Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can I Bring My Video Games to South Korea?

Someone asked if they can bring their XBOX 360 to South Korea and I also own and play an XBOX 360 and I did some google searches and failed to find a website with a clear guide to this problem.  I managed to figure it out with by experimentation after I arrived in Korea.  So, I will try and do my best to pass on what I have learned.

I came to Korea with my XBOX 360.  I did so with out knowing how electronics outside of North America differ.  I currently have with me a variety of electronics made in (or rather made for) the United States: a Gateway laptop, a WD external hardrive, a Nikon camera, a Nokia cell phone, and a Sony mp3 player.  All of these electronics have worked fine when I just use a common prong adapter.  However, certain electronics cannot be used anywhere in the world.  Video games systems are one of these unfortunate exceptions.  So if you have a Microsoft XBOX 360, Sony Playstation 3, or Nintendo Wii, this applies to you if you want to bring your consoles to South Korea.

This is what I know:
-- The United States, Canada, and the rest of North America runs on 120V @ 60 Hz with the exception of Mexico at 127V @ 60Hz and Chile at 220V @ 50Hz
-- All of Europe, South Africa, and India runs at 230V @ 50Hz. Hong Kong and Singapore runs at 220V @ 50Hz.
-- Finally, Korea runs at 220V @ 60Hz.
If you turn over your XBOX 360 power brick, it will tell you what that power brick was designed for.  My was intended to be used in the United States and it says it needs an Input AC of between 100-127V and 47-63Hz.


Then, through the use of magic (for all I know) it then puts out a continuous Output DC of 203W.  The XBOX 360 is rated for 245W and a maximum about up to 280W.  Anything above that amount of wattage and your XBOX will be destroyed.

Now, being the extreme n00b that I am, I thought the best course of action to take before moving here was to  contact Microsoft's customer support and ask them if they sold an adapter or transformer that I could buy to play my American XBOX in South Korea.

This led to several pointless exchanges.  I first contacted them on their website and asked if they sold a product that I could buy to allow my XBOX to work in Korea.  I exchanged several e-mails and eventually got them to give me this direct reply to my situation.
Thank you for contacting Microsoft online support for XBOX. I am May and I will be helping you today with this issue. 
As I understand it, you would like to know about the voltage of the Xbox 360 power supply unit so that you can use it in Korea. We appreciate the opportunity to help you. Power supplies are designed for use only in the region in which they were sold. Do not try to use an Xbox 360 power supply that was built for a region that has different power requirements. 
Please be informed not to use the Xbox 360 external power supply outside the country in which the power supply was sold. If you use the power supply in different country, the power supply or the Xbox 360 console may be damaged and the warranty may be invalidated. 
The Xbox 360 power supply contains an internal fuse that helps protect the console from too-high voltage and from power surges. However, the PSU is a sealed unit. Therefore, you cannot replace the internal fuse. The power supply is rated for of 245 watts of continuous power and 280 watts of maximum power. 
Power supplies are designed to be used in the region where they were sold. Do not try to use an Xbox 360 power supply that was built for a region that has different power requirements. Do not use an unlicensed accessory, such as a non-Microsoft replacement power supply, or any accessory that plugs in between the Xbox 360 console and the power supply. 

Microsoft basically told me in no specific words that when I move to South Korea, I have to buy a new XBOX there to continue playing XBOX games... f*** that.  This e-mail also means that anyone who tries to take their North American XBOX with them outside of the country will have their warranties invalidated if they blow their boxes up using a power converter.

With that being known, you use your video game console in South Korea at your own risk!

YOUR SOLUTION:  All you need to do is buy a 1KVA Downtransformer.


I only paid 22,000 Won (less than $20 American) for mine. On the box it says that it converts 220V to 110V and although the box mentions nothing about "Watts," I believe that the "1KVA" means that electronics and appliances can draw from this up to 1000W.  Both the United States and Korea run at 60Hz, so that is the same and is not a problem.

I purchased a 220V to 110V transformer from Radio Shack before I left for $50, but failed to observe that it was only good for electronics requiring up to 100W (ripoff).  So it is pretty much worthless except for charging a phone battery.  Wait to buy a transformer until you arrive in Korea.  Any electronics mart will have one, and if you just draw a picture of it and show it to someone.  They will know what you are taking about.

