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Why Is Korea’s Wifi Really Fast?

Korea has built itself a reputation in the IT world (IT 강국). Although much of this stems from the fact that some of the world’s biggest consumer electronics companies are based here, it's the country’s internet speed that really turn heads.

Wifi In Public Transportation

The average internet connection speeds (스피드) in Korea are over 20 percent faster than those in any other (다른) country (나라). The country’s 3G network is the fastest in the world and offers over 98 percent coverage. Many visitors rave about the fact that not only can you get phone coverage on public transport (대중교통) in Korea, even on the subway (지하철), you can also connect to free Wi-Fi.

5G Network Is Available

Korean 5G networks have been available since late 2018, but like most 5G networks (네트워크) around the world, only selected customers (유져) have access for now. In late January 2020, 5G was carrying around 20% of all mobile traffic in the country. The Korean government's Ministry of Science and ICT (과학기술정보통신부) predicts that by 2026, 90% of the country's mobile users will have access to the upgraded network.

High Net Speeds

How did net speeds here get so high? A few key factors have helped like Korea’s population (인구) density (밀집도). With 522 people per square kilometer and 83 percent of the population living in cities, it's much easier to connect a nation like Korea than a gigantic country like Canada (캐나다) or the United States (미국).

Help From The Government

The government (정부) has also helped. The simple answer to this is that in the 1990s Koreans decided that their country needed fast and affordable internet (인터넷) provided by a vibrant private sector. In the West, central governments have taken a laissez-faire (자유방임) attitude to their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) while Korea’s government, even back in the 1990s when the net was in its infancy, has been very hands-on with ISPs.

Incentivizing the spread of the web and subsidizing connectivity research has been at the heart of the Korean government’s technology policies.


While educating, the government focused on spreading out high-speed cable connection, encouraging and supporting companies like LG to serve high speed cables. Korea also has a high population density and because most consumers understood this technically already, the industry got very big in such a short time.

Korean Culture

Most Koreans like receiving/serving good quality service. For example, you will be able to get your government documents done in minutes through online and use medical services in less than 20 minutes of waiting without reservation. Koreans like working fast (ppali ppali lifestyle) but also accurate and don’t mind helping extra for better results. Therefore, this lifestyle has encouraged the IT industry to keep pushing their limits on serving better technology. The investment on high speed internet must have been huge, but the Korean government insisted and pushed.

Healthy Competition

The Korean government took decisive action in the private sector by adopting a consistent policy of deregulation that they maintain today. They ensured that barriers to entry were low for new Internet Service Providers (ISPs) thus fostering an atmosphere of competition. With these liberal standards in place, private-sector operators were able to expand the internet from a skeleton framework into a country-wide system and sped up the internet through relentless competition.

In 2005, the large telecommunication companies came under pressure as smaller competitors began to pick up large pieces of the DSL (then the primary connection method in Korea) market. In response, Korea Telecom began to break ground on fibre optic networks throughout Korea, preserving their business and upgrading the country’s internet capabilities. It is precisely this kind of competition that creates an innovative technological environment.

A 10 Gbps Fiber Optic Broadband System

Three years ago, one of Korea’s biggest ISPs unveiled a 10 Gbps fiber optic (광섬유) broadband system that offers download speeds that are up to 100 times faster than today's standard broadband, which will allows users to download a 1 Gb (기가바이트) file in under one second. 

However, is there really any reason for internet speeds as fast as these? If you've ever spent any time in Korea, you will agree that the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Online Gaming Is A Big Factor

Online gaming (온라인 게임) in Korea is a national pastime. Both desktop, laptop and smartphone games (게임) have an enormous following. Koreans spend more than almost any other country on paid game apps and in-app purchases. Some even make their living from professional online gaming.

Makes Up A Large Portion Of The Nation’s Economy

Most Koreans now do their shopping online using domestic sites and make use of domestic search engines. The Korean internet makes up for a large portion of the nation’s economy. It provides jobs (일자리), revenues and endless avenues for startup (스타트업) businesses.

As for phones, Korean smartphone (스마트폰) ownership per person is the fourth highest in the world and combined with the country’s peerless coverage network. These factors have set the stage for a web-based, mobile-platform (모바일 플랫폼) software revolution.

Have you experienced Korea’s fast wifi before? Share your experience with us, we want to hear from you! Since we're on the topic of Korea's fast wifi, check out our blogs on Why Is Kakaotalk So Popular In South Korea and How To Activate Voice Typing On Android And iOS.

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