How to use your American cellphone in South Korea


How do I get my Verizon phone to work in Korea?

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:

  1. Confirm that your phone is unlocked. It should be if it was purchased after 2014.
  2. Buy an appropriate fitting SIM card (make sure the size fits your phone)
  3. 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…
  4. Go to Settings -> Mobile Networks -> Network mode (change this to LTE/GSM/UMTS
  5. 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
    – Proxy:
    – Port:
    – Username:
    – Password:
    – Multimedia message proxy:
    – Multimedia message port:
    MCC: 450
    MNC: 08
    – Authentication type:
    – APN:
    APN protocol: IPv4
    APN roaming protocol: IPv4
    – Turn APN on/off: on
    – Bearer:
    – Mobile virtual network type:
    – Mobile virtual network operator type:
  6. 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…

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Moving to Korea - Hi, moving to Seoul very soon and I have the IPhone 7 with Verizon. Still under contract with them so I am wondering how you go about using the phone in Korea or how to switch it over… any help would be appreciated.

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