Last updated May 4th, 2023
17.5 million people travel to South Korea every year. To date, it is rather easy for tourists to access connectivity, via WIFI or by purchasing a SIM card. But if you want to go further and need an eSIM (embedded SIM) for your trip to South Korea, you will now need to know which options to buy.
Communication costs in South Korea are generally quite affordable, but an eSIM should take you to the next level in terms of low prices and help you get really cheap data. Some providers even go as high as $10 for 4GB of mobile data. It's quite interesting, isn't it?
More and more devices are now eSIM compatible. All Apple iPhone devices since iPhone XR and XS are now compatible. Android devices are also compatible, such as the Google Pixel 3 and newer. Access our frequently updated list of eSIM supported devices here.
The team esims.io recently spent two weeks in South Korea to test various eSIM providers, including Airhub, Nomad, Airalo, RedTeaGo and GigSky. During our stay, we examined the network speed and latency of each provider, as well as the purchase and installation processes and the various prices for their services.
Our goal was to provide an objective review of these eSIM providers to help others who may be considering them for their own travel needs. We believe that eSIM technology has the potential to revolutionize the way people travel, and we wanted to see how well it performed in a country known for its advanced telecommunications infrastructure.
Over the course of our testing, we were able to gather valuable data on each provider's network performance, ease of use, and overall value. We hope that our findings will be helpful to those looking for a reliable eSIM provider for their travels to South Korea or other countries around the world.
The best value for money: Nomad
We selected Regional APAC - 45 Days - 20 GB and Nomad's eSIM was the standout performer in our tests.
While installation required to scan a QR code rather than using an in-app process like Airalo or RedTeaGo, it was still easy to set up. Nomad's network speed was exceptional, particularly in the city of Seoul where we achieved speeds of up to 80mbps in 4G, even when using the subway.
Nomad's app also proved to be user-friendly, allowing us to easily track how much data we had left in our bundle.
Throughout our testing period, we relied heavily on Kakao Map and WhatsApp for calls and sending pictures to friends, as well as streaming Netflix and Disney Plus without any noticeable lag.
It's worth noting that Nomad's eSIM wasn't a local SIM, so we were routing through Hong Kong. However, we didn't experience any issues or delays due to this routing.
Additionally, Nomad's offer is also the cheapest per GB, with only $1.85/GB with our promo code ESIMS23 for 20GB, which is valid for 45 days at $37.
Regional APAC - 45 Days - 20 GB
Overall, we highly recommend Nomad's eSIM for anyone traveling to South Korea who needs reliable, high-speed mobile data at an affordable price.
Fast and Easy to install: Airalo
Airalo's LG U+ Unlimited also proved to be a strong contender in our tests. Their app is well-designed and the installation process for their eSIM is convenient, as it can be done entirely through the app.
We achieved high speeds of around 50mbps for both download and upload, with no packet loss.
As Airalo is providing a local eSIM, we didn't experience any routing issues. However, it's worth noting that eKYC was required, which means we had to upload a copy of our passport to purchase and install the eSIM. While this may not be an issue for some, it could be a concern for others who are hesitant to share sensitive information.
Overall, we believe that Airalo offers a great user experience and reliable mobile data service in South Korea. However, due to the eKYC requirement, it did not rank as highly as Nomad in our comparison article. Nonetheless, we would still recommend Airalo to those who are comfortable with providing their passport information, as the validation process was almost instant.
Airalo's LG U+ Unlimited costs $32 for unlimited amount of data during 10 days!
🇰🇷 South Korea
Data and Phone number*
Network(s) : LG U+ (LTE)
Speed vs. User-Friendly: Testing Airhub and RedTeaGo's eSIM
We also tested Airhub and RedTeaGo during our time in South Korea. Airhub's network speed was impressive, with speeds of around 60mbps and even reaching up to 150mbps during a subway test.
However, there were occasional packet loss issues, and we experienced some network disconnections when trying to order a taxi on Kakao T (Uber of South Korea) or load a web page.
Airhub crazy speed in the subway:
On the other hand, RedTeaGo's speed was on the lower end, maxing out at 44mbps.
RedTeaGo speed test:
Both Airhub and RedTeaGo were providing roaming eSIMs, so we were routed through Hong Kong during our testing.
RedTeaGo IP location:
Airhub IP location:
However, where RedTeaGo stood out was with their user-friendly app. They have an in-app installation process and the app itself is simple to use, allowing us to track the data left in our bundle.
In contrast, Airhub's app is a bit confusing and lacks some features, such as top-up or data tracking.
Overall, while Airhub's network speed was impressive, the occasional packet loss and network disconnections prevented it from ranking higher in our comparison article. RedTeaGo's user-friendly app, on the other hand, made it a strong contender despite its lower network speeds.
🇰🇷 South Korea
Network(s) : SK Telecom (4G)
South Korea 3GB 7 Days
🇰🇷 South Korea
Special Offer : $3 CREDIT
Gigsky: Routing location matters
We also tested GigSky's eSIM during our time in South Korea, and while the app and purchase experience were good, there were some significant issues with network routing and speed.
The GigSky app is simple and allows for payment with Apple Pay, which is convenient. In addition, the app also offers in-app installation. However, during our testing, we experienced routing issues as the network was routed through Louisville, Colorado in the USA, resulting in complicated online navigation and limited app functionality. Despite speed tests showing up to 41mbps, using certain apps such as Kakao Map was difficult.
While the app and purchase experience were positive, the issues with network routing and speed make it difficult to recommend GigSky as the primary eSIM provider for travel in South Korea.
After two weeks of testing various eSIM providers in South Korea, we can confidently say that these services offer a reliable and convenient way to stay connected while traveling. Each of the providers we tested had their strengths and weaknesses, making it important to consider your own needs and priorities when choosing an eSIM provider.
Nomad's eSIM stood out as the clear winner in our tests, offering exceptional network speed and a user-friendly experience at an affordable price. Airalo and RedTeaGo also performed well, with Airalo offering reliable mobile data and a convenient installation process, while RedTeaGo impressed us with their user-friendly app.
Airhub also provided fast network speeds, but occasional packet loss and network disconnections held it back. Additionally, their app was not as user-friendly as some of the other providers we tested.
If you are still not satisfied, you can check out many other eSIM plans for South Korea on esims.io.
Yesim South Korea 3GB
Yesim South Korea 20GB
South Korea 20GB - 5 Days
Yesim South Korea 10GB
South Korea 20GB - 10 Days