kakao talk korean smartphone app

5 of the Best Smartphone Apps for Foreigners in Korea

smartphone apps for foreigners living in korea

If you are anything like me you are probably glued to your smartphone more than you should be! The problem I have with it is that I use it for practically everything meaning it rarely ever leaves my side! However, I have good reason to carry it with me everywhere…

… you see, living in Korea used to be so much harder but now with the list of readily available smartphone apps designed for foreigners living in Korea and locals alike, getting around and finding things has become SO much easier. Thus, without my smartphone I am literally naked and feel I am justified for being on it more often than not.

Here is a list of the top 5 apps I use and think will help you too. Hopefully I can come back to this post and edit it to include even more as time goes on:

1. Kakao Talk

kakao talk korean smartphone appLet’s start with the absolute must have. Kakao Talk is the Korean equivalent of sending a text message – but it’s free. Every Korean person has Kakao Talk and use it every hour of the day to send messages to their friends and co workers. It’s a fantastic app that allows you to call people for free, send photos and videos and has a really wide array of fantastically funny emoticons! Your phone contacts automatically get added to your Kakao Talk contacts but you can also manually add any contacts from home too.

Perhaps the best feature of the Kakao Talk app is the group conversations – you can add as many of your friends as you like and all have a little conversation together on the go. When you arrive in Korea, forget everything else and install Kakao Talk on your smartphone… that’s how important it is!

Download: Apple Devices / Android Devices

2. Jiyachul


Jiyachul is the Korean word for subway and, as you can probably guess, is an app designed to help people navigate Korea’s extensive subway system. It not only shows the most up to date subway maps for all the metropolitan cities in Korea, it also allows you to view train times and transfer detail making this one of the most widely used apps in Korea.

The big bonus for us is that it is available in English!

Download: Apple Devices / Android Devices

3. Visit Korea


Visit Korea is an app from the Korean Tourism Office and is actually very, very good indeed. It includes information about popular things to do and see in all areas of Korea in English as well as showing route maps on how to get to places the quickest. If you are planning to travel around the country during your stay this will throw up lots of great ideas you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Download: Apple Devices / Android Devices

4. Naver Maps


Naver (and to an extent Daum) has the monopoly on the interactive smartphone / website map apps in Korea. Google is used but it doesn’t pull up as many of the results that naver does. The thing you need to keep in mind is that you’ll get more accurate results in Naver / Daum by typing in Korean which we know may not be possible but something to keep in mind if you can.

It’s straightforward and if you’ve ever used Google you will have no problem using Naver or Daum.

Download: Apple Devices / Android Devices

5. Google Translate


Okay, yeah, you probably know about this one. I went for the longest time without this one until one day it clicked and I installed it. Instantly better! I now use it in restaurants, taxis, at the store and in the street. Without it I was nothing but a stammering wreck with people just sniggering as I tried to ask a question. In other words, just install it and you’ll use it every day!

Download: Apple Devices / Android Devices


I hope you find the above list of smartphone apps for foreigners in Korea useful. I know they certainly help me in my day to day life! If you have any other smartphone apps you think would be useful for foreigners to know about, please list them in the comments section below and we’ll be eternally grateful!

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