For anyone who has lived abroad, one of the most important, and annoying things to do first is setting up is your cell phone. There are a number of options available to anyone who comes to live in South Korea. There are a number of great websites (The Arrival Store and Korea4Expats) that cover the basics of getting and setting up a phone and provider while in South Korea, so I won’t delve too much into stuff already covered there. However, they don’t go into enough detail. Especially if you have a Verizon phone!
I came over to Korea with an Android Verizon phone. I was told it was unlocked and I could just “stick a new SIM card in and it’d be fine”. Well low and behold, that didn’t work. I got so frustrated that I just bought a cheap Korean Samsung S3 phone. However half way through this year, it died. I knew I wanted a phone that could work in the USA, so I went out on a limb and bought a Samsung S6 (a Korean-made phone, btw) from Verizon, assured again and again it’d be unlocked and compatible with CDMA and WCDMA.
I tried to just take the SIM card from my old phone (provider: SK Telecom) and put it in the new one but it wouldn’t work. I went and then switched to LG U+ after a recommendation from my friend who was using her AT&T phone with them (I hear AT&T doesn’t have the sort of problems that Verizon causes for people. Smh). It didn’t work either…. Well It did, but I couldn’t get any data! Finally, I went to my last option: Olleh. I had heard that it had the most success operating in foreign phones. But… I could only get data this time, no calls nor texts. So it was OK, but a phone should also have a calling feature… But I knew I had made progress. I spent countless hours with my co-teachers and host family (and finally, just me, alone) running around to provider retailers and having them tell me the same thing: it wouldn’t work. They kept changing the settings and the Access Point Names (APN) and saying it was impossible. Finally, I found one man who knew what the hell he was talking about.
I have a Samsung Galaxy S6, purchased in the USA from Verizon. I use the Korean provider, Olleh. And now things finally work. Here’s what you do:
- Confirm that your phone is unlocked. It should be if it was purchased after 2014.
- Buy an appropriate fitting SIM card (make sure the size fits your phone)
- Make sure your phone gets registered with the company! One idiot who first set up my phone didn’t do this, so it caused problems with validation down the line…
- Go to Settings -> Mobile Networks -> Network mode (change this to LTE/GSM/UMTS
- Go to Settings -> Mobile Networks -> Access Point Names:
A new APN should be automatically generated, however if it doesn’t, go to “Add” to make one manually and fill in the following:
– Name: kt
– APN: alwayson.ktfwing.com
– MMSC: http://mmsc.kfwing.com:9082
– Multimedia message proxy:
– Multimedia message port:
– MCC: 450
– MNC: 08
– Authentication type:
– APN protocol: IPv4
– APN roaming protocol: IPv4
– Turn APN on/off: on
– Mobile virtual network type:
– Mobile virtual network operator type:
- Then magic happens and your phone should work! Hopefully…
It seems that Americans who have the least amount of problems wither have an iPhone or use an AT&T phone. However to the 20+ Korean provider representatives who said it was not possible, here I am today, with a fully functional cell phone in Korea. I wouldn’t wish that stress on anyone else, so I wrote a blog post for support and hope this helps another poor soul like myself…