Top 10 Phone Apps for Living in Korea in 2021

Top 10 phone apps for living in korea
Read about the 10 best phone apps for living in Korea in 2021 as a foreigner - Food delivery, translation, shopping, and more

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If you’re moving to Korea as a student or English teacher, there are many things you need to set up from setting up a bank account, getting a mobile phone, getting your foreigner card, surviving quarantine, to finding a shared house.

One thing you can start doing even before you come is downloading these 10 phone apps for living in Korea.

We’ve updated this list for 2021 and recommend them to all of our shared housing tenants.

A special note is that you may need to switch your country store to ‘Korea’ in order to download and operate these apps!

1. KakaoTalk Messenger [카카오톡]

Kakao Talk App | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: None

If you are visiting, moving to, or even know anything about Korea, you know Kakao Talk. I’d be surprised if there was a single citizen in Korea who doesn’t have this app.

Kakao Messenger app is a versatile and seamless messaging app that involves branded emojis to communicate with people and also has an array of features that extend beyond just communication. For example, you can use Kakao Wallet, Kakao Map, buy gifts, send money online, and more.

With this app, you can send and receive money and documents, pay for coffee, and even book flights to nearby countries!

2. Baedal Minjok [배달의민족]

Baedal Minjok  | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: Beginner

One thing that all foreigners, expats, and international students love about living in Korea is its fast food delivery service. Baedal Minjok, termed “Bae-Min” by Koreans is one of the first players to enter the market and is by far the largest with the most selection of restaurants.

You will have to have a phone to verify yourself but it will take KakaoPay, NaverPay and even cash/credit cards.

You will need to have a very basic understanding of Korean and/or an intuitive sense of UI/UX interfaces to get around.

Those traveling to Korea during the pandemic will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine – read our essential guide to surviving quarantine.

3. Coupang Eats (쿠팡 이츠)

Coupang Eats  | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: None

You will be using food delivery apps in Korea a lot! So why not have one more?

Coupang Eats is the other most reliable food delivery app in Korea. There certainly exist a few others as well as one or two foreigner-run startups, but Coupang Eats stands a part for a few reasons. First, it is entirely in English unlike Baedal Minjok. Second, the deliveries are very fast – they have a Cheetah Mode where you can get your food within 15 min.

Lastly, the delivery fees tend to be much cheaper on Coupang Eats for some reason – that’s coming from our direct experience.

4. Seoul Bike (따릉이)

Seoul Bike | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: Beginner recommended

Getting around Seoul is both one of the great pleasures and annoyances of living in Korea. While public transportation is one of the cleanest, fastest, and most reliable in the world, it’s often very crowded. Further, traffic can make taking taxis quite difficult.

Enter Seoul Bike. Seoul city has created a bike rental system where you can rent a bike all across the city and then ride anywhere and drop it of. All you need to do is rent a bike! – By the way, this is a perfect date idea.

There is an English version but I have found it is buggy so I personally stick to the Korean version. It does take foreign credit cards, but that necessitates going to a rather buggy website as well. If you are living in Korea and have a verified phone, learning a little bit of Korean and using something like KakaoPay to pay instantly is preferable.

5. Karrot Market (당근 마켓)

Karrot Market | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: None

A long time ago, there were no good options for selling and buying secondhand and used items in Korea. There was only Craigslist and a rather buggy and useful Naver forum called 중고나라 “Joongonara”.

Enter the startup Karrot Market, which has reached Kakao levels of ubiquity among Koreans – “You should use Danggeun!” is a common response whenever you mention you need to sell something.

Karrot Market has since added a very useful English interface and its main feature is its robust reviews and verification system. Similar to Uber, all users have a review rating whereby buyers and sellers can rate their interactions with each other.

6. Mango Plate (망고 플레이트)

Mango Plate  | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: None

In a country such as Korea that has “mukbang” and foodies, everyone wants to find a great place to eat. Enter Magno Plate!

MangoPlate is a restaurant recommendation service that helps you resolve your daily problem of where to go eat by connecting you with trustworthy people as well as the best restaurants in South Korea. It also has a very deep recommendation algorithm and review system.

Personally, I find it very useful and more friendly than its popular alternative, Naver Food Blogs, which are just a bunch of disconnected blog pages. This is perfect for group outings and dates when you need to find the next trendy cafe or restaurant.

7. Papago Translate (파파고)

Papago  | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: None

Papago is a super-powered translator app developed by Naver. Compared to Google Translate, the UI/UX is an absolute dream to use.

It has two cool features as well: Picture/screen translate – you can take or upload a photo and it will translate Korean text in real-time. It also has a hangul writer where you can write in Korean.

8. Kakao Taxi (카카오 택시)

Kakao Taxi  | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: None or Beginner Recommended

When it comes to ride-hailing or ride-sharing apps, Kakao Taxi is the most reliable game in town. While Uber and other startups like Tada have had their time here, Korean government protectionism combined with the powerful taxi driver lobby has ensured that their times were short.

Kakao Taxi is different from Uber in that taxi drivers themselves opt-in in order to get more riders. It works much the same and you can pay either directly through KakaoPay or afterward using cash or your T-money card.

There is an English version of the app, but I personally use the Korean version because taxi drivers can see if the fare notification is in English or Korean and are more apt to pick you up if you use the Korean version.

9. Air Quality / Air Visual

Air Quality  | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: None

One of the unfortunate parts about living in Korea is the poor air quality. Everyone has to deal with it, so you might as well stay alert.

Although there are Korean-made apps, Air Visual is what almost everyone uses. It very clearly gives you information on fine dust, yellow dust, AQI, and other metrics.

10. Naver Maps (네이버 지도)

Naver Maps  | Top 10 apps for living in Korea - Shared Homies

Korean language required: None or Intermediate Recommended

When it comes to map apps in Korea, you got two choices: Naver Maps and Kakao Maps

While Kakao Maps offers integration with Kakao Talk (obviously), almost every Korean I know exclusively uses Naver Maps. That is because Naver is central to all Koreans’ online experiences here. In fact, it is the Korean internet.

Naver maps also tends to update its street view more than Kakao maps (fact: Google maps is useless in Korea because the Korean government bars Google from doing satellite or street view). Naver maps also has a better English interface.

However, many names, landmarks, and places do not translate well to English – so using the Korean versions of map apps is recommended.

Bonus: Shared Homies (쉐어드 호미스)

While Shared Homies isn’t an app (yet), we offer one of the most important things you need in Korea – a place to live!

Food, travel, shopping, and leisure are all important parts of living in Korea, but finding a home to live in Seoul in a nice neighborhood can make or break your experience.

At Shared Homies, we work with trustworthy operators in order to solve the shared housing problem in Seoul – finding a great apartment or house before coming to Korea.

So get in touch with us on Kakao, send us a message, or email us and get started on finding your home in Korea!



Co-founder and Growth Marketing Officer

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