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Prepaid data-only SIM card for Korea

Prepaid data-only SIM card for Korea

Old Apr 25, 22, 4:40 pm
  #1  
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Prepaid data-only SIM card for Korea

When I travel I usually buy prepaid data-only SIM cards for the location I'll be in (my phone plan does not work outside if North America).

The only place I've ever had a problem with this is Korea. I've been there once (5 years ago, so I'm not sure if things have changed) but this simply did not seem to be an option. I tried to buy something from a 7-11 but it required activation using a passport, and after I jumped through their hoops the activation still failed (I ended up doing a chargeback for the purchase when I got home). I ended up finding a store in Itaewon... the guy repeatedly told me it wasn't an option and then ended up selling me a prepaid SIM from a different Asian country (I don't remember which one) that had roaming all over Asia included (I'm not sure if this was shady or not... he certainly wasn't advertising that he had them for sale). This worked fine, but I was without connectivity for my first few days there until I found this store.

Later I noticed that in the HKG airport they sold SIM cards that had roaming to a wide variety of Asian countries. This seemed like a good solution, except, I'm going back to Korea in August and I will not be in Asia (and certainly not Hong Kong) before that.

Given the problems that I had last time, I would really like to have a solution in place before I leave. Is there a reputable online store that will ship prepaid SIM cards which can roam in Korea? I live in the US so I would need them shipped here.

I'll also be in Europe before that... if buying online is not an option, are these available for sale in HEL or FCO airport? HEL at least is a fairly major Europe-Asia gateway (I'm not sure about FCO). I've never seen anything like that in a US airport (but maybe I haven't been looking in the right places)
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Old Apr 25, 22, 8:07 pm
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LG U+ data-only eSIM (not all phones capable - need to check your hardware): https://www.uplus.co.kr/ent/glob_2/i...dDataESimE.hpi
travel site shipping a physical prepaid SIM (check reputability of this site for yourself; it doesn't immediately set off any flags for me, but I also didn't spend too much time analyzing): https://www.trazy.com/experience/det...-term-discount

is there any particular reason you require prepaid, though? T-Mobile and Google Fi are both pretty standard options for frequent international travelers primarily (>6 months per year) based in the US
(there's also a minor ancillary benefit here: using both a non-Korean SIM card and phone means you're not forced to have a camera shutter sound)
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Old Apr 25, 22, 11:44 pm
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I only have one line (no family plan or anything) and single line postpaid plans are ridiculously expensive. So I use tmobile prepaid for $40/month instead of the $70+ a postpaid line would cost me. For $5 I can add on Mexico and Canada for a month (and I do that for the months when I travel to Canada or Mexico). But there's no international option beyond that without going to postpaid.

In most places a data only SIM is about a dollar a day. The only place I've ever had a problem is Korea. Everywhere else I've been, I just buy a SIM at the airport and I'm good to go. I can use Google voice if I need to make a call, or find wifi and use wifi calling with my T-mobile SIM.

I could just pay the extra cost for T-mobile postpaid but I don't like the idea of being ripped off because I'm single.

Thanks for the links; I'll take a look.
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Old Apr 27, 22, 10:27 pm
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So, it looks like even though my phone has an eSim, it's not enabled. I'm going to need a physical SIM.

Any suggestions? It seems like non-Korean SIMs that roam throughout Asia (including Korea) are far cheaper than Korean options. I'm just not sure where to look.
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Old Apr 28, 22, 8:23 am
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I've used Sim2Fly from the Thai cell provider AIS in many countries, including parts of Asia. It's never let me down, and I intend to use it again during an upcoming trip to Korea. See here. You can pick up their SIMs on Amazon, eBay, etc. And you can purchase the eSIMs directly online. Just read all of the instructions carefully.
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Old Apr 28, 22, 11:22 am
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Originally Posted by sonetsst View Post
I've used Sim2Fly from the Thai cell provider AIS in many countries, including parts of Asia. It's never let me down, and I intend to use it again during an upcoming trip to Korea. See here. You can pick up their SIMs on Amazon, eBay, etc. And you can purchase the eSIMs directly online. Just read all of the instructions carefully.
Do you purchase from a 3rd party or do you buy direct? Can't find it on Amazon for a decent price.
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Old Apr 28, 22, 8:47 pm
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Originally Posted by TravelLawyer View Post
Do you purchase from a 3rd party or do you buy direct? Can't find it on Amazon for a decent price.
There are some 4GB / 8 day ones for $3.57 but they are sold from Amazon warehouse and the condition is listed as "used -- like new". I just bought a couple. Prime shipping and free returns so if the package is not sealed or they are expired (is there an "activate by" date?) I'll just return them.

