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Korea travel: There’s an app for that – March 2012 edition

March 9, 2012 - Chris Backe

A WHILE back, I wrote a post on the apps to make life in Korea  a little more interesting. A few other apps have been reviewed here as well, but I thought it was time to take a look and see what’s new or been updated. Without further ado, here are several Korea travel apps worth checking out.

QUICK NOTE: Please ensure the app is compatible with your device – iPhone versions typically work on iPads and iTouch devices, but not always.

Jihachul – the best Seoul subway app around (iPhone version, iPad version - both free)
Sometimes the best thing about an app is that it doesn’t change much. For as long as I’ve used Jihachul (the word for ’subway’ in Korean), the interface and functionality hasn’t changed one iota. The app is continually updated whenever the subway gets longer or a new line gets added, and the timetables, while not completely perfect, are a good reference point when on the train. The maps ’pinch-and-zoom’ perfectly, making any station easy to read.

The only real disadvantage is a weird one: when it’s time for an update, it HAS to be downloaded and applied before you can even use the app. For people running a wi-fi only version of the iPad or the iTouch, this is a potential issue I hope the developers fix soon.

MediApp - official medical tourist assistance (iPhone, free)
Having invested plenty of money in the infrastructure to make people better (or at least prettier), an app released by the Korea Tourism Organization offers information on Korean medical care and hospitals. The target market is the people considering a trip to Korea for ’medical tourism’ – a field Korea would love to compete in alongside other Asian countries. While not as useful for residents or other categories of tourists, it’s a great starting point for learning about Korean medical tourism. Note that there’s only an iPhone version; iPad users are left with the scaling-up mode.

mycoex: your mall has an app (iPhone, free)
Although most of the features requiring an Internet connection, this app enables you to know almost any piece of public knowledge about Korea’s biggest mall. The two most-commonly used sections – the location and amenities searches – are decent ’pinch-and-zoom’ style maps. The other sections don’t offer much of anything new, although instructions for the City Air service might be helpful to some. Note that there’s only an iPhone version; iPad users are left with the scaling-up mode.

Seoul Travel Mate – a fast, but oddball, program. (iPhone, free)
Seoul’s main strength is it’s speed – never something to underestimate when you’re on the go and seconds count. It’s a straightforward subway map and address locator for the entire Korean peninsula, the latter feature bringing up a Google map search for that address. The gu’s and dong’s for each city come pre-populated, so the only slowdown is when the program uses the internet to get the Google map. It’s simple, straightforward, and speedy, but lacks some of the eye candy seen in other programs.


 

GLORY (글로리 – KORAIL app) – tells you all about the trains, but in Korean only (iPhone, free)
While not designed for the tourists, it’s great if you know enough Korean to navigate the menus. Korail, the national provider of trains across the country, allows the user to search train schedules and buy tickets from your iDevice. Just like the MediApp, it’s an interesting niche app, but limited in its usefulness. If you’re willing to give the app a try, check out the Qi Ranger’s post where he translates and guides you through the main functions.

 

KorTaxiMeter – an exercise in virtual uselessness (iPhone, free)
Anyone with an iPhone or a long memory might remember the ‘I am Rich’ app, which simply displayed an image showing the user’s financial status (or lack of intelligence). This app feels almost as useless, personally. Its main function – keeping track of your taxi fare within Korea – is completely duplicated by the in-taxi readout. Even if there happens to be a discrepancy, I can’t see a tourist winning an argument with a taxi driver… The history function offers a central place to record your taxi rides, although I see no feature to upload them to another service. You can set your region in an options screen, which provides an interesting comparison in taxi rates across the country.

 

HE Dictionary English to Korean – excellent English and Korean dictionary (iPad ONLY version, both free)
An excellent English-to-Korean dictionary, and vice versa. The app is completely usable offline, except for a few online dictionaries which seem perfectly suited off the main screen.

As an app to use in the classroom, this is great. Type in the search one time, and tap through the tabs to get the Korean translation(s), a thesaurus, and the etymology of the word. The VOA Word Book is also built in, giving a simple definition where the WordNet options gets complicated quickly.

Seoul Taxi Guide – a database of Seoul’s sights and places. (iPhone, $4.99)
A little shameless self-promotion here – I played a role in the creation of this app. Disclosure aside, there’s names, addresses, hours, and phone numbers for over 3,000 points of interest around Seoul or the surrounding area. Information spread across dozens of websites is brought together in a logical and easy-to-read way. The app’s intended highlight, the taxi card, is an easy way to show the taxi driver (or anyone trying to help you out) where you’re trying to go. Even if you can’t read the hangeul, or Korean alphabet, you can bring up the menu options to show the local language to someone else.

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