If you’re a resident of South Korea, or if you’ll be visiting the country on pleasure or business, it’s important to know how to squeeze as much performance and freedom as possible out of your internet connection.
Why do I say “freedom”? Well, Freedom House’s 2019 Freedom on the Net report gave South Korea an internet freedom score of 64/100, which is considered “partly free.”
The South Korean government has often been 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.
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.
While Netflix and other video streaming services are available for viewing in South Korea, the content available in South Korea is different from the content Netflix offers in other countries, such as the U.S.
Meanwhile, some 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.
Happily, there is a tool you can use to ensure that your online activities aren’t being tracked by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), the government, or the guy with the nice laptop down at the coffee shop. That same tool also opens up access to streaming and other types of content from other countries.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your internet connection, preventing any third parties from monitoring your online activities. A VPN can also temporarily assign your connected device a new IP address that is located outside of South Korea, allowing you to access content that might normally be blocked from inside the country.
In this article, I’ll provide information about the 5 best VPNs to use in South Korea to help you preserve your internet freedom and expand your access to online content from around the globe.
How to Use a VPN From Inside of South Korea
It’s easy to use a VPN to protect and enhance your online activities. Just follow a few easy steps:
- Subscribe to a reliable VPN provider. (ExpressVPN is my recommendation.)
- Install the VPN provider’s app(s) on your favorite device(s).
- Log into the VPN service.
- Select a VPN server located outside of South Korea to access content from outside the country, or a server inside South Korea if you simply want to protect your online activities from observation.
- Connect to your favorite sites and services!
Best VPNs for Use in South Korea
After rigorous testing, the 5 VPN providers listed below have proven to be the best VPN options for use from inside of South Korea. The condensed version is:
- ExpressVPN: This provider has proven itself to provide the most reliable online protection for users residing in or visiting South Korea. The provider offers well-protected, fast connections that provide optimal access to content around the globe.
- NordVPN: This budget-priced VPN provider offers an excellent option for budget-minded South Korean users who would rather spend their hard-earned won on anything but VPN service. The provider’s service belies its bargain pricing.
- CyberGhost: This provider will likely prove attractive to first-time users thanks to its easy-to-use apps. The provider offers one-click access to servers optimized for streaming, file sharing and more.
- VyprVPN: While this provider offers good global server coverage, reasonably fast speeds, and good app support, its main attraction is something it offers that no other provider on this list does. VyprVPN owns and operates its entire global server network, keeping third-party contractors away from customer data.
- Surfshark: This provider offers fast connections, a quickly-growing global server network, and excellent security and privacy protections. Owners of growing businesses or heads of growing families are sure to appreciate the provider’s unlimited simultaneous connections allowance.
When ranking the top 5 VPNs for use in South Korea, I considered the following factors:
- Global server network (which includes servers in South Korea)
- Security and privacy protections
- Connection speeds
- Native app support
- Customer support
Note: While this article concentrates on using a VPN while inside of South Korea, you also want to make sure a provider has servers stationed inside the country so that you can access South Korea-only content when you’re outside of the country. Every provider on this list has servers stationed in South Korea.
Here is my list of the 5 best VPNs for South Korean users.
ExpressVPN is the #1 choice for protecting and enhancing your online activities from inside South Korea.
The ExpressVPN global server network is made up of over 3,000 servers located in 94 countries around the globe, South Korea included.
Online security is handled by military-level encryption, a kill switch option, and IPv6 and DNS leak protection. A split-tunneling feature allows you to specify which apps operate inside the encrypted VPN tunnel, and which apps operate outside the protective tunnel.
Privacy is covered by the provider’s no-server-logs-ever policy and a willingness to accept Bitcoin as subscription payment.
ExpressVPN shines in the connection speed department, delivering the fastest download speeds of any VPN service in my latest round of speed tests.
This means that depending on your usual connection speeds, the provider is more than up to streaming video, gaming online, sharing and downloading files, and more. The provider imposes no data caps to limit your fun.
