12 Ways Technology in Korea will SHOCK you

Last Updated on June 28, 2021 by Christine Kaaloa

t-money seoul metro cards, cool korean technology
State of the Art Technology in Korea:  T-money cards that are sold in Seoul


People ask me what I love about living in Korea. One of the things I adore about Korea is that Korean technology makes life feel efficient, easy and pretty darned cool.

12 Ways Technology in Korea will shock you.

1. T-money and rechargeable transportation cards

In big cities, much of Korea’s transportation system runs on rechargeable smart cards and smart devices, which take the place of cash.  You can reload money onto your card by placing it down on the card reader; but the technology is powerful and highly sensitive. Rather than search for a card at the bottom of a bag, I’ve seen frazzled ladies in a rush slap their entire purse on the sensor and have it still read.

How it works:  Touch chips are embedded inside and are readable by card-reading machines. These cards are used primarily for transportation – buses and metros- but in Seoul, which runs under the T-money system, you can use them in some taxis and convenience stores, as well. Supposedly, this touch chip technology are in watches, portable memory sticks, rings, and bands, even cellphones.

Way to go, Korea! Rechargeable devices are more economical and eco-friendly!

2. Bank checkbooks that get written at the ATM

Gone are the days when you had to manually keep record of your bankbook and spending. This is by far one my of favorite conveniences. In Korea, just insert your bankbook into the ATM machine and not only can you use it to withdraw money from the ATM, but it will update your bankbook with your banking transactions. In fact, when your bankbook page is full, the machine will even flip to the next page to continue updating it for you.  Seriously, this saves me a lot of handwriting!

korea atm machines, banking in korea, using the Korean atm machines, banking technology in korea, card readers in korea, cool technology in korea
Sticking my bank book into the ATM machine to withdraw money and to get my bank book updated with all my latest transactions


Read: Korean quirks which will Shock you

3. Satellite TV is everywhere

I mentioned this in my last post, but I’ll mention it again…

Satellite TV is everywhere in Korea: taxis, express buses, restaurants, mobile phones and my dentist’s office!


going to a dentist in korea
You can watch TV while getting your teeth cleaned at the dentist

Watching TV as I sit in my dentist’s chair and wait.

4. CCTV is Korea’s big brother system

One way Korea ensures safety is CCTV, a big brother surveillance system which runs throughout the country. If there ever were a crime, you can easily check out the CCTV footage . They have CCTV cameras installed everywhere: neighborhoods, parks, schools, convenience marts, even on streets and highways , etc…

While literally everything in the public gets surveillance (even the highways), the culture doesn’t pervert its use (at least not as far as we know).  Big Brother system helps to effectively reduce crime around the nation. Thus, Korea is one of the safest countries as far as crime and violence goes!

CCTV in Korea, Korean CCTV
CCTV in Korea | cctv is everywhere in korea, even on highways!


5. Controlled toilets

heat controlled toilet seats, high technology toilets in Asia, luxury toilets in Korea, cool technology in korea
heat controlled toilet seats | Korea’s Toto Toilets


Korea bounces between its porcelain hole in the ground and it’s western bowl and when winter chilling your bum (there’s no heating in public places), both are highly unpleasant. Every once in a while however, in hotels or the limelight of Seoul chic, I’d find a heated toilet with bide and uh, air-drying action.  It’s got remote buttons to control heating, bide and a small handful of tricks that I’ve not used.

technology in korea, cool toilet technology in korea, high-tech toilets in Asia

6. Electronic vacancy signs in bathrooms.

technology in koreaPhoto is taken in Busan’s train station.

Is the bathroom stall occupied or vacant? The electronic sign will light up to let you know. While this isn’t widespread across Korea, you’ll occasionally find them in alongside highways at popular rest stop hubs, in bathrooms where there are many stalls.

7.  K-pop!

The Korean wave is heating up and finding global fans with speed with Korean drama and K-pop. When I see Korean pop videos it blows my mind! K-pop is the look, style and flash-n-sparkle that inspires Korean youth, these days. Fun, sexy, innocent, bold and futuristic, K-pop will seduce you with high-beam costumes, high-octane power dance moves and lavish glitz! Just click ‘Play’, dial the volume up a notch and prepare to be dazzled!

