What is the Best VPN For South Korea in 2019?
NordVPN is the best VPN available to keep your South Korean online activities safe from the prying eyes of third parties, like the South Korean government or black hat hackers.
The provider brings fast, encrypted connections, excellent privacy protections and top-notch customer support to the table.
NordVPN’s “Double VPN” protected connections add a comprehensive layer of protection that helps keep the South Korean government from detecting your use of a VPN, allowing you freer access to the outside world.
Internet Freedom in South Korea
Internet penetration in South Korea sits at 92.7%, which is one of the highest rates around the world.
These key internet-freedom-related developments took place in recent years:
Freedom House has awarded South Korea an aggregate 2017 Internet Freedom Score of 35/100 (0 = Most Free, 100 = Least Free), giving them the 21st best score of the 65 countries ranked.
Top 5 VPNs for Use in South Korea
Why Do You Need a VPN in South Korea?
The South Korean government is often criticized for their efforts to regulate and censor the internet in their country and for being restrictive enough for Reporters Without Borders to include the country on their “countries under surveillance” censorship list.
South Korean internet restrictions include the enforcement of Real Name Verification, which requires SK internet users to verify their accounts before officials will allow them to contribute content to online websites.
South Korean regulators often attempt to block content they deem as “‘subversive’ and ‘harmful to the public order.’” In 2014, these regulators made almost 80,000 requests to online news sites for page deletion or blocking.
The South Korean government quickly blocks or deletes any online content that “praises or benefits” the communist regime in North Korea.
South Korean companies often proactively delete from their servers any content that could possibly violate SK law, even if there have been no complaints.
Voice Over IP (VoIP)
Only providers registered with the government can offer Voice over IP (VoIP) services in South Korea.
Happily, however, the SK government does not block the use of WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger and some others.
Popular social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are available in South Korea.
However, the SK government sometimes sends “requests” to these social networks to remove items it finds objectionable, especially during election cycles.
In 2009, South Korea passed a law that instituted a system that includes the ability to terminate the internet connection of any person law enforcement accuses of copyright infringement.
South Korean ISPs can turn off a user’s internet connection for up to six months. However, the government mainly targets those engaged in large-scale pirating of files, and not the average P2P user.
South Korean officials can access any individual’s personal information, including travel and financial records, private communications, location data and more.
While investigators require court-issued warrants to obtain private communications, service providers can choose to surrender the information voluntarily. ISPs must retain user data for one year.
The Netflix video streaming service is available for viewing in South Korea.
However, the content that Netflix offers in South Korea is different from the content it offers in other countries, such as the U.S.
As of April 2018, South Korea’s available Netflix content included 152 TV series and 507 films. As a comparison, U.S. Netflix content tallied in at 1,326 television shows and 4,339 movies at the same point in time.
Other streaming services, such as Hulu and BBC iPlayer, only give access to their content to viewers in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively.
Legality of VPNs
The use of VPNs while inside South Korean borders is legal.
Online gambling sites based in South Korea are illegal. However, the government does not block access to online casinos based in other parts of the globe.
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A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the most efficient tools available today to help protect your online activities from the prying eyes of the SK government, your ISP or hackers who wish to harvest your personal information for use by the bad guys.
A VPN encases your internet connection in a protective layer of encryption, making it tougher for a third party to detect your online activities or steal your banking, credit card, shopping and other information.
This makes a VPN the perfect way to protect your online activities while you’re connected to open Wi-Fi hotspots, like the ones in hotels or coffee shops.
Another useful function of VPNs is their ability to “spoof” your location. A VPN allows users to make it appear as if they are connecting from another location. The “spoofed” location can appear to be another city or even another country on the other side of the globe.
This ability helps open up access to video, audio, gaming and other types of content, which might normally be inaccessible from a user’s physical location.
Choosing the Best VPN for Use in South Korea
While researching the best VPN for use from inside of South Korea, there are quite a few important considerations to keep in mind.
In this section, I’ll go over each important feature, explain why it’s an important consideration and then offer a list of my top 10 VPN providers, ranked in order of how well they perform in that particular category.
Special Mode to Hide VPN Usage
A few of the VPN providers on my list offer a “special mode” that helps to hide the fact that you’re using a VPN. This is particularly useful in countries that are especially restrictive when it comes to accessing websites that are located outside their country.
Generally, “special mode” involves either a custom form of encryption unique to the VPN provider, or it consists of routing the connection through additional VPN server locations to further mask a user’s actual location.
“Special mode” is a “Yes/No” feature, so I’ve listed the providers alphabetically and have used checkmarks or X-s to designate if the company offers a special mode to hide VPN usage.
When using a VPN from inside of restrictive countries, privacy protections become more important than usual.
In this case, “privacy” refers to how well a provider is able to protect the records of your online activities, as well as the payment information related to your subscription.
When researching a VPN provider’s privacy protections, consider the country they are located in, whether the provider saves logs containing information about your online travels, and whether or not the provider makes a privacy-enhancing payment option, such as Bitcoin or merchant gift card balances, available to protect your payment-related information.
The providers below are ranked in order of best privacy protections to worst.
Connection speed is always an important consideration, no matter what you have planned for your VPN connection. Fast connection speeds make your overall online experience more enjoyable, allowing fast access to streaming music and video, lag-free online gaming experiences and fast-loading websites.
The table below ranks the VPN providers I’ve reviewed according to the speed of their protected connections, sorted in descending order, best to worst.
The figures used were calculated by visiting the Speedtest website to measure my connection speed while only connected to my ISP. Then, I connected to each VPN provider and ran the speed test again. Finally, I calculated the speed percentage numbers displayed in the following table by comparing the two speeds.
If you’re in a country that restricts internet usage, there’s a good chance there may be penalties if it’s detected that you’re visiting “banned” content. If your VPN connection is terminated prematurely, this could lay your connection open to monitoring and detection.
A “kill switch” prevents this from happening by disconnecting your internet connection in the event that you’re disconnected from your VPN.
As “kill switch” is a “yes/no” category, the providers on the list below are sorted alphabetically, along with a simple checkmark or "X" indicator as to whether they offer a kill switch.
Other Factors to Consider
Let us hope that none of us ever have an issue with our VPN connections. However, the chances are better than good that many of us will need to contact our VPN provider’s customer service department for one reason or another.
When researching a provider’s customer support offerings, look for live support chat, a trouble ticket tracking system and a searchable support library/knowledge base.
The table below ranks my top 10 VPN providers according to what types of support they offer, how quickly and accurately they reply to support inquiries, and how easy it is to find a quick answer with a bit of digging on your own.