The Best VPNs for Korea

Our experts tested the top VPNs in South Korea to help you find the best fit for your security needs.

By
&
Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on May 13, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on May 13, 2021
NordVPN App

Internet speeds and internet access in Korea are the highest in the world, but that doesn’t mean that browsing is always safe. In fact, over the last few years, hacking has only increased. Whether you live in Korea or are just visiting, a VPN is an essential tool to protect yourself from cybercrime, and we’ve rounded up the best options.

Best VPNs for Korea Number of servers in Korea
NordVPN 10+
CyberGhost 24
ProtonVPN 8
HideMyAss 4
PureVPN 14
Our Top Picks

Best VPN in Korea Overall

NordVPN

Editor's Rating
9.3
/10
Editor's Rating
9.3
/10
NordVPN’s system has never been compromised, nor has it released user information, which gives us a lot of confidence in their security. And with more than 10 servers in South Korea and more than 5,400 worldwide, users can expect high speeds and reliable performance.

Best VPN in Korea for Mac

CyberGhost

Editor's Rating
9.1
/10
CyberGhost-Logo-Header
Editor's Rating
9.1
/10
Based in Romania, Cyberghost is safe from the watch of all of the security treaties, and Romania does not require much in the way of data retention. Cyberghost has 24 servers in South Korea, the most of any VPN we tested, so coverage should never be a problem.

Summary of the Best VPNs for Korea

Comparison of the Best VPNs for Korea

System
NordVPN
CyberGhost
ProtonVPN
HMA VPN
PureVPN
Ranking 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Ratings 9.1/10 8.5/10 8.3/10 9.3/10
Number of Servers in Korea 24 12 10 in Seoul 14 in Seoul
Maximum Monthly Cost $11.95 $10 $7.99 $10.95
Contract Lengths 1 month, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years 1 month, 1 year 1 year, 2 years, 3 years 1 month, 1 year, 2 year
Split Tunneling No Yes Yes (Android only) Yes
Netflix Yes Yes Yes Yes
Torrenting Yes Yes Yes Yes
IP Addresses Static, shared Dynamic Dynamic Dynamic
Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes Member No No Yes No
Read Review CyberGhost Review ProtonVPN Review HMA VPN Review PureVPN Review

Detailed List of the Best VPNs for Korea

  • 1. NordVPN - Best VPN in Korea Overall

    Editor's Rating
    9.3
    /10

    NordVPN is one of the most popular VPNs in the world, and it’s a great choice in Korea since it has more than 10 local servers. Based in Panama, a non-member to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes, NordVPN can’t be forced to hand over data to government agencies, and it has never experienced a security breach or handed over customer data to a government. Best of all, we found that the performance on the user end was just as strong, particularly when it came to things like streaming media. Curious about subscriptions? Check out our NordVPN pricing page to learn more.

    FYI: Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes are surveillance alliances between major global powers, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The countries that have signed onto this agreement share information with each other, including online data that they acquire from spying on citizens.

    What We Like
    • Non-member to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes
    • More than 10 servers in Korea
    • Netflix access and torrenting ability
    • Double VPN
    What We Don’t Like
    • No split tunneling
    • Static IP addresses
    • No phone number for customer service
    • Kill switch doesn’t shut off all applications in the iOS app

    Double VPN for Double the Security

    Most VPNs send traffic through one server, but NordVPN takes that a step further by using a double VPN, a technique also known as multi-hop. Essentially, the information passes through multiple servers and is encrypted multiple times. With that level of protection, web traffic is truly hidden, which we found reassuring, especially since the U.S. State Department has recently warned of an increased risk of hackings in Korea.1

    NordVPN Support
    NordVPN Support

    Low Impact on Speed

    It’s inevitable that VPNs will slow down web traffic a bit. After all, they’re taking our information and sending it somewhere else before it goes on to our online destination—it’s like a stopover on a flight. But in our testing, we found that NordVPN’s impacts on speed were minimal, especially on our PC, where it only slowed downloads by nine percent. The impact was more significant on our Mac, with a 25 percent slowdown, but that was still well within the range of high-performing VPNs. Not to mention that having multiple servers in Korea means that you’ll never be too far from a connection, which has a major impact on speed.

    Minimal Logging

    When we browse the internet without a VPN, whether that’s on our own private Wi-Fi or a public network, our Internet Service Provider (ISP) can see everything we do. Using a VPN just shifts that knowledge away from the ISP to the VPN provider. For that reason, it’s essential to choose a VPN that won’t do anything nefarious with your personal data. NordVPN has a strong privacy policy, logging only the information it needs to maintain our account, like our email address, payment data, and timestamps of our last session status. It never logs things like our IP address, the sites we visit, the files we download, or even how long we spend using the VPN.

