If you live in Korea (or are travelling the peninsula) then there are some essential apps you will need to make your time here run smoothly*.
We’ve linked to the iTunes store for all the apps we have chosen, most seem to be multi-platform, though, and will work on your HTC, Samsung, etc.
*Unless you get too drunk on soju/eat too many Hongdae kebabs. Then these apps are useless.
- Jihachul Metro
If you are travelling around Seoul you have to have a subway map to hand at all times. The subway is the easiest way to travel; especially when the traffic is bad. The seats are heated in winter, so you might even want to spend a little more time than usual travelling around in this period. The app has maps of the Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju subway systems. You can use the app to plan your trip, find out the subway times, and discover transfer information.
- Seoul Bus App
Seoul Bus is a really useful app if you don’t know the bus schedule around Seoul or you need to locate your nearest bus stop. The menus are in English, but you will have to know a little hangul to read the finer details within the app – at least enough to be able to type in where you are trying to get to. You can find nearby stops with the inbuilt GPS tracker and can also discover how far away the bus you’re waiting for is, right down to the last second.
You can use the Korail app to check train times and book tickets for ordinary Korail trains and the KTX while you are on the go.
- Fly Korea
If you ever need to know flight times, arrivals, departures, anything to do with flights in and out of Korea then this app is very useful, especially since it is all in English.
- Google Translate
If you do not permanently have a Korean person to translate/order food for you then you should date one, because it makes functioning in Korea very easy. If that isn’t an option then you could download a couple of language apps. Google translate is useful because you can simply type in an English word or phrase and it will translate it. It struggles with larger sentences, but it’s really good for single words and simple phrases. It is clear and easy to use.
TTMIK = Talk To Me in Korean. If you haven’t heard of TTMIK then you should Google it right away. Originally web-based, they now have this nifty little app to help you learn Korean on the go. This app allows you to listen to the regular classes anywhere, stay updated with the latest episodes, and email any questions or comments. This is one of the most helpful programmes we have found while learning Korean.
- Korean FlashCards BASIC
Korean language beginners, here is the app for you. Flashcards are wonderful for learning new vocabulary and you can use this electronic flashcard system to practice on the subway whilst keeping your bum warm on the heated seats. The app has native speaker audio so you can practice pronunciation and the words are categorized into word files so you can select a category easily for revision (eg. human body).
If you pay and get the full app you get 6,200 new words, plus extra features to aid learning and memorisation of vocabulary.
Price: Free – for the lite version
$14.99 – for the full version
- Visit Korea
The app has been designed by the Korea Tourist Organisation. Just like their main website it has information on events, transport, prices, the exact time and exchange rate, events happening soon, what’s popular, plus advice on food. It has great reviews and is very practical for all things Korea.
- i-Tour Seoul
This is a very popular app. You can use it to browse tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, shopping destinations and transport information, areas and up-to-date reviews by people who have recently visited Seoul.
- Pudding (푸딩)
The Korean photography app Pudding (푸딩) is wonderful for taking alternative pictures, boasting 8 different cameras including a fisheye, and motion pictures, as well as different film choices such as black and white, vintage blue and vivid (to name just a few). It’s easy to use and saves the photos into your gallery, ready to upload to Facebook so you can show all your friends at home how much of a better time you are having than them.
Although this photography/ social networking app gets a bad rep for being too ‘hipster’ (whatever that even means), it is actually very good. You can take eye-catching pictures of your time in Korea very easily with this app. Just snap a photo and then decide which filter you want before sharing it with the Instagram online community, where you can follow the uploads of others, like, comment, and share.
Although Decopic is a Japanese app, it definitely captures the Korean cute factor we like to indulge in on an
occasional everyday basis. With this sickly sweet photo editing app you can add filters, frames, stamps and text to create artistic images like the one below.
Entertainment and News
This app will be difficult if you can’t understand any Korean since it uses barely any English. However, even with the smallest understanding of the language the app is well-designed enough so that you can find movie times at your local CGV, which is the best theatre chain simply because you can buy beer at the snack counter along with your popcorn.
The Korea Herald is the number one English language newspaper in Korea. With their app you can get live news in English of everything happening in the country.
- Korea News
A second source of information for Korean news in English. It has live twitter updates, news stories and high-quality blogs related to Korean news. You can share articles and download them to read offline later on.
Naver is the Korean Google. If you are more advanced in Korean and can search in Korean, or you just want to use it as a dictionary then Naver will be useful. Naver knows everything. This app also has a music search, a QR code scanner and a voice command search.
- K-Pop Stars
If K-Pop is your thing then this app will allow you to stalk your favourite Korean celebs, read news stories, see pictures, and keep up to date with what is happening in the world of K-Pop.
- Kakao Talk
Kakao Talk is an instant messenger service seemingly used by almost every smartphone user in Korea. It’s free, you can use it as much as you like, and it has no adverts. You can use it to send pictures and videos as well as messages and it i’s simple and easy to use.
Viber is a great app if you’re living in Korea permanently or are abroad for a long period of time. It allows you to make phone calls to people in other countries if they also have the Viber app, for free. It could save a fortune on international calls – just make all your friends and family download this app too.
- Korean Food Guide
There has been a number of times that we’ve sat down to some tasty Korean cuisine (everyday) and not known what we’ve been eating (most days). With this app the dark days are over. Search foods in English or Korean, find out what they are, learn the culture behind them and peruse the pictures to educate yourself on Korean cuisine.
Korean Cuisine includes recipes for many Korean dishes, step-by-step guides on how to make them yourselves, as well as ingredient lists and visual aids to help you on your way to becoming a Korean master chef. It may take a little longer to load, but the aesthetics are really good quality, and it is a really useful app if you’re interested in cooking your own Korean food.
What apps do you find useful in Korea? Let us know in the comments.