My wife and I don’t have a TV at home. This is good and bad for a number of reasons:
- We are far more productive with our time.
- We have more “face time” as a couple and more family activity time.
- There’s no KPop and no KDramas in my house!
- We avoid hours of annoying commercials every week.
- We sometimes get bored… and lonely… together!
- We don’t really have anything short to sit down and watch (all we have are movies).
- There’s no regular schedule for Korean Variety and Comedy programs (there are always torrents if we want – but no regular schedule like “every Sunday night is Running Man”).
- We miss all the major sporting events (World Cup, Super Bowl, Olympics).
The Beautiful (FREE LIVE Streaming TV)
There are actually numerous applications and websites that provide FREE LIVE streaming of TV in Korea.
1. Android (arguably the easiest method)
If you have an Android phone, it probably came with a factory installed TV app already:
It looks like the Sochi Olympics will be shown on KBS Star (as you can see from the logo in the upper-left corner below):
Alternatively, if you search the Google Play Store for “TV” you’ll get a bunch of other options.
2. Websites (difficulty level #2)
In Korea, there are a number of different websites that offer FREE LIVE Streaming TV. Our first choice is Afreeca TV (we watched the 2010 World Cup on this site).
**NOTE: This site looks like it requires Microsoft Silverlight and provides a .exe file (so it might not work well on Mac).
Also, the site might require login. Best bet, have a Korean friend help you set it up.
They even have a full page dedicated to the Olympics – complete with a “Current Metal Count” banner in the top right. This would be a page worth bookmarking:
Alternatively, Afreeca TV also has mobile apps available:
3. iPad/iPhone Apps (advanced difficulty)
Actually, in order to install Korean TV Streaming apps onto your iPad or iPhone, you’ll need:
- Access to the Korean App Store, which means you’ll also need:
- A Korean credit card (they require card info when you join), which means you’ll also need:
- A trusted (and trusting) Korean friend.
Lucky for me, I have all three (via my wife).
If you are able to switch your iPad (temporarily) to the Korean App Store, you should see a large “Sochi” link on the homepage. Click it to be taken to this page:
The first three apps featured there are TV apps, and in order of usefulness are:
- Pooq (KBS + SBS + MBC + EBS, etc)
- K (KBS) **Turns out this is the BEST solution for us. It requires no login (at least for now).
- MBC TV
If you install Pooq, you can find a TV Guide by clicking in the upper-right corner of the app and choosing “전체 펀성표”. You can see that the 2014 Sochi Olympics will begin on KBS2 at 12:30am Thursday night:
Alternatively, here are links to other TV streaming apps for iPhones and iPad:
- Pooq for iPad | iPhone (Korean App Store)
- K for iPad | iPhone (Korean App Store)
- MBC TV (Korean App Store)
- Afreeca TV Korean Store | US Store
- 올래 TV Mobile (Korean App Store)
Will Watching TV use up all my Data?
This is a very good question and the simple answer for this is:
Streaming TV is broadcast over different airwaves than 3G, 4G, LTE, or whatever G thing you have. Wi-fi is different and works if you turn off Data. So is TV.
TV is broadcast over DMB (Digital Media Broadcasting) and is one of the reasons taxi drivers are able to watch it in their cars. Go ahead and turn off your Data. TV will still stream just fine.
Want another Alternative to the above? Buy a DMB player or antenna. That’s what a lot of taxi drivers have in their cars that allow them to watch TV as they cruise. Not super safe, but very Korean.