2pm hand's up video, kpop boy bands, popular kpop boy band 2pmFrom  2PM‘s  video “Hands Up”

2pm hand's up video, kpop boy bands, popular kpop boy band 2pm

wonder girls nobody music video, cool kpop girl groups in korea, wondergirlsFrom  Wondergirls‘ video “Nobody”

tara roly polyTara’s video “Roly Poly”

big bang love story, kpop boy bands, popular kpop boy band big bangBig Bang

8. Mc Donalds 24 hour delivery service

 I was raised with Ronald McDonald and the golden arches and I’ve only known there to ever be two experiences– sit in dining and drive through. But in Korea, there are McDonalds restaurants with 24 hour and delivery service!  Delivery drivers ride motorbikes and bring your fast food to you.  Dang!  That’s pretty state-of-the-art to me!


mc donalds delivery, mc donalds in korea, mc donalds in seoul

9. UV light sterilizers

When dining out at restaurants or the mall, you’ll often find metal drinking cups , sitting in a glass UV sterilizing cabinet next to the water. The drinking cups are for public use, so they are washed and set to dry in these sterilizers for use.


UV sterilized drinking cups in korea
UV sterilized drinking cups in korea


10. Camera technology

Samsung is known as a leader for television sets and home appliances, but they have not yet gained recognition in camera and video technology which is a shame. They are advanced in that too. I bought my first Samsung point and shoot camera in 2009. My Samsung ST500 camera with dual view LCD screens which allowed you to see your image in the front face of the camera so you could take selfies. It also came with haptic touch screen technology, meaning it vibrated when you selected things on your touch screen view finder and it offered smile detection feature which would take your photo when it recognized your smile.

In 2009, western mobile phones did not have picture taking features and cameras did not have touch screen viewfinders.

Read Things to Know about Korea before traveling

11. Plastic surgery

In Korea, plastic surgery is popular with both, young and matured.  The outward appearance has its place in society and Koreans see good physical features as a stepping stone to success and societal placement.  It is not something that is hidden, but spoken of very openly and you’ll see billboards in metros and pages of advertisements in fashion magazines.

Double eyelid surgery, nose jobs, jaw shavings, botox injections for lips and jaws are common procedures. Plastic surgeons in Korea are quite good and many foreigners and travelers plan their vacations around plastic surgery procedures and medical tourism.

12.  Skin care and hair treatments

Korea knows beauty and in the area of skin care and hair, there are bold advancements. Unlike many western skin care brands, Korean skin care brands do what they say in moisturizing, plumping and firming skin. Koreans work with the finest ingredients and the scent of their products is calming and lightly fragranced to make you feel beautiful.  One leading advancement was BB cream. They were the first country to truly perfect it so that your skin was protected and the look was natural.

Additionally Korea has two favorite hair salon treatments that you won’t find elsewhere~ magic straight and magic volume. These perm treatments seal in a curl or straighten your hair pin-straight so you won’t have to worry about blow-drying and styling for half a year or longer! Treatments can take several hours and cost $150-200 USD, but it’s highly effective and worth every penny! Read about my experience with Korean perms

What do you think about the technology in Korea ? 


Travel Resources for your Korea trip

Booking.com – Hotel bookings. No cancellation fees
Safety Wing – affordable travel insurance with COVID coverage
NordVPN – Online security and the ability to watch Netflix. Use “grrrltraveler” for 70% off 3-year plan + 1 month free
Klook – Book tours in Korea and Asia
Get your Guide – book tours in Korea
Korea SIMs – for prepaid travel SIM Cards
Korea Rail Pass – for getting around Korea

Related Posts on Trip Planning for Korea

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  • Hi, Good information about Korea. Here is one more tip for using transportation in Korea. If you have a ‘T-money card’, you can take all transportation like subway, bus. T-money card is rechargeable and refundable so it could be so reasonable. In ICN(airport), you can buy some good package about transportation. At ‘travel center’, you will see ‘express train and T-money card’ and ‘express train and international taxi’ packages. With express train, you can go to the central of Seoul(Seoul station) directly, after then, you can use T-money card to take all transportation. Fare is 8,900won and this is special deal for only foreigners. If you are interested in these and want to get more information, please find a ‘travel center (located in B1 in ICN). Thank you.

    • Christine Kaaloa
      March 22, 2016 2:06 am

      @AREX Thank you for sharing! This is something many travelers can benefit from.

