Being a foreigner in Korea can be hard – especially if you don’t speak Korean!
Before you begin to pick up on the language, tasks as simple as ordering food or shopping online can be incredibly difficult. This is especially true when considering that most of these websites/apps don’t have English variants.
That isn’t even mentioning the more difficult tasks such as finding housing in Korea or banking!
However, recently a few services have begun to appear which are trying to make life in Korea as a foreigner that little bit easier. These are the English services that are bound to make your life in Korea easier!
Visiting Korea? Check out this list of basic Korean travel phrases!
If you don’t want to order food, why not explore Korea’s best food market?
Food delivery in Korea is ah-may-zing. Really, it’s one of the things that Korea does best.
The excitement can quickly wear off when you see the front page of Yogiyo and the barrage of pop-ups and text that appear in Korean.
Luckily, there are a few different services out there to help foreigners order delivery food.
Shuttle is one such service. Operating from 11 am until midnight, they serve both Korean and English speaking customers around Korea. Conveniently, they also offer both iPhone and Android apps making the service extremely easy to use.
They have a large range of restaurants that they deliver for and you are bound to be able to find what you want. What makes them outstanding, however, is that they can also pick up additional items for you if you require.
For a 20% surcharge, they can also visit the convenience store and purchase additional items that you might require. Whether this be soda, ice, or cigarettes, they can deliver for you in addition to your meal.
Finally, and importantly for foreigners, they also accept many payment methods. Paypal, credit cards, cash, and Bitcoin are all accepted.
Help Me Emo
If Shuttle doesn’t have what you want, or you just want to check out an alternative service, then make sure to check out Help Me Emo!
The name might catch you out at first, but it makes a lot more sense when you consider that emo means ‘aunt’ in Korean!
HME will help you order any food that you want but might not be able to order due to communication issues. Simply add their ID ‘helpmeemo’ as a Kakao friend and talk to their helpful, bilingual staff.
The best part of Help Me Emo is that they are both cheap and country-wide. They can help you no matter where you live in Korea – all for the small fee of 2500KRW! That’s about $2 USD and it’s a flat rate.
The price alone makes this service attractive to use. However, it’s even better when you consider the cheap price and that the location doesn’t matter! As long as it’s between 11am and midnight you can order all the food you want with HME.
Other Apps for Ordering Food in English
It is worth keeping in mind that many of the chain stores also provide delivery apps that are available in English. Stores such as McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC usually provide English options within the apps.
Housing and Accommodation
If you are looking for a goshiwon, check out Goshipages!
Finding housing in Korea as a foreigner is one of the hardest tasks. Not only because it is a difficult task to begin with, but also because the language involved can often be very complex.
While there are a few English realtors in Seoul, the best from my experience is Ziptoss. For a comparable price to local (Korean speaking) realtors, Ziptoss provides the whole process in English, Japanese and Chinese.
From finding the ideal place fitting your requirements all the way to signing the contract (which can be done in English) and even with post-contract issues, Ziptoss will help. Whether you are looking for a short or long term rental, they have many listings for both.
With thousands of properties in Seoul they are bound to have a place for you. The service is not only fast, but also professional and seamless. If you are looking for an English realtor in Seoul, then make sure you consider Ziptoss.
Goshipages is the go-to site for foreigners to find goshiwons in Seoul.
Often finding a goshiwon can be hard, because the owners will only speak Korean or will have very limited English. However, goshipages can find the ideal goshiwon for you in Seoul – all for free!
They will help find you a goshiwon and will organise the details with the owner with no further required input from you. Since they have a business model where they are paid by the owners, they are able to provide these services at no additional cost to you!
While many students live in goshiwons, they are also ideal for traveling to Korea on a budget. Short term accommodation can be found at a local goshiwon for as low as 20,000KRW per night! It’s a fantastic option if you want to keep costs low while maintaining some privacy.
42 share housing in Seoul.
If living alone sounds nice but you are worried about being lonely, then 42share in Seoul is a fantastic option. They provide private (or shared) living arrangements that also have communal areas and are one of the best student housing options in Seoul.
It can be hard to make friends in a foreign country and Korea is no exception. Luckily, 42share is here to help with that! If you are like me, you would prefer to have a private room. However, it’s hard to meet other people that way.
42share solves this by also providing communal areas in their housing. These areas will allow you to meet others and socialise while also having the benefits of a private space.
On top of this, they also have some fantastic locations around the city and host events from time to time. They are a fantastic option for student housing in Seoul and definitely worth considering if you don’t want to be lonely while in Seoul.
There are a lot of great places to shop in Seoul. However, sometimes you need a hand!
Even tasks that are usually as simple as shopping can be hard when you can’t speak or understand that language. That is where Modyuda comes in.
This shopping service has a few different uses. If you need a shop assistant to help you with something, they have services available. I can imagine this being particularly useful if you are trying to shop in a market – especially Namdaemun Camera Market or Yongsan Electronics Market.
