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12 Essential Apps for Expats Living in Seoul

Picture of Linda Dunsmore
Updated: 30 April 2017
Life in Korea can be tough if you don’t know how to find your way around. If you truly want to live comfortably in Seoul, you need to use the apps the locals use – these twelve are our best picks.

KakaoTalk

The number one messaging app in South Korea should be one of the first things new visitors to Korea should download onto their smartphone. The messaging service has become so popular that its messaging emoticons have their own café and store chains across the country. If you want to keep in touch with Koreans you meet during your stay in the country, KakaoTalk is a must.

Messaging © Pexels
Messaging | © Pexels

Yogiyo

Hungry but too lazy to leave your house? Koreans love to take advantage of the convenient delivery service and have created an app for it. Yogiyo lets you easily order anything from Korea, Chinese, pizza and even ice cream and desserts. Within a couple of minutes, depending on the area in which you live, you can munch away.

Naver Map

Due to the political tensions in the region, Google Maps is not the best navigation application to use when in Korea. The local version Naver Map, however, will provide a more detailed and reliable map service. The only catch? Naver Map is only available in Korean, which means you will need to be able to read and type in Hangul.

Subway Korea

Let’s face it, Seoul’s subway system is fast but can get quite complicated. That’s where Subway Korea comes into play. Download the app on your phone and receive exact subway routes on how to get from A to B. Subway stations in big cities in Korea can get quite crowded and you don’t want to waste time trying to figure out the route posters on the stations. A few simple clicks are all it takes with the Subway Korea app to get you to your destination.

Subway © Pexels
Subway | © Pexels

Waygo Translator

Pretty much everyone knows by now that Google Translate cannot be trusted. While there are countless other reliable translation apps out there, there is nothing quite like Waygo. Available for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, the app allows you to take a photo of a word or sentence and translates it into English. Why would you need that? The app is perfect for anyone struggling with Korean script (or Japanese and Chinese).

AirVisual Air Quality App

Air quality in Seoul can get dangerously poor at times. That’s why it’s handy to have the AirVisual Air Quality app installed on your phone to protect you from nasty dust particles. The application tells you the air quality prognosis for the day to come and notifies you in case the air quality reaches an unhealthy level.

LOOKS App

If you didn’t know yet, Koreans care a lot about their looks. In fact, they also love their shameless selfies. If you want to keep up with the hip kids of Seoul, you’ll need to step up your photo game. This is where the LOOKS App can help. Install the app and use the app’s front camera filters to fill your face with the hottest makeup trends. The best part? The app shows you exactly which products can be used to achieve the look in real life.

Selfie © Pexels
Selfie | © Pexels

Seoul Bus

If you thought the Seoul subway is hard to navigate, think again. Every day there are hundreds of buses rushing over all parts of the city. It can be quite intimidating as a foreigner in Korea to take a local bus as most of the signs are in Korean only. However, you can save quite a bit of money and time depending on your destination when taking a bus. With the Seoul Bus app, taking a bus in Seoul will no longer be a problem.

Everysing (Smart Noraebang)

It’s no secret that Koreans love karaoke. Noraebang, or song room, is a popular place to hang out on the weekends with friends and family. If you want to impress your Korean friends the next time you go out, practice Western and Korean songs on your smartphone with Everysing.

Kakao Taxi

The Korean version of Uber is another extremely popular application that you should also consider downloading onto your phone when in Korea. Finding a taxi in the early morning or during rush hours can be a daunting task, but not if you use Kakao Taxi. With the push of a button, a nearby taxi will be alerted and heading straight to you.

Itour Seoul

If you don’t want to waste money on a tour guide or simply want to discover Seoul on your own, try out Itour Seoul. The official travel app from the Seoul Metropolitan Government leads you along the city’s best tourist attractions. Not only that, but Itour Seoul also shows you hidden gems that most tourists don’t even know about. Forget your heavy guide book and explore Seoul using your smartphone.

Seoul © Wikimedia
Seoul | © Wikimedia