CONTRIBUTED BY SIBO LUNGU
We live in a wired world, and once you arrive in Korea you will see that it is even more evident here than in many other countries. While some people are understandably bothered by being tethered to their mobile phones 24/7, we can’t deny the reality of their convenience.
I have always liked mobile applications and since coming to Korea I have added a few more apps to my list that have helped make my stay here a whole lot easier.
MILITARY BASE APPS
Even military directories have gone high tech meaning, so instead of calling the base operator every time you need a number, or visiting an office physically, you can just download the app and have the information in the palm of your hands in seconds.
There are a handful of base apps available. At one point I think I had them all but I have it since narrowed it down to AAFES Taxi app, MC2 and Base Directory.
AAFES Taxi app: This very handy taxi calling app that allows you to order a taxi as though you were ordering pizza. Cool right!? It even remembers your “order” location so that next time all you have to do is push one button and voila, the on-base taxi has been notified and is on its way. This is very handy if you live off base where on base cabs are not always around and also if you are out of calling minutes too. All you need is Wi-Fi.
My MC2: This is an online base directory with phone numbers for most base resources as well as links to their Facebook pages and/or webpages if they have one. I like it for its base calendar that is updated with upcoming ITT trips, base holidays, and base events. I like this one-stop app that keeps me in the loop for events.
Base Operator: I like Base Operator because it isn’t only for Osan AB but many military installations. Use both My MC2 and this because this one also has office hours within the app. For whatever reason, I cannot ever remember the commissary hours so this helps a lot for that kind of thing.
Google Translate: This is one of the important categories and there are many Korean language apps out there. Everyone has their preference and method of getting by, but I think that many can agree that Google Translate is a good one to have. It doesn’t really work on long phrases (I have received many blank stares), but it will get you by with the few words you will need at the very least: Hello, Thank you, restroom, water, and food, taxi or bus station. For real learning, I like Talk to me in Korean.
Korean Food Guide Book: There is so much good food in Korea but let’s face it, if there aren’t any pictures on the menu, it sure makes it difficult to choose. Also, if you have a special diet, food allergies or a dislike for certain foods, then you may be stuck eating bibimbab for a year or more. And as much as I like bibimbap, I have to say, there are many more interesting things to try. So this is where food apps really help. And there are many. I have added and deleted many over the months but this is the most recent one I have tried, and it has proven to be helpful. It has clear categories and detailed descriptions of many of the main dishes one would see at Korean restaurants. Desserts too!
Many of us in Korea have no car, but we also have no intention of sitting around at home and missing out on all the fun.
First things first: Google is NOT accurate here. Names of places are in Korean, of course, so you are lucky if Google even finds the place; and then even luckier if it’s the location you meant; and lastly it’s just simply a miracle if the distance and route are correct.
Naver: Korea’s “Google” is Naver.com. You can download this app or use their website, but it is in Korean so unless you are learning and practicing the Hangeul alphabet, it is a challenge. What I do is copy and paste the Korean name of the place and voila, results! It’s also amazing how many reviews for businesses like massages and nail spas you get on Naver as opposed to the “0 results found” when you search for the same thing in English on Google.com. It is a challenging app due to language, but worth looking at if you are trying to find something and are having no luck on Google.
Seoul Bus app and Daum Maps: There are a couple of bus and train apps around, and everyone has their preference. Seoul Bus is a popular bus app. I like it because the street names are in English so it serves a dual purpose by helping me find my way. I got introduced to Daum maps (very similar to Google maps- street views and all) first and that’s what I am used to even though it isn’t in English. I find its GPS mapping more accurate than Seoul Bus.
Metroid: Like with bus apps, there are several train apps as well and you will need one. You can easily pick your start and end point, and it will tell you which train to catch, how soon it arrives, and how long the journey will take. I use Metroid. It is easy to use and accurate.
There was a separate post about phones that mentioned Kakao Talk, but I cannot emphasize it enough. Almost everyone in Korea is on Kakao so save yourself some bucks and get it. I even had my job interview on Kakao! Enough said. And who can resist these cute emoticon characters!
Magic Jack: Magic Jack is another one that was mentioned in the mobile phone article. There are many other VOIP options, but Magic Jack has been very reliable for me, so I recommend it. Some people have connectivity problems, but the app is free so if it doesn’t work just uninstall it. Nothing lost.
Skype is a favorite for deployments and other separations and so it remains the top video chat recommended app to actually see your loved ones.
KoreaYe.com has many articles about places to go and things to see in Korea. It’s not an app, but the page itself offers a lot of information so you would want to “favorite it” on your browser. If there is a place you want to visit, chances are that someone wrote about it.
VisitKorea: Official Guide is the official Korea Tourism Organization app. While it doesn’t cover everything for those who want to go off the beaten path, I think it is a great starting point for anyone new to Korea. It provides information about the main sites including the hours and how to get there on public transportation. My favorite thing is to check out on the app is the festivals calendar they are always updating.
There are many great apps around and probably even more being created as I type this up. Whichever one you choose, they are sure to make your stay in Korea much easier whether it’s saving you time, money or stress.