ExpressVPN provides app support for the Amazon Fire, Android, Android TV, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux and Chromebook device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are available. The provider offers router compatibility to provide protection for all of your devices. Up to 5 concurrent connections are allowed on a single set of login credentials.
Around-the-clock support is available, with 24/7 live support chat, a trouble ticket system, email support and an easy-to-search support knowledge base.
- Reliably unblocks blocked services and websites
- Excellent global server coverage, including servers inside South Korea
- Speedy connections
- Comprehensive privacy and security protections
- Top-notch multi-platform app support
- More expensive than other VPN providers
BEST VPN FOR SOUTH KOREA IN 2020:ExpressVPN is my top choice for South Korean users looking for the best way to both protect and enhance their online activities. In addition to security and privacy protections, the provider offers fast connections that can unblock content nearly anywhere around the globe. A 30-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN scores well in this roundup thanks to its budget pricing, and top-notch privacy and online security protections.
At the time of this article, NordVPN has over 5,500 servers stationed in 58 countries around the globe, South Korea included.
A strict no-server-logs policy as well as a cryptocurrency subscription payment option add up to optimal privacy protection.
Although the provider doesn’t offer the fastest download speeds in this roundup, that doesn’t mean their speeds are slow. Their connections can easily handle HD video streaming, gaming and downloading/sharing of files.
NordVPN native app support includes offerings for the Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android TV and Linux platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
To protect other devices, or if you need more than 6 concurrent connections, use NordVPN’s comprehensive router support to protect all of your connected devices.
Customer support is well covered here thanks to 24/7 live support chat, email support and a searchable knowledge base.
- Servers in 58 countries, with 10 farms in South Korea
- 24/7 customer support
- Comprehensive privacy and security protections
- Budget-level pricing
- Slowest connections on this list
BEST BARGAIN VPN:NordVPN is the top option for South Korean users on a budget. The provider offers excellent global server coverage, as well as top-notch online security and privacy protections. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost will prove to be especially attractive to folks who don’t have much experience in using a VPN service. One-click access to streaming and file sharing-optimized servers is a definite plus.
CyberGhost’s network of 5,800+ servers scattered among 89 countries has things well covered, including multiple servers stationed in South Korea. The provider has plenty of streaming-optimized servers, delivering reliable access to popular streaming services. Also available are servers optimized for P2P file sharing.
Security and privacy are both well covered with this provider. Your online activities are protected from prying eyes thanks to government-quality encryption, kill switch protection, and DNS leak and IPv6 leak prevention.
The provider protects your privacy by never tracking your online travels, so there are no server logs, and it also offers a Bitcoin payment option to protect your payment privacy.
The provider’s download speeds are also optimized for streaming video and sharing large files, providing more than enough horsepower for most any online activity. No data caps to worry about here.
CyberGhost’s easy-to-use apps are available for the Amazon Fire TV, Android, Android TV, iOS, Linux, macOS and Windows platforms. Plus, Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are available, as is support for various types of Wi-Fi routers. Up to 7 simultaneous connections can be made to the service using the same login.
Always-available live support chat, email support, a support ticket tracking system and a searchable support library have your support needs covered 24/7.
- Servers in 89 countries, including South Korea
- Fast download speeds
- Easy-to-use apps
- Streaming- and file sharing-optimized servers
- Advanced users might miss some advanced options
BEST FOR NEWBIE VPN USERS:CyberGhost is the best option for South Koreans new to the VPN scene. The provider’s easy-to-use apps provide one-click access to streaming- and downloading-optimized servers that deliver fast download speeds. A 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
VyprVPN may not have the highest server count of any provider on this list, but those servers offer a bit of privacy protection no other VPN on this list can match.
The provider has 5,500+ servers located in 58 countries, including South Korea. Every one of those servers is fully owned and operated by VyprVPN. No other provider in this roundup can say that. VyprVPN’s self-owned server farms keep third-party contractors away from your personal data.
While the provider’s speeds are among the slowest in this lineup, they still provide plenty of bandwidth for your favorite online activities, including video streaming, online gaming and more.