Price seems a little too good to be true but I figure it's worth a shot for $7
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Old Apr 29, 22, 2:11 am
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There's a lot of discussion here but no actua answer given haha.

Korea has WEIRD verification laws for ANY SIM, so you MUST provide your passport as ID to activate the SIM card. The operating carrier must activate it. That's why SIM in stores won't work because the process is for locals and not the tourist market. And those carriers are cheap third party marketing companies using the bigger networks.

The ONLY option for tourists are: KT Roaming (direct from the source), SKT direct, LGUPlus direct, OR you buy a SIM from Trazy, Klook, etc. travel services providers that are reselling them in bulk. I prefer KT Roaming because they are the most expat friendly and they do it all at the airport for you.

Get off Amazon. Korean SIMS work nothing like SE Asia or other places.
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Old Apr 29, 22, 8:13 am
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@mikesaidyes thanks for the reminder to look on Klook. That's the route we go when visiting HK, but didn't realize they also operate in Korea. Good to know.
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Old Apr 29, 22, 9:35 am
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Originally Posted by mikesaidyes View Post
There's a lot of discussion here but no actua answer given haha.

Korea has WEIRD verification laws for ANY SIM, so you MUST provide your passport as ID to activate the SIM card. The operating carrier must activate it. That's why SIM in stores won't work because the process is for locals and not the tourist market. And those carriers are cheap third party marketing companies using the bigger networks.

The ONLY option for tourists are: KT Roaming (direct from the source), SKT direct, LGUPlus direct, OR you buy a SIM from Trazy, Klook, etc. travel services providers that are reselling them in bulk. I prefer KT Roaming because they are the most expat friendly and they do it all at the airport for you.

Get off Amazon. Korean SIMS work nothing like SE Asia or other places.
@mikesaidyes, SIM registration is quite common outside the USA. Your advice makes senes for a tourist buying a SIM card in Korea, but that's not what I'm suggesting. Thai carrier AIS's SIM2FLY is a SIM card for Thai tourists traveling abroad and for foreign tourists traveling to Thailand and SE Asia (via Thailand). Just as is the case in Korea, their purchase must be registered with an ID. When a foreigners buys one online they are buying a SIM card that has already been registered in Thailand (and would be roaming in Korea). Hence, there is no need to separately register it in Korea.

@VegasGambler & @TravelLawyer, per the above, I never bought directly from AIS, but always through an online reseller. The eSIM is extremely convenient with an iPhone. You don't need to wait for anything to arrive in the mail and you can keep your USA SIM card active with data off and still be reachable on your USA number. This works even better with Wi-Fi calling. The SIM2FLY eSIMs can be bought online here. Be sure to make sure that your phone is supported and to follow their instructions to the letter to set it up.

Last edited by sonetsst; May 1, 22 at 11:03 am Reason: Added @s
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Old Apr 29, 22, 4:23 pm
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Originally Posted by mikesaidyes View Post
There's a lot of discussion here but no actua answer given haha.

Korea has WEIRD verification laws for ANY SIM, so you MUST provide your passport as ID to activate the SIM card.
That's only true if you get a Korean SIM card. The laws do not prevent other SIM cards from roaming in Asia. I'm not sure if they prevent these SIMs from being sold in Korea (I suspect that they do, which is why the one that I bought the last time I was there seemed like it was not advertised). It did not require activation and was far far cheaper than the local Korean options. And it worked just fine.


Get off Amazon. Korean SIMS work nothing like SE Asia or other places.
I don't want a Korean SIM; I want a SIM that can roam in Korea.
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Old May 2, 22, 4:37 pm
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Airalo (app available on iOS) has Korean eSIMs — $32 for 10 days of unlimited data, or $62 for 30 days. Not the cheapest, but has always worked well for me on a new (iPhone 12/13) device.
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