Get to know how to call to Korea for free and how to text or chat with your Korean friends, boyfriend or girlfriend for free. Free text and call functions are crucial when making a long-distance relationship bearable. Whether it is love or friendship, communication is the only thing that can bridge all those miles and kilometers, and not many of us can afford sky-high phone bills.
Having a boyfriend or friend from Korea means that you get all the perks that one of the most high-tech nations in the world has. Using Skype and MSN messenger was my mode of operation before I met my Korean boyfriend. But then, a wonderful new world of free Korean texting and calling apps opened up.
Whereas programs like Skype and MSN messenger need to be constantly running in the background and checking if there is a new event if you want to receive a message or call, the apps we are going to present here work on “push” basis, which means they are idle until new content is available at which time server pushes that information to the user. That way your battery doesn’t get drained, CPU is freed up, and you won’t miss a message or a call even if you haven’t turned the app on!
We have conducted a survey among our readers. 89 people took it (thank you!); out of them 83% have Korean friends, and 29% have Korean boyfriend which mean majority of our readers can benefit from these apps. Even if you don’t know any Koreans, these apps are all in English, as well as multitude of other languages, and there is no reason why you couldn’t use them with your non-Korean friends.
There are many to choose from, and we present you the four most used and, in our opinion, the best:
KakaoTalk, ChatON, Naver LINE, MyPeople
All four apps are available for multiple platforms and devices. They have very similar way of installing. You download the app and follow simple instructions: input your mobile phone number, wait for 4-digit code to be sent to you, input the code and use the app.
According to the survey, free text messaging is the most important feature for 83% of our readers and they will be happy to hear all four apps have that capability. Next comes free calling with 8%, which only ChatON doesn’t offer. A pity as it is otherwise a stellar app. But all the apps are adding new feature quickly, so let’s see.
As for non-essential features, 39% of our readers chose ‘emoticons and stickers’ as most important, and they should know only MyPeople and ChatON offer all of them completely free. 34% of our readers think ‘language support’ is the most valuable additional feature. All apps come in English and Korean, and the table below gives you how many other languages are available. 17% readers chose games, and again, all apps have extra games you can download, as well as various useful tools and add-ons.
|Send…||Contact||Contact, animation message, calendar, document, location||Contact, cloud, location||Contact, location|
|Stickers and emoticons||Basic ones for free, everything else additional charges||free||free||Basic ones for free, everything else additional charges|
|Language support||12 languages||60 languages||Korean, English||9 languages|
|Available for||Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Bada OS, BlackBerry
Edit: from 26 June 2013 stripped down PC version is available
|Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Bada OS, BlackBerry, web page||Android, iOS, and PC||Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC|
|NOT available for||PC (doesn’t have PC desktop application but can be used on a web page)||Bada OS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone||Bada OS|
We’re having a hard time picking our favorite between MyPeople and ChatON.
ChatON has the most polished design, it looks… expensive, but it has a big downside that it doesn’t offer free call function. ChatON also seems to have the most flexible personalization, and on top of being able to change theme, ringtone, like all other apps, ChatON has an additional feature of choosing talk bubble design. A feature that I’m very much in love with that only ChatON has is animated message. You scribble something on the touch screen, add background you like, stamps or text and sent it. It gets replayed exactly as you created it turning into an instant video. I feel this feature is wonderful for long-distance relationships. Much more personal than typed text or smileys.
MyPeople, on the other hand, offers all the features I want, including free call. All the emoticons, stickers and themes, which there are plenty, are completely free. Also, the stickers are in Korean which gives me a chance to learn it while chatting with Kimchi Man. Fans of SNSD will be happy to know they made MyPeople commercial.
KakaoTalk, in my opinion, has the least appealing design. Majority of stickers, smileys and themes needs to be paid additionally which leaves you with very skimpy amount of free choices. A feature that all Kpop fans will certainly love is the extra content you get when friending one of the celebrities (TVXQ, EXO, SUPER JUNIOR, f(x), GIRLS’s GENERATION, Shinee…) Even though they are listen in your friend’s list, you can’t send messages to them, and they won’t send messages to you. You will only receive commercial content.
We don’t have much to say about Naver LINE. It is a solid app, very similar to others. Only feature we noticed other apps didn’t have is sharing music files.
KakaoTalk, MyPeople and LINE have almost identical layout. NateON is somewhat different, although no less easy to find your way around.
If privacy is important to you, you should know that even though all the apps require you to give them your phone number so they can send you confirmation code, they use it in a different way. MyPeople and LINE don’t seem to use it at all. KakaoTalk tries to recommend friends for you who have your phone number. ChatON, since it doesn’t have free call function, attempts to call person’s phone if you press the call button.
LINE and KakaoTalk accessed the contacts I already had on my phone, while MyPeople didn’t. ChatON and KakaoTalk have function to search for friends by phone number.
While it may have some disadvantages, KakaoTalk is without a doubt most popular, with highest number of downloads, as well as the most popular with our readers, 60% of which use KakaoTalk. In far second place is Naver LINE with 11%, and MyPeople and ChatON have only 3% each.
While you may value different features other than texting and calling, and prefer different free apps, we don’t think you will go wrong with any of them.
If you have any further questions leave them in the comments below. We hope now you know how to call to Korea for free, and which are the best Korean apps.
|Long distance relationship advice||Korean emoticons|
|How to send mail to Korea|