plan with the operator already).
  • After your mobile plan is found, tap the Scan Carrier QR code to scan the QR code using your camera.
  • Select Confirm/Add to save your eSIM profile (depending on your device).

Note: if  you cannot scan the QR code sent by your eSIM provider because of certain reasons, you can still activate the eSIM manually by entering the information attached in the email. 

Set up eSIM Thailand on iphone manually - step 1-3
Set up eSIM Thailand on iphone manually – step 1-3
Set up eSIM Thailand on iphone manually - step 4-6
Set up eSIM Thailand on iphone manually – step 4-6

2. After arriving in South Korea

  • Turn on Airplane mode
  • Reconnect WiFi
  • Open provider app or Settings to finish activation
  • Select the South Korea eSIM line
  • Wait a few minutes – that’s it!

VII. Which Korean Mobile Network Carriers to Choose for Your eSIM Service?

Korean mobile network operators to choose - esim for south korea

South Korea has 03 major mobile internet providers which are SK Telecom, KT, LG Uplus. All three carriers have eSIM services for tourists to South Korea. 

Generally, the coverage in big cities of South Korea like Seoul and Busan is excellent, even you can expect to get 5G in some areas. However, it is wise for tourists to evaluate the network performance when visiting more rural areas of the country away from urban centers.

To know which carrier to choose for your eSIM plan, take a look at our quick recap of each carrier:

CarrierSK TelecomKTLG Uplus
Service optionsLeading service provider, part of SK GroupState-owned, offers a range of telecom servicesCompetitive telecom services
CoverageWide 4G/LTE coverageGood nationwide 4G/LTE coverage4G/LTE focused on big cities
SpeedFast speeds in cities(download 5G speed: Highest at 469.6 MbpsUpload 5G speed: 19.0 Mbps)Reliable speeds and performanceModerate speeds and coverage(download 5G speed: Second highest at 429.6 Mbps;Upload speed 5G speed: Highest at 19.7 Mbps)
eSIM planseSIM for tourists has limited dataCompetitively priced tourist eSIM plansDon’t offer specific tourist eSIM plans
PriceMid-range pricingBudget friendlyLeast expensive carrier overall
Expat AccessibilitySame, potential upfront costsRequires Alien Registration Card, passportSame, potentially easier for short-term stays

From the table above, we can see that KT has the best combination of nationwide coverage, speed, tourist plan options and reasonable pricing. SK Telecom also provides good coverage and speeds but is more expensive. LG Uplus has limitations for travelers needing nationwide use.

Our Recommendation: You can choose between KT and SK Telecom as the network carrier for your eSIM plan. 

  • If you want to experience fast speed, excellent coverage, and don’t mind about the price in compared with the value gotten, then go for SK Telecom
  • If you are a budget-traveler while still wanting to experience the advantages of eSIM, go for KT.

VIII. Is eSIM reliable in South Korea?

Yes – eSIM technology has become very mainstream around the world, including most major travel destinations. South Korea’s networks fully support eSIM capabilities.

All three major Korean carriers (KT, SK Telecom and LG U+) allow eSIM activation on iPhone and Android devices. You’ll get the same solid coverage and speeds as local Korean SIM cards.

IX. FAQs about using eSIM for South Korea Travel

Can I use eSIM for South Korea and another country after?

Definitely! An unused eSIM doesn’t expire so you can save it for future trips. Just download a new activation packet when traveling somewhere new.

How do I download an eSIM profile on different devices?

An eSIM profile can only be installed on one device at a time. When you download an eSIM profile, it is uniquely linked to that specific device. There is no way to transfer an already downloaded eSIM profile from its original device over to a new device.

Will the eSIM work in North Korea?

Unfortunately no. eSIM networks only operate in South Korea at this time.

How’s coverage outside cities and rural areas?

Generally excellent as South Korea has countrywide 4G/LTE networks. But always check carrier coverage maps if planning remote travel.

X. Conclusion

Activating an electronic SIM card is easy with this guide. eSIMs make getting online abroad convenient and hassle-free. Simply download a South Korean data plan remotely, finish setup when arriving, and enjoy seamless connectivity throughout your trip!

With prepaid eSIMs, you can avoid roaming fees, tedious SIM card swaps, and give your regular SIM a break. Have an incredible and connected journey in South Korea!