  • 2. CyberGhost - Best VPN in Korea for Mac

    Editor's Rating
    9.1
    /10

    CyberGhost is a popular VPN in Korea since it has 24 servers in the country, as well as thousands more in 90 countries total. Headquartered in Romania, it’s safe from the jurisdiction of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes. Best of all, it’s a highly affordable product that still offers excellent customer service, a combination we don’t see too often.

    What We Like
    • Non-member to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes, and not subject to data retention laws in Romania
    • Excellent customer support
    • 24 servers in Korea
    • Military-grade encryption
    What We Don’t Like
    • No split tunneling
    • Logging policy retains the user’s IP address, the time they used the VPN, and the country they used it in
    • Static IP addresses
    • Slow on PCs

    Great Speeds for Macs

    The extent to which VPNs slow down traffic can vary considerably between PCs and Macs. But when we tested it with our MacBook Air, CyberGhost blew us away. It only increased ping time by 14 percent (the average is 32 percent), and it slowed our upload and download speeds by less than 10 percent each, which is pretty remarkable.

    CyberGhost App
    CyberGhost App

    Great Value

    Even though it’s one of the better VPNs out there, CyberGhost is also affordable, especially if you are willing to commit to a longer-term contract. If we had invested in a three-year contract, our monthly cost would only come in at $2.50, an amazing deal considering that their month-to-month VPN rates come in at $13 a month. Given that we could connect up to seven devices and had access to both Netflix and torrenting, it was hard to pass up. Learn more about CyberGhost’s subscription options.

    User-Friendly App

    The CyberGhost app is intuitive, easy-to-use, and even a little whimsical. We thought its cute ghost interface was totally charming, and it has good reviews. In the Apple Store, it’s rated 4.2. In the Google Play store, it’s just about four stars. Some reviewers didn’t find the interface easy to figure out, but we thought it was quite straightforward and had no trouble getting connected.

  • 3. Proton VPN - Best VPN in Korea for Privacy

    Editor's Rating
    8.5
    /10

    Based in Switzerland and founded by actual nuclear physicists, this VPN keeps its physical infrastructure in underground bunkers. And since they are strict about only logging the minimal data necessary to run accounts and are not subject to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes, we felt confident that our data was safe.

    What We Like
    • Non-member to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes
    • By Swiss law, ProtonVPN cannot be forced to log customer data
    • Excellent speeds (over 60 Mbps on both Mac and PC in our tests)
    • 12 servers in Korea
    What We Don’t Like
    • The only customer service option is an online ticket system
    • Expensive
    • The basic option only allows two devices to be connected simultaneously
    • The basic option doesn’t work with international Netflix

    Privacy Policy

    ProtonVPN has a strict, audited policy to never record information beyond your email address, payment information, and support requests. And even that data is encrypted and deleted the moment a subscription ends, making it one of the best VPNs out there for privacy-focused users.

    ProtonVPN Kill Switch
    ProtonVPN Kill Switch

    Split Tunneling

    Split tunneling means that only some of our traffic is routed through the VPN, while the rest continues to move through the public Wi-Fi network. For example, if we want to watch Netflix on our normal Wi-Fi and browse the internet securely through the VPN at the same time, that’s totally possible with ProtonVPN. Split tunneling preserves bandwidth, increasing speeds.

    Fast Connection

    While all VPNs cause the internet to slow down by some measure, we had no trouble streaming, uploading files, or gaming while using ProtonVPN, impressive considering that it has such an advanced level of security. In terms of measurements, ProtonVPN slowed our PC’s download speed by 42 percent and our Mac by 87 percent. However, both computers still came in with speeds over 60 Mbps. Upload speeds only decreased by four percent on our PC and by 10 percent on our Mac. Gamers like us will also be happy to hear that latency increased by only one percent on the Mac and by two percent on the PC. That being said, gamers and other users who need the absolute best performance might want to check out our list of the best VPNs for gaming to see how ProtonVPN stacks up.

  • 4. HMA - Best VPN in Korea for Apple TV

    Editor's Rating
    8.3
    /10

    We have to admit that this VPN—often abbreviated as HMA—intrigues us with its name alone. And if that isn’t enough to reel you in, it boasts some solid security features, like strong encryption and dynamic IP addresses.

    What We Like
    • Dynamic IP addresses that can be set to change every 10 minutes
    • Great for streaming media, including Netflix, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime
    • 10 servers in Seoul
    • Strong encryption
    What We Don’t Like
    • Based in the U.K, it is subject to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes
    • Browser extension logs IP addresses and domain names
    • Significantly slows down computers, especially PCs
    • Split tunneling only works with Android

    Servers

    HMA has 10 servers in Seoul and more than 1,100 servers elsewhere in the world. It covers 190 countries, so if you’re traveling outside of Korea, you’ll be able to use HMA the same as you would at home without any difficulties.

