Life in Korea & Tips

A key to the Internet in Korea: the i-Pin

In Korea everything is connected to the Internet. I seldom shopped online when I was living in Spain, but in Korea, it is really easy and quick to find something online and get it delivered to your house. However, even though it is true that South Korea is ahead in these things, there are also many issues to deal with, specially when you are a foreigner. Firstly, many websites will only support Internet Explorer, which is not widely used in Europe.

Internet Explorer

Secondly, many websites will require you to have a secure identification method, which will usually be connected to your local cellphone number, or to your ARC (Alien registration card). Today, I am going to explain more about this procedure, because I seem to have finally understood it (after a year).

What can I use as my online identification?

One of the most popular methods is using your phone number. It is easier and more direct. You will have to introduce your personal information (telecommunications company, phone number, name, …) and then you will get a code on your phone that you will introduce to prove your identification. Sadly, I cannot use it, and this is it’s main disadvantage: you must have a phone contract at your name in order to use this identification. I do not own a phone contract because I decided to just use prepaid (it saves me about 30$ each month, based on my usage), so I cannot use my number to prove myself.

Therefore, I need to use the other popular option: the i-PIN. An i-PIN is what it sounds like, an Internet Personal Identification Number. It is easy to use once you create it, but in order to create your i-PIN, you need to follow a couple of steps. I have taken some screenshots along the sign-up process to try to make this simpler. First, let’s go to Have these things prepared with you: ARC, Public Key Certificate (from the Bank. If you don’t have this, check at the bottom of this post).

01. Landing page
This is the landing page. You can see the button to switch to English on the right bottom side.
01. Landing page (EN)
This is the landing page once switched to English
The first step to create your i-PIN is to agree on the terms. I am not sure what they say, but I just agreed on all.
The first step to create your i-PIN is to agree on the terms. I am not sure what they say, but I just agreed on all.
Next, you will have to input your personal information. But this might be a bit tricky...
Next, you will have to input your personal information. But this might be a bit tricky…

When they ask you to put your name, you have to introduce it exaxctly like it is in your ARC. AND in capital letters, AND the surname(s) first, without spaces AND then your name and middle name (if you have) also together, without spaces. Since I’m from Spain, I have 1 name, 1 middle name, and 2 last names. Therefore, for me it was: LASTNAME1LASTNAME2 NAMEMIDDLENAME (note there’s only one space in between the last names and the names).

Well, after you wrote your name in the right format and your ARC number, you should click on the button that says “The real-name confirmation”. If you introduced either the name or the ARC incorrectly, a pop-up like this will appear:

03. Common error_they cant find your name

If everything went well, then you will be able to create an i-PIN ID (only lowcase characters and numbers). Then, set a password (at least 8 characters, including one special character) and make sure you remember it, select a secret question and write its answer. Finally, introduce your e-mail address and phone number, and use your Public Key Certificate as an authentication method.

03. Introducing personal information full

Click on confirm, and you're done. Yay! Not too hard right? Once you find the right way to type your own name...
Click on confirm, and you’re done. Yay! Not too hard right? Once you find the right way to type your own name…

Things are more complicated if you do not have a Public Key Certificate. This is harder to make because you will need to get it first. I have a digital certificate from my Bank, KEB, and I think that´s the most usual way to obtain one.

Go to your local bank and ask for a Bank Certificate. They will give you a paper with some secret code that you will need when you create your Certificate ONLINE. So go to your local bank and if it’s KEB, chances are that some staff speaks English and will guide you!

For the KEB digital certificate, you can find a tutorial in English here.What you are getting, is a software that will be installed in your computer or phone, and that will serve to authentificate you online. It is not the same things as the i-PIN though, but you will need it in other cases.

Let me know if you need help!


10 thoughts on “A key to the Internet in Korea: the i-Pin

  1. Is prepaid mobile working in Korea? I am using KT monthly package which cost around 40,000won including tax.
    May I know how prepaid work?


    1. Hi Nicole, are you asking if a prepaid line works as identification for online shopping?
      As far as I know, it doesn’t work. I also have a prepaid SIM card, which is why I cannot sign in with my phone to anything, and need to use the I-PIN instead.
      I don’t think the amount you spend per month matters at all, it is just because you are prepaid.
      Also, many times when I gave my phone number to a shop like Lotte (for the Lotte membership card) they always ask me if I’m someone else… so it seems like prepaid numbers are transferable, and therefore cannot be used as personal identification.

      I hope that helps! Have a good day ^^


  2. Did not know that prepaid is working too using what is callef i pin. How much does prepaid work in korea? Include data too?


    1. Hi Malcom, I have prepaid and was able to sign up for i-PIN
      And for rates, you would have to visit the website from the carriers. I use Olleh, which is recommended for foreigners because they have the most English support. For their pre-paid plan you pay on one side the phone (from 1 month to 1 year, and 1 year is the cheapest per month, obviously) and then on the other side you pay the date (works for 1 month and there are different prices depending on how many GB you need. For example I know I use 2GB per month for 22,000won)
      I hope this helped!


  3. That’s cool. I do not need to stuck with the phone contract anymore. And i can plan ahead when i leave korea then. Between, where should i reload the olleh kt mobile? Is there some kind of like buying a card and reload myself kind of stuff?


    1. I bought a SIM card first, then got the phone credit for 6months (and I don’t call or message that much so I usually don’t need to charge that until 6 months later) and for the data I have set that it auto charges my credit card when I 1) run out of data or 2) my data expires (and it’s usually that I run out of data).
      You can do this at any Olleh store, and they usually know enough English to help you through this process. otherwise, visit their website, it has a lot of information in English!


  4. Hi! ARC is the Alien Registration… Code? Well, it’s the identification foreigners get when living in Korea. Buying/doing things in the Internet here requires a lot of work unfortunately u.u


    1. I guess I can’t do this at all since I’m a Korean- American living in America ^^;;
      Was trying to do this so I could join a group in naver.
      And I had my hopes…Thanks anyways.


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