Using Starling in South Korea 🇰🇷


Has anyone any experience regarding using Starling in Seoul South Korea please?


Most ATMs have the option to switch the language to English.

Most ATMs in Seoul are inside banks and not on the street, some ATMs will ask for your account type and you will want to select “Checking Account”.

The majority of ATMs utilise magstripe instead of using the card chip.

Near the DMZ you may find that your phone connectivity stops working due to signal jamming from the North, this doesn’t effect your card but it does mean checking your balance can be difficult.


Out of interest, is it even possible to make card transactions on North Korea?

(off-topic I know but didn’t want to create an unnecessary thread)


There are no ATMs and while they had planned to introduce a national debit card scheme the international card schemes like MasterCard and Visa do not operate there due to US trade embargos.

As for hard currency banknotes, US$, EUR, and Chinese RMB can all be used interchangeably in North Korea.

I would recommend using Chinese RMB for smaller purchases like water, snacks, souvenirs. EUR are good for entrance fees to special events. US$ can be used everywhere else, and much like in other countries in the world, it is the currency of choice.

It is best to bring a mix of these currencies and to bring smaller denomination notes, as some vendors will not have the right amount of change.

In addition, I have been told that North Korean banks do not take notes that are worn or torn, issued prior to 2000 or generally look like they’ve been “washed.” Try to bring newer, cleaner notes.

There are no ATMs or bureaux de change offices/kiosks in North Korea, so be prepared and obtain currency before entering the country from China or South Korea.


Really interesting, thanks Richard.


Just spent 3 days in Seoul and card is widely accepted. Ran out of what little cash I took there but ATM worked ok and charge wasn’t exorbitant.


I am currently in South Korea and I am using Starling to make payments and withdraw cash.

In stores, you give your debit card to the cashier and they process the payment for you. They don’t do it by wireless payment and they don’t require us to key in our PIN.

At cash machines (I use the Woori Bank ones), you can select the language to be English. You can then choose foreign card and cash withdrawal from checking account. There seems to be a fixed charge of 3360 won for each withdrawal (I’ve tried 30000 won and 50000 won and the extra charge doesn’t change, not sure about larger withdrawals), so it makes more money sense to withdraw larger amounts.


I was in Seoul last week and also withdrew money from a Woori bank ATM. I think you are right that there is a fixed charge of 3360 won. I withdrew 150,000 won and then 40,000 won and the fee was the same. It is nice being able to select the kinds of notes you want. Woori seemed to have lower fees than some other places. I saw somewhere with like a 4500 won fee.

Maybe it is just me, but Korean ATMs are the most confusing I’ve seen. I found it easiest to go through the options on the screen before putting my card in.