Tips for Adoptive Familes traveling to Korea: Phones

EPs! Referrals! So much great news in the past few weeks as the Korean ministry begins moving forward with international adoptions once again.

The next step will be travel calls. It's almost been a year since we received our travel call and my heart still beats fast as I remember the excitement, anxiousness and joy that call brought. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that soon friends who have waited this long year for the EPs to beging again will get their calls and be making the trek to Korea to complete their families.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of the travel information I have amassed. There's so much to share that I'm actually breaking it up into several posts.



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To take a phone or not? If we were to do it again, I'd definitely opt for a phone. You can purchase calling cards very cheaply to call back home, but that means you always have to call from a land line. We found it very difficult to do this as we were rarely in our hotel room. Reasons to have a cellular are:
  • staying connected with family back home (especially if you have children who did not come on the trip)
  • staying in touch with the adoption agency in Korea--more importantly--they will have a way to contact you!
  • connecting up with other adoptive families/friends in country
  • taking advantage of the translation/tourist services available by phone while in Korea (see phone services section below)

So, if you opt for cellular service, it's cheaper than you might think. Here are some of the ways you can stay connected on your trip.

Use your own phone: Check with your current cellular plan provider. Many phones are now capable of international service and you can sign up for a short-term international plan with your provider. You will need to check if your phone model is capable of international use. Also make sure you know if texting is included in the plan. (We had an iPhone and it was an international version. We paid a small sum for the international plan with our provider. However, it did not work when we were in Korea, so we didn't have a phone for the trip.)

Rent a phone: Renting a phone in Korea seems to be quick and easy. And fairly inexpensive! Look for the rental kiosks at Incheon airport and Gimpo. S'Roaming is a rental agency there and from all I've read, most people have had great experiences with them. They rent both mobile and smart phones and you can reserve your phone in advance. You can see their rates on their site. There are also other rental agencies available. (CHECK OUT THIS SITE for more info.) I have not rented from any of these agencies though, so I can't attest to the actual process or service. If you rent a phone while in Korea, leave a comment and let us know how it went!

Rent a phone & use your SIM card: You may also consider renting a phone in Korea, but using your SIM card in the phone. This would allow you to use your own mobile number. Not sure how that affects prices/rates on your US plan. Check with your provider.

Calling card: If you opt to go sans cellular, you can always pick up calling cards and phone home. They are really cheap and easy to use.

Korea has some amazing phone services designed especially to help English-speaking travelers. We used the interpretation service once to help a cabbie figure out where we were trying to go. It was awesome!

  • MEDICAL EMERGENCY 1339: English speaking doctors are available to give medical info 24-hours a day. Dial 1339 without area code when calling from within Seoul. To call from a mobile or outside of Seoul, dial 02-1399.
  • TRAVEL PHONE 1330: 24-hour service provides travel info and interpretation services! Info on tourist attractions, shopping areas, and travel packages, available in 17 different languages. Dial 02-1330. This is not a toll-free call.
  • CRIME REPORT 112: 24-hour service where foreigners can report crimes to the Korean National Police.
  • INTERPRETATION SERVICE 1588-5644: Volunteers provide translation services for 17 different languages. When you need to communicate with someone (cab driver, hotel staff, shop owner, etc.) you give them a call, talk with the translator and hand the phone over to whomever you are trying to communicate with. Don't you love Korean helpfulness?!

1 comment:

  1. We rented a phone in Korea, it wasn't too difficult, just a basic phone 'just in case'. I was going to try using my own but couldn't figure out the sin card thing! I have a quadband phone so it should have worked but it was so cheap to rent I think I'm happy with that.


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