I have been using the downstransformer now for over a year in South Korea and leave my XBOX 360 plugged in all the time.  It has never failed.  As a precaution I unplug the transformer from the wall and my XBOX from the transformer when I take long trips or when there is a thunder storm.  I read on some websites about these things not being grounded or safe from electrical surges.  So there is always a risk there.

When you buy one, you can test to see if it works without harming your console by JUST plugging in the power brick and then do not have the power brick plugged into the console.  If the light on the power brick turns red, you blew it up.  But you did not damage your console trying to figure out if the transformer you bought works!  If the light stays yellow or green, try plugging it in again with the brick plugged into the console this time.

XBOX Live works like normal.  You will have to have a Korean call your internet service provider to grant access for your video game console, but it works the same.  Internet speeds in Korea are fantastic and there are never any delays playing games with people halfway around the world.  I frequently go online and enjoy multiplayer games with friends back in the United States.

keywords: sony microsoft xbox, x-xbox, x box, nintendo, wii, game cube, 360, elite, 


Aeiji said...

This was the single, most useful article I've read about American Xbox usage in South Korea. Thank you so much, I'm glad I found this. Just bought myself a 1k Down transformer and realized that my brick is dead (from my stupidity with the so-called "travel adaptor" from my first week here). So I'm 3/4ths of the way to playing my 360 again.

Kyle said...

Thank you for posting this! I just arrived back in Korea with a brand new Wii and wasn't sure what I needed. Now I know! Mind posting where you picked your 1kva up from? Thanks

The Waygook Effect said...

Every big city in Korea as a couple mass electronic marts with everything you can possibly think of in them (big building with hundreds of small individual vendors). Figure out where it is and just write on a piece of paper 220V > 110V and they'll know tell you where to go to buy one.

Life In Korea said...

i'm pretty sure you could buy an adapter made in Korea. That big know o the power cord is a transformer of sorts, just like the one on your laptop. you just need to find the appropriate voltage at yongsan, lets say.

akasha said...

I am moving to Mokpo next week. I want to bring my Wii but am short on space, can I buy one there and play in English or are the games only in Korean?

TWEffect said...

You can buy one here and change nearly everything you do on it to English. However, if you buys games, some of them may not be playable on your console back home when you return.

Glandrid said...

Actually, the PS3 has a built in transformer. All you need to play it in Korea is a converter for the plug.

I haven't tried downloading games from the PS3 store since being here, so I am not sure if that works or not. I'd recommend bringing a good collection of PS1 and 3 games, just the play it safe.

jeonny said...

Hey, so when i plugged in my american xbox in korea, it exploded. I am hopeful that only damage was to the power brick and not to my console. Your article was very helpful but do you know if I can buy the power brick in korea or would i need to ship one from america? Thanks for your help

Avi D said...

Brought my Wii from home, learned the hard way that my adapter doesn't work by merely using a plug converter, went to Yongsan and bought a power adapter that had the Korean outlet. Plugged it to my Wii and the wall outlet and everything works fine~ Since the Wii is region specific, the only way to play foreign games would be to softmodd your wii. Buying Korean games for your N.A. Wii won't work for ya.

Hudson Blair said...

Great useful article. Found all the information I needed to get my set-up in order. Much thanks.

Aru said...

As Life In Korea mentioned, you can simply buy a Korean xbox adapter. You could then use an end adapter to use it back on 110V or 120V as it would be converting the AC 240V(in Korea) 120V(in the US) to DC 20V.

laura smith said...

To add to your article, there's an excess of restrictions on what is released and what is not released in Korea in terms of console games (thanks to that slacker government office brimming with old fart politicians who know nothing about gaming and chooses to ban generally things).I'm miserable that I couldn't discover a copy of El Shaddai,or even Twisted Metal 3 anyplace in Korea,yet I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the FTA will open up a few doors for more games to come in.The other reason is by all accounts that the stigma for games is still excessively high, and people either flock to PC bistro's to maintain a strategic distance from the judgmental eyes of society, or don't exactly see gaming as an authentic wellspring of amusement.Not to mention the lack of English speakers and lack of Korean subtitles for generally games.
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