    HMA VPN on on Mac
    HMA VPN on on Mac

    Streaming

    HMA is a great option for those who like to see what Netflix, Apple TV, and other streaming services offer up in different countries. English Premier League fans will even be able to tune in to live matches from Korea! When we’re caught up in the daily grind, we find that watching different countries’ content is a great way to feel like we’re traveling while we’re planted on our couch. No wonder HMA is one of the best VPNs for Apple TV.

    Dynamic IP Addresses

    When we surf the web without a VPN, our IP address (which identifies our specific device) is visible to advertisers, websites, and hackers. VPNs route our traffic through a different IP address. We prefer the dynamic IP address approach, which gives us a new IP address with each new browser session. HMA takes that one step further, allowing us to opt for IP addresses that change every 10 minutes. By the time hackers could catch up with us, we’d already be using a different IP address.

  • 5. PureVPN - Best VPN in Korea for Travel

    Editor's Rating
    9.3
    /10

    Based in Hong Kong and in operation since 2006, PureVPN is a solid choice for Korea with 14 servers in Seoul. Those who leave the country frequently for work or leisure will also appreciate that it has 6,500 servers in over 180 countries. Outside of the jurisdiction of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes and with a strict data logging policy, this VPN is also a strong choice for privacy-focused users like us.

    What We Like
    • Third-party verification of data-logging policy
    • Kill switch works on Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux
    • 14 servers in Seoul
    • Strong speed performance, especially on Mac
    What We Don’t Like
    • Poor customer support reviews
    • Simultaneous connections limited to five devices
    • Apps have mixed reviews
    • Increased ping by 380 percent on PCs

    Data Logging Policy

    Plenty of VPNs make big claims about the security of their users’ data, but we’re often left to take their word for it via their privacy policies. That’s why we appreciate the fact that PureVPN hires an outside firm for periodic audits to ensure that they are holding up to their promises around customer data. We could rest easy knowing that even the most basic data wouldn’t be shared with any government, too, since PureVPN is located in Hong Kong, which is not part of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes.

    PureVPN Mac App
    PureVPN Mac App

    Dedicated Torrenting Servers

    PureVPN has special servers in Korea set up for peer-to-peer (P2P) file transfers, also known as torrenting. P2P is a useful way to share files (for instance, sharing large data sets or pushing software updates), but it’s easy for bad actors to sneak malware into the files you download.2 And since Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don’t like users to take up bandwidth with torrenting, your internet can be throttled if they catch you. By using PureVPN, we were able to torrent under a different IP address and bypass those ISP restrictions (although it won’t offer protection against malware; no, you’ll need antivirus software for that!).

    Affordable Pricing

    PureVPN provides great service in Korea without breaking the bank. All of its pricing options are reasonable, with the highest-priced option (a pay-per-month-subscription) costing just $10.95 a month. If you commit for a year, that goes down to just $5.81 per month, and if you pay up front for two years the price drops to $3.33 per month. The company also offers plenty of options to pay for the service, including Paypal, credit cards, and even cryptocurrency. Each of these pricing options allows the user to connect up to five devices simultaneously. Learn more about PureVPN’s pricing.

Ranking VPNs: Our Methodology

While looking for the best VPNs in Korea, we focused first on which VPN options had the most servers in Korea to ensure that we’d have a strong connection and high speeds. That being said, we leave no stone unturned when we’re testing VPNs—after all, hackers are looking for any little inroad they can find. Rest assured that we’ve tested everything you can think of!

Security

The whole point of a VPN is to provide security, so we carefully examined the pros and cons of each solution’s approach. The key flaws we want to watch out for are DNS leaks, which expose the sites a user is visiting, and WebRTC leaks, which expose the user’s IP address. Since protecting web traffic and IP addresses is the main point of a VPN, problems in those two areas are a big deal.

We looked for Domain Name Server (DNS) leaks using DNSLeakTest.com, where we could see exactly what DNS address came up as we browsed the web and check them against our own. If a VPN is working, our DNS will never be exposed. Keeping that information protected is a major privacy and security concern, so this is a really important test for us.

We tested for WebRTC leaks using ExpressVPN’s tool (yes, it belongs to one particular VPN provider, but it still gives us the objective information we need to determine if there was a WebRTC leak or not). Like with the DNS leak site, we simply checked the IP addresses that were being pinged out there onto the web against our own to ensure that our real address was not public.

But it’s not just about the tech—the company building the VPN also plays a role in our security online. That’s why we took a careful look at each company’s privacy policy and history. In particular, we checked to see if each company falls under the jurisdiction of any of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes countries (which have all agreed to share private web data with each other as part of their intelligence efforts). If a company is not headquartered in a Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes member country, it can’t be forced to hand over customer data (well, legally anyway).

