Television Systems, Cable and Satellite TV in South Korea

Information on domestic and cable TV channels available in South Korea, with details of television licence regulations...

The transmission standard is NTSC. A television which does not have NTSC compatibility will not receive signals in Korea. There are three main television/video standards in use throughout the world.

  • NTSC: used in Canada, Japan, Korea, the USA, and some other countries
  • PAL: used in most of Australasia, South Africa and Western Europe
  • SECAM: used in Eastern Europe and France

The three systems are not compatible with each other. It is not possible to watch television on an NTSC or SECAM appliance, or to use DVD or video players which are configured for these systems. Multi-standard TV, DVD or video equipment can play a PAL (or NTSC) camcorder, DVD player or games console.

TV Licences

Anyone who owns a home TV or has one for commercial use must pay a TV licence in Korea. The TV licence fee is 2,500 won per TV, per month, and the fee is automatically added to the electricity bill.

For households, only one TV licence is needed, but this is not the case for TVs used commercially.

Anyone without a television in their home, should contact KEPCO (Tel: 123) or KBS (Tel: 1588 1801) to have the TV licence fee cancelled.

A TV licence fee is not paid in some situations including:

  • Anyone receiving government benefits
  • A home where a family member has a hearing or visual impairment
  • Private homes using less than 50 kWh of electricity per month (excluding holiday homes)

South Korean TV Channels

The main TV and radio broadcaster in South Korea is KBS. However, there are other terrestrial channels available. To view these channels without getting a separate installation, or subscribing to a satellite or cable provider, an NTSC compatible TV and TV licence are needed. These channels provide very little foreign-language programming, except those used for educational purposes.

  • Korea Broadcasting System - KBS
    At: 18, Yeouido dong, Yeongdeungpo gu, Seoul 150-790
    Tel: 02 781 1000
  • Educational Broadcasting System - EBS
    At: 463, Dogok 2-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 135-854
    Tel: 02 526 2000
  • Munhwa Broadcasting System - MBC
    At: 18, Yeouido dong, Yeongdeungpo gu, Seoul 150-790
    Tel: 02 789 0011
  • Seoul Broadcasting System - SBS
    At: 920, Mok 1 dong, Yang chun gu, Seoul
    Tel: 02 2061 0006

Cable TV

To subscribe to one of the many cable TV service providers in Korea, contact a local provider and find out which documents are required. Most cable providers ask for the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Alien registration card
  • Korean bank account number - for the monthly direct debit

Some providers offer various packages which include Internet and an Internet telephone. Subscription charges differ according to the package, the length of time selected for a contract and the location. Customers who sign up for a contract for at least a year may not have to pay for their equipment and installation fees.

Many English channels are available including Arirang, a government sponsored foreign-language channel.

The Korean Cable TV Association website can provide information and an up-to-date list of cable TV providers throughout the country.

Satellite TV

SkyLife is a digital satellite broadcasting company. Depending on the package, more than 140 channels, including 16 English channels are available. SkyEnglishWorld has channels in English.

Customers have to pay for equipment and an installation fee and then a basic monthly charge applies.

For the monthly direct debit, the following information is required:

  • Passport
  • Alien registration card
  • Credit card

To subscribe to SkyLife, send an email or call the customer centre.

  • SkyLife
    At: 14F & 15F Korea First Bank Building, Gongpyeong dong, Jongno gu, Seoul
    Tel: 031 888 0200 (English available)