One would expect South Korea to be an internet paradise. The country boasts the fastest average connection speed in the world, and the overwhelming majority of its citizens are connected to the internet. However, the South Korean government has recently cracked down on its citizens, denying them (and expats and visitors to the country) access to certain content. Korea’s draconian restrictions block or limit access to anti-government blogs and news sites, gay and lesbian websites, and pornography. The very best way to get around these restrictions, while still enjoying Korea’s blazing fast internet, is to use a VPN.
We recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN for accessing restricted content in South Korea.
Why is Web Content Restricted in South Korea?
South Korea is one of the most connected and internet-savvy countries in the world. By 2015, 88% of South Koreans had a smartphone, surpassing all other developed countries. If you include all internet-capable devices, a whopping 97% of South Korean households were connected to the internet by 2012. High speed internet is cheap, there’s free Wi-Fi in thousands of locations, and PC Bang (“computer rooms”) offer internet for a dollar an hour, and a space to socialize and play online games.
However, Freedom House, an independent international watchdog monitoring internet freedom around the world, rates South Korea as merely “partly free.” That’s because the internet, while ubiquitous, is severely restricted by South Korea’s government. Government censors restrict access to content critical of the powers that be. Koreans’ traditional deference to elders and those in power has enabled the government to maintain strict controls on public discourse.
Furthermore, influenced by Confucianism and the growing popularity of conservative Christianity, many South Koreans have long seen pornography, as well as gay and lesbian material, as perverse. The war on pornography began in the days when South Korea was a military dictatorship, and has continued under democratic rule. The government stepped up this fight in 2012, claiming that pornography led to sex crimes, and partnered with conservative watchdog groups to track and block websites they deemed inappropriate. If you try to access restricted content, you will be met with a warning message, informing you that the website is blocked due to government regulations.
All that being said, Koreans have also earned the distinction as the world’s biggest consumers of internet pornography – perhaps not surprising given their internet-addicted culture. Koreans spend an incredible three times more money on pornography per individual than anyone else. Plus, young South Koreans especially are chafing against their country’s conservative values. Getting around these restrictions is not particularly difficult. The use of VPNs to access blocked content is widespread amongst young South Koreans. Using a VPN is also the best way for expats and those taking shorter trips to South Korea to access content that might otherwise be blocked.
VPN to Unblock Websites in Korea
VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, operate by routing your internet traffic through an anonymous server. VPN providers allow you to choose your server location, so all it takes to bypass Korean restrictions is to choose a server based in a country that doesn’t have those same restrictions, like Britain or the United States, and away you go. The VPN hides your browsing data from your internet service provider and from the Korean government. Because they cannot tell that you are accessing restricted sites, they have no way of blocking you.
Using a VPN does far more than help you simply get over geographical content restrictions. High-quality VPNs secure your web browsing with the highest level of encryption. This is crucial in South Korea, as the government is known to spy on all internet activity in the country. Without this protection, you risk having your activity tracked, and you could even be prosecuted by the Korean authorities for accessing restricted content like pornography. The only way to access what you want and sleep easy at night is via a VPN.
How to Unblock Porn Sites in Korea
Unblocking a porn site in South Korea is pretty straightforward if you’re using a high-quality VPN:
- Subscribe to one of the VPN options we’ve listed below, and download their software onto all of your devices. You can also run the VPN through your router, so all devices sending traffic through that router will be encrypted, although this is for slightly more advanced users.
- Using the software provided by your VPN, choose a server located in a country that does not restrict access to pornography.
- Make sure you have the kill switch activated – this feature makes sure to immediately shut down your connection if on the off chance the VPN goes down. That way, your browsing activity won’t get inadvertently exposed to government monitors.
- Browse away.
Best VPN for Korea
There are hundreds of VPN options out there, some better than others. We’ve narrowed it down to the following three, all of which not only give you access to the content you want, but also prioritize your safety and security online.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which do not have data retention laws. That means ExpressVPN takes absolutely no logs of your browsing data, ensuring your privacy. They have dedicated a great deal of attention to break through what has become known as the “Great Firewall” of China, the sophisticated web of online restrictions that the Chinese government has placed on its citizens’ abilities to access the internet. This factor makes it an ideal Korean VPN, as Korea’s restrictions are much lower – if ExpressVPN can access restricted content in China, it can surely do the same in Korea.
The provider has an impressive array of servers in 94 different countries, so you will have access to whatever content you’re after, including Netflix, which has successfully blocked many VPN providers. The service is blazing fast, and your connection will not be slowed by using a VPN. This makes it perfect for video streaming, as well as for other high-bandwidth activities like P2P torrenting. With all this speed, ExpressVPN doesn’t compromise on security, offering military-grade AES 256-bit encryption, as well as a kill switch and Wi-Fi protection.
One month of ExpressVPN costs $12.95, and three months is $9.99 per month. If you sign up for 15 months, you get three of those months for free, which brings the price all the way down to $6.67 a month. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if for some reason you want to opt out.
NordVPN is known as the VPN provider with the most robust privacy features on the market. They double-encrypt your traffic, which is unique to the VPN market. There’s a strict no logs policy, as well as a kill switch to protect your identity. It’s also super-fast, and with servers in over 53 countries, you won’t be lost for options to access blocked content from Korea, as well as torrent files. NordVPN’s apps are particularly easy to use and set up.
The one-month plan is $11.95, and the full year plan is $5.75 per month – slightly more affordable than ExpressVPN. The real difference comes when you sign up for NordVPN’s two year plan, which brings the service down to a paltry $3.29 per month. There’s also a great 30-day money-back guarantee.
SaferVPN has recently improved its feature set, bringing it up to par with the biggest players in the industry. It is super-fast, with no noticeable difference in browsing speeds, and offers unlimited bandwidth and no download caps, making it perfect for accessing content. It doesn’t collect any logs of your browsing data, although it does collect some metadata to improve browsing times. Apart from encrypting your data according to the AES-256 bit standard, and providing a kill switch, SaferVPN has a unique feature called “Automatic Wifi Protection”. This automatically connects your device to a VPN when it picks up a public Wi-Fi signal, making it ideal for travelers.
The service costs $9.99 for one month, $4.99 a month for a year, and just $3.49 a month for two years. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee too.
Korean VPN to Access Websites Securely
If you’re living in Korea for a while, or even if you’re just visiting for a short time, you don’t have to simply accept the fact that you will have to change your internet browsing habits to conform to the country’s authoritarian and pervasive censorship laws. The best way to continue accessing the sites you want to access, while avoiding Korea’s censors and government agents breathing down your neck, is to use a secure and fast VPN. Beating Korean censorship is as simple as downloading the software and choosing a server.