VyprVPN apps are available for the Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and Android TV platforms. However, no browser extensions are available at this time. The provider does offer compatibility with numerous brands of routers. The base subscription level offers only 3 simultaneous connections.
Always-available live support chat, a support request form and a searchable support library have your support needs covered around the clock.
- Owns and operates its entire server network
- Comprehensive global server coverage
- Top-notch security and privacy
- HD-capable connection speeds
- More expensive than comparable VPN providers
- Only 3 simultaneous connections included with basic subscription
EXTRA BIT OF PRIVACY PROTECTION:VyprVPN provides reliable protection for your online activities, while also providing an extra layer of privacy by owning and operating its entire global server network. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of VyprVPN.
Surfshark hasn’t been around as long as the other providers on this list, but it is quickly becoming a provider to contend with.
The provider’s global server count currently sits at over 1,000 servers, located in 60+ countries. That is almost double the number from the previous year.
Your privacy is also well protected thanks to the provider’s no-server-logs rule and their acceptance of Bitcoin.
Surfshark’s connection speeds fall smack dab in the middle of the rankings on this list, and they provide more than enough speed for just about any online activity you might enjoy.
Apps include offerings for the Linux, iOS, Android, Windows, macOS and Fire TV device platforms. Firefox and Chrome browser extensions are also available. The provider can be used with multiple types of routers. Surfshark offers an unlimited simultaneous connections allowance.
Surfshark customer support is available 24/7 thanks to a searchable support library, a support contact form and an around-the-clock live chat option.
- Quickly-expanding global server network
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Excellent security and privacy protections
- Global server coverage isn’t quite there yet
- 1-month subscription is expensive
PERFECT FOR MULTIPLE USERS:Surfshark users will benefit from its fast-growing server network, as well as its unlimited simultaneous connections allowance. This provider is an excellent choice for large groups of users. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of Surfshark.
Can I Use a Free VPN in South Korea?
While it’s possible that you’ll be able to find a free VPN that works from inside South Korea, I strongly recommend against using one.
First off, using a free VPN provider is inconvenient. Some free VPN providers force their users to sit in a queue, waiting until they’re allowed to connect to one of the provider’s limited number of servers.
Once you’re allowed to connect, you’ll find that you’re automatically connected to a server of the provider’s choosing. Or, if you do have a choice of servers, the selection will be severely limited. If you’re outside of South Korea and need to access content inside the country, you might not have a South Korean server to choose from.
Once you’re connected, you may find that your connection speeds are throttled. In addition, your VPN usage may be severely limited, as many freebie VPN services will restrict your usage by imposing daily or monthly data caps.
You’ll be disappointed with the privacy “protections” that free VPN services offer. Many sans-cost VPNs will pay their bills by tracking their users’ online movements, saving the information, and selling it to advertisers and other interested third parties.
Other freebie VPNs will inject unwanted ads and tracking cookies into their users’ browsing sessions. Guess what? Those tracking cookies continue to track you, even when you’ve disconnected from the VPN provider’s servers.
What Else Can I Do With A VPN?
In addition to keeping your online activities hidden from prying eyes, a Virtual Private Network offers other ways to protect and enhance your online travels.
A VPN opens access to blocked content around the globe. This can include streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and others. It also includes game servers, financial services, and other types of sites and services.
A VPN can also help prevent your ISP from throttling or blocking your connection simply because they don’t approve of your activity. ISPs have been known to throttle or block such activities as streaming from an unapproved video service or sharing files via BitTorrent.
A VPN’s encrypted connection also comes in handy when you’re using an unprotected Wi-Fi hotspot, like those found at coffee shops, hotels and other public locations. Most of those hotspots aren’t encrypted, leaving your online activities open to observation or interception by unsavory characters.
South Korean residents and visitors to the nation will find that a Virtual Private Network can both protect and enhance all of their online activities.
ExpressVPN provides reliable access to blocked content around the globe, offering users dependable access to their favorite movies, TV shows, games and other content.
Plus, the provider offers top-notch online security, excellent privacy protection, the ability to use the service on all of your connected devices, fast connections and so much more.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.