However, this is far from all that they offer! What if you don’t know where you can purchase a good? Or simply don’t have time to purchase it yourself? What if it’s something that you can’t buy online?
Then you are in luck! Modyuda can help you with all of your shopping tasks. They are also ideal if you are just stopping over in Korea – they can do your shopping for you and drop it off at your accommodation leaving you free to enjoy the must-do activities in Seoul.
If you need a mobile plan in Korea, then check out these plans!
Korea has some of the best internet speeds in the world. Unfortunately, accessing them isn’t always that easy!
While some of the big carriers have English customer service (both KT and SKT have some level of English assistance), they are far from perfect.
Woori Mobile Service
This is where Woori Mobile Service comes in. They offer a multitude of different plans depending on your wants and needs. On top of this, they also offer home internet and used phones. Really, they cover all internet and mobile phone needs.
They offer full services in English, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese with fluent staff. They will make sure that everything is clear and there aren’t any issues with the contract that you might not be aware of.
Even if you are coming to South Korea for only a short period, Woori is a great choice. They offer both short-term and long-term plans and they provide a great alternative to the SIM cards offered by Klook and Trazy.
Currently they have a few stores located around Seoul. All of these stores are staffed with people fluent in English. If you would prefer to contact them online, you can do so on their Facebook page. Their customer service is very nice and are always willing to help!
Another mobile service for short-term visitors to Korea is NeokSIM. While they don’t offer plans for longer term visitors and people who live in Korea, they are a great option for travelers to the country.
Most of their plans are data only, however, they do also have plans for people who need calling minutes and texts. If you are just in need of a data plan or a WiFi egg, then NeokSIM are a great option.
Tours Within Korea
I recently went on a tour to Daedunsan with Ktourstory.
It can be quite easy to get stuck inside the cities of Korea and to totally forget that there is also some wonderful countryside to explore. If you ever find yourself in this situation, check out Ktourstory.
They run many tours all over Korea ranging in both length and cost. If there is somewhere in Korea that you are interested in visiting, they probably have a tour available.
Their tours have guides who speak both English and Chinese and they will guide you with information about the location that you are visiting.
I have been on two of their tours in the past few months and both of them have been fantastic. Not only where the locations fantastic, but the tours were well organised and the guides fluent in both information and English.
Seoul Mate is a fantastic service for those looking for free tours in Korea. The tours are run by local college students and they are a great way to experience Seoul while on a budget!
The guides are college students who are enthusiastic to show Seoul to the world. The experiences I’ve had with members of their team have been great and I can happily recommend them.
Their tour schedule varies depending on the time of year. However, they have an updated calendar on their website. Typically their tours are run on Saturdays and they will have a variety to choose from.
So, if you want to experience Seoul in a unique (and cheap!) way, then I highly recommend checking out Seoul Mate!
Personal Assistant in Korea
If you need a personal assistant in Korea, Gowonderfully is your best friend!
While all of the other services in this list are great at what they do, they can be a bit specific. However, what if you need a service that can help you with a task that is totally different – say you need help buying baseball tickets? Or what if you need to reserve a dinner?
This is where Gowonderfully excels. They offer personal assistant services in Korea and are here to help you with any translation services that you may need. Whatever you need assistance with, they can help.
The service costs 800KRW per minute of support. While this might seem like a lot initially, it isn’t much when you consider how versatile and useful the service is. If you refer a friend, you can also get a 25% discount!
Gowonderfully is perhaps the best and most versatile translation service in Korea for both minor everyday needs and also more unusual difficulties that you may need assistance with.
Seoul’s taxis are famously good!
It can be hard to order a taxi when you don’t speak Korean and can’t under the app! If this is the situation you find yourself in then don’t despair. Korea has international taxis available in multiple languages!
You can easily order the taxi in the language of your choice (English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean) from their website. Not only can you choose a pickup location and time, but you can also choose which type of taxi you need!
Although Seoul’s Public Transportation is fantastic, it can be hard to understand initially. There are always times when a taxi can come in handy! If that’s the case, make sure to use Seoul International Taxis.
If you are someone who would prefer to bike than take a vehicle, then you are in luck in Seoul. For only 1000KRW per hour you can hire a bike in nearly any part of the city and use it as you wish.
The bikes are incredibly easy to pick up and drop off and there are bike stands all over the city.
Recently the app became available in English and although it’s definitely not good – the app is still definitely flawed, it’s a good start. While the app does need some UI improvements, it’s great to have it available.
If you are someone that enjoys biking, or you just want to make the most of some good weather, then make sure to check out the hire bikes all over Seoul. They are a great system that the city has implemented.
Best English Services
Although living in Korea can be hard at times, it is getting much easier these days thanks to a lot of innovative and helpful services.
I will be adding to this list over time as I find more services. However, I am sure there are some that I have missed!
Is there anything that you would add to the list?