  • […] Korea can be new and cutting edge when it comes to electronic accessories; as such, they’ve gotten proficient at squeezing them down to sizes ranging from micro-mini and cute. In Seoul, the places to go which are often said to hold bargains are Yong-san Electronics Mall and Techno Mart. […]

  • facebook_silvercoin89
    April 21, 2012 2:26 am

    Totally agree!! and in addition to mc delivery service, there are thousands of foods that can be delivered at midnight!!!! like fried chicken, chinese foods, potato stew(Gamjatang), Bossam(pork), and so on…

  • Love this post. Korea always surprises me with how high-tech it is. Just when you think you’ve seen it all – you find something new. My favourite modern bits and bobs in Korea are the interactive google maps at the subway stations in Seoul, the TV screen thing in Gangnam that projects your face onto the side of a giant building, and the newest and most freaky addition to Korea’s ultra modern capital – ‘the cloud building’ which has not been built yet, but you can check out the plans for it here: http://www.writingfordesigners.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/a-cloud-towers-korea-6.jpeg

    • @Natalie: Yeah, good one! That cloud building really rocks! The architecture should be on this post as well! I’m always pretty impressed with the futuristic buildings I see in Seoul. But I wish they would spread the wealth. You only really find them in Seoul. Korea always surprises me.

  • […] you for visiting our Teach English In Korea article.Working abroad as a teacher can be a richly rewarding experience. Those who do it return with the un…l that is needed is a passport from an English speaking country and a degree in any subject. The job […]

  • Laura in Cancun
    September 29, 2011 4:02 am

    I love the T-money idea!!!

    We have 1 Burger King in Cancun that delivers, but they only go to certain neighborhoods.

  • I just love Korean electronic toilets! The first time I was there, I spent a few minutes just trying out all the functions.. It was quite fun! LOL!

    • @iamthewitch: I love playing w/ them too. But once I pressed a button and it didn’t seem to do anything. As I was pulling my pants up, it shot water up. It was the bedee & I walked away with wet pants.

  • Wow! Who knew they were so much more technologically advanced than the rest of us? I’d love some of these things in the US, like checkbook/ATM thing and the electronic vacancy signs in bathrooms–that would save us all from a lot of embarrassing moments. Though I think we’d all be in big trouble here in the US if McDonalds offered delivery service. LOL.

    • @Gray: True, delivery service w/ Mc Ds, we’d just be supersizing everything and the US would have even more of an obesity problem than it already does! I love the checkbook thing–it’s my favorite!

  • Wow Korea really sounds state of the art country! Haven’t been there yet, but definitely give it a go. So far the most high tech place I’ve been to was Japan, with all their vending machines, capsule hotels, cyber toilets, neon signs and all 😉

    • @Jarmo: Japan, I’d definitely love to visit. I’ve been hearing so much about their vending machines & capsule hotels– I can’t wait to try them out. Cyber toilets I’ve not heard of yet, but I’m guessing there’s a lot to explore there!

  • Enjoyed this read. A lot. Miss you <3

  • Not sure about K-pop, haha, but sounds like they need to export these things! I love high-tech…really want to check out more Asian countries for this. I remember Singapore feeling quite state-of-the-art but I’m sure it doesn’t compare to the efficiency of places like Korea and Japan.

    • @Andrea: I hear similar hubbub around Singapore too; I’ve yet to visit but their sightseeing attractions and such, sounds like it could be sparse. That’s what folks tell me, at least. Japan I expect would be crazy! Can’t wait to visit there!

  • I’m from Malaysia and the McD in Malaysia has 24 hour delivery too. In fact some of the KFC delivers too.

    • @Noreen: That’s very interesting fact about Malaysia I didn’t know! I remember seeing only one McDonalds in Malaysia.. at the Melacca bus station. Usually I like to check them out when I visit different countries (the menus are always “slightly” different with a few very culturally specific food).

  • Haha, when i came to Korea last year for my first time i also noticed the 24/7 McDonalds immediately 😀

    I also like the super-faster-than-light-high-speed Internet !! I downloaded once 7GB in less than 10 minutes !! With peaks over 15 MB / sec.. woohoo !!

    Also i am in love with the variety of food.. there is always something new to explore here 🙂

    Just the language is giving me a hard time here kkk 😉

    Cheers Mika

    • @Mika: Thanks for commenting. Hi-SPEED INTERNET!!! YES!!! That’s one I forgot! Internet in Korea is the quickest i’ve experienced so far.
      Unfortunately, I can’t indulge in the variety of food and the fact i’m vegetarian makes me a bit more skeptical of things. LOL. Hang in there with the language though. It’ll be an adventure!

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