Map SNAFU in South Korea

This Adventure Runs on Google Maps.

We use it a lot for walking directions, mass transit routes, and for telling taxi drivers where to take us. Therefore, it was a little disconcerting when we got to South Korea and we saw this:

Now that's not good.

Now that's not good.

We weren't sure what the problem was, but it wasn't connectivity—we had solid 3G on our phones thanks to T-Mobile Simple Choice International. Then I vaguely remembered reading some new item about this from the distant past. A quick search later and we learned that due to a laws that restrict the use of mapping data, Google can't give you driving directions in South Korea.

We can still use Google Maps to find where things are located in Seoul, we just can't get turn-by-turn directions on how to get there. This was problematic from the get-go when our taxi driver couldn't find our hotel (this has happened a lot with taxi drivers in many cities, by the way).

We did a little research and discovered South Korea prefers to build its own apps that replicate existing functionality but on a regional level (like it's doing with an Uber-style app), and the go-to navigation app for South Korea is something called Navermap.

Excellent! We were pleased we'd found a solution. So we installed it.

navermap.jpg

And we immediately found it's a great app that does exactly what it promises. Our only trouble with it is that it's only available in the in the Korean language (as one would expect) with no English support.

So we've figured out which buttons we need to press to get walking directions (thanks to Wake Up in Seoul). So now we look up the Korean names and addresses of our destinations in Google, then copy-and-paste that into Navermap. A somewhat roundabout process, sure, but it works.

Here's how Google Maps stacks up to the Navermap experience in South Korea.

No contest, really.

No contest, really.

We also discovered by accident that Apple Maps work in South Korea to a limited extent, but the less said about Apple Maps, the better.


navermap.jpg

Navermap

네이버 지역정보
(literally: Naver Places)

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is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. He also drinks coffee.

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Map SNAFU in South Korea
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