Privacy policies are also something we look at carefully; in our view, VPN providers should only need the account information that keeps us connected and is necessary to maintain our subscription. If the company is keeping any data they don’t need to operate our account—really, anything beyond our email address and payment information— then we do some additional poking around. We’re especially concerned if they log any kind of browsing or traffic data. Finally, a few additional features provide additional peace of mind. These include double-hop or multi-hop VPNs, which use multiple servers to ensure that our data is encrypted multiple times, and kill switches, which close our internet activity if our connection is disrupted to ensure that it isn’t exposed.

Speed

While VPNs do slow down internet access, there’s quite a range of how much they impact it’s speed, and that kind of nuance can make or break your ability to watch Netflix or even just check your work email in an airport lounge. To assess a VPN’s speed, we run speed, upload speed, and ping (latency) tests using SpeedTest.net. We connect directly to both our private Optimum network and the VPN and compare the results, finding the percentage difference between the two. While we use one device at a time, we test on both a PC and a Mac because the two types of devices already have different speeds and because VPNs can impact them differently. As a rule, we want to see VPNs slow down web traffic by no more than 40 percent in any of the three categories.

Performance

Let’s be honest—we love using VPNs for Netflix, as certain popular shows like Parks and Recreation and Criminal Minds aren’t available on Netflix in Korea. However, by using a VPN and connecting to a U.S server, it’s possible to access U.S Netflix options without leaving Korea (though, of course, this is never guaranteed since Netflix is actively trying to stop the practice). We also check out VPNs compatible with torrenting.

Tied back to speed, we also like to see a VPN effectively use split tunneling, which means that both the VPN and the public network are being used at the same time. Sometimes using both together can slow down the computer, but VPNs with the best split tunneling systems keep speeds higher since only some of the traffic needs to move through the VPN.

Subscription Costs

We can’t put a price on security—but let’s face it, we’d all like to get that security as cheaply as possible. VPNs range quite a bit in price, though most land somewhere around $4 a month with a longer-term subscription, depending on factors like the number of devices covered. Generally speaking, we’ve found that purchasing an annual or even two-year subscription saves significant money over a month-to-month plan, though we like to see VPNs that offer multiple options. We are also big fans of the trial period, so that’s always a bonus—and, in fact, we’ve even made a list of the best free VPN trial options. There are some decent free VPNs out there, but they often come with data caps and other downsides, so if you use public Wi-Fi even somewhat frequently, you’ll be better off with a paid version.

Pro Tip: Committing to a two or three-year contract gets you the best VPN rates, often bringing costs under $3 a month, which for some companies means a savings of 75 percent or more.

Support Options

It’s hard to find good customer support for tech products these days, but most of us end up needing it sooner or later. While not many VPNs offer over-the-phone support, we like to see multiple additional options, like online chat, emails, and support tickets, for getting help when we need it.

Apps

Protecting your security while browsing on your phone is just as important as it is on your laptop, so in our opinion, a VPN needs a strong app to really be top-of-the-line. In addition to testing the apps on multiple types of phones ourselves, we check out the reviews for both the iPhone and Android apps for each VPN to make sure that most users have a positive experience.

Best VPNs for Korea FAQs

  • What VPNs work for Netflix in Korea?

    Some VPNs that work for Netflix in Korea include NordVPN, CyberGhost, ProtonVPN, HideMyAss, and PureVPN. Two particularly great choices for Netflix streaming are NordVPN and PureVPN, which both keep speeds high enough to stream without interruptions.

  • Is there a free VPN for Korea?

    We recommend using a paid VPN for better security, but ProtonVPN’s free option is our top choice for users in Korea. If you want to test things out before committing to a subscription, NordVPN’s free 30-day trial is also a great starting point. Of our other recommendations for Korea, CyberGhost offers a one-day free trial, and both ProtonVPN and HideMyAss offer seven days free.

  • Why does a VPN change my IP address?

    By routing your web traffic through a completely different IP address, VPNs separate your online activity from identifying information, helping to protect you against hackers.

  • How can I tell if my VPN is secure?

    To see if your VPN is secure, first check to see if the VPN falls under the jurisdictions of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes surveillance alliances. Next, read the privacy policy carefully to see if the VPN stores any information besides your email address and payment information. If you don’t want to take their word for it, look for a VPN that has outside auditors check their logs. You’ll also want to look at the encryption standards they follow and check to see if they have any breaches in their past.

Citations
  1. OSCA. (2019). South Korea 2019 Crime & Safety Report.
    osac.gov/Country/SouthKorea/Content/Detail/Report/6d2ced24-cc8e-4077-8b75-15f4aeb80d5f

  2. PureVPN. (2021). The Best P2P VPN Service for File Sharing in 2021.
    purevpn.com/features/p2p-vpn