Yonsei Card, More than Student ID

As HWS considers implementing a student card system, I wanted to discuss the student ID card system here at Yonsei University here in Korea.

Student ID cards are not full T-money cards, however they share some functions.

During Orientation this August we were all given your U cards. These cards are designed to be used for banking although for some reason using this feature is not recommended. It has a viable chip on the fount just like Asian style ATM cards and on the back we learn the card is issued by Woori Bank which has a branch on campus for those needing to open a new account. Also of convenience, the U cards can be used to add value in order to ride the city transport buses and trains in Seoul, however they do not have full T-money capacity, so they can not be used in stores or on taxis. T money cards can be purchased for a few dollars and provide a 100Won (9 US cent discount) on each subway ride, however opening up a bank account is way to get the cards for free. Of course since the U cards are a student ID our pictures, submitted beforehand online, are included along with the university name, logo, and colors. Another added bonus is the listing of our birthday’s because this allows for the ID to be accepted (in most cases) on the rare occasion that one is requested for drinking at a restaurant or more frequent to enter a club. The drinking age in Korea is 19 (what Westerns would consider 18) so almost all college students benefit without holding another document proving they are too young to drink.

Student ID cards can be used to pay fares on the bus and subway in Seoul.

Student ID cards can be used to pay fares on the bus and subway in Seoul.

This is not however the full one card system for campus however because a separate key card is required to enter the dormitory. (Yonsei also does not have meals plans so each meal is purchased separately without needing to confirm identity.) I view this as a disappointment because I was hoping to only have to carry around one card in high tech Seoul, however we are still a way off for the paperless, wallet-less future. Of course the technology, expect for acceptable exist to run our entire lives from our mobile phones including banking and passport controls however safety and implantation become the biggest concerns. Converting every part of our economy from street vendors to police records online would be extremely costly even for a wealthy tech savvy nation. If that one device becomes lost or malfunctions a person would be in a terrible situation. While added a dorm key to the U card system is not so dramatic, the loss of this card would become marginally worse. Also could it be considered safe to have all of that information in the cloud and no back up copies existing or the only copies being in the hands of the government? A hacker could ruin lives and shut down society since deleting data or causing blackouts could prevent people for obtaining necessities and accessing there homes, unless the system was perfect and humans can be perfect. The government could also very easily suspend the ability of criminals and political dissidents to operate by shutting down commence and tracking them down. They could delete citizens from there records and deny there rights. Currently paper money, apartment keys, and physical passports prevent these harms. While the additional convenience can help speed up daily lives along with the economy and usually sometimes provide for greater security and accountability a sufficient Plan B must remain in the hands of everyday people. As we look to Korea as an example of advancement, let us also remain alert about the possible harms.


7 thoughts on “Yonsei Card, More than Student ID

  1. Oh my goodness this was helpful! I’m currently applying to an exchange program from my university to Yonsei and trying to sort out specific expenses to itemize in a scholarship application. I was wondering if Yonsei students have a T-money ability built into their student ID cards and how it would work, since my university allows all students to ride the city buses for free with a student ID. Thank you for this post! I’ll be referring to it a lot while I apply ^-^


      • It’s going very well; my university just accepted my app a month ahead schedule yesterday and is forwarding all the materials for Yonsei to evaluate and give the final say. I do have a few questions that maybe you could address in a blog post if you have time and don’t mind –

        1. Since there isn’t a meal plan, are you ever able to make your own food or did you have to eat out for pretty much every meal?

        2. What did you do on break? Were you able to travel to the country, etc? How did you go about it?

        3. This last one is a bit interesting but I’m just curious haha. Did you have a lot of peer pressure/hazing-type activities to drink?

  2. 1. In the Yonsei University International House/SK Global dorms there is a small kitchen space (stove top, microwave and fridge), which allows for meals to be made. Since my cooking ability is limited I mostly just made breakfast and ate out for other meals, however you can make meals. There is a convenience store inside of SK Global and near the train station a full supermarket.The school has a few good eating options, with a much wider selection off campus.
    3. Drinking is much more common in Korea than it is in the United States. For example it would be odd to dinner off campus and not drink, so if you are not used to drinking that can produce some uncomfortable pressure. The only time I began to feel overly pressured was during Membership Training, which is something many student clubs partake in. Its a one or two night trip that is basically for eating food and drinking alcohol. I wasn’t targeted for being new that much but they still tried to rather resistant in wanting me to drink past what I felt comfortable with. The language barrier also created some problems as I was not able to fully understand the rules of some of the drinking games and at times they tried to take advantage of that. But besides that weekend (I spoke to them about it) it did not seem problematic to me.

  3. 2. I did not travel during the breaks since I choose to travel before I left and was saving the rest of my money for a weekend tournament in Korea outside of Seoul. For those who choose to travel during breaks within the semester, Busan, Jeju Island and Japan were the most popular options. Flights to Japan became expensive since the holiday was soon after the semester started last year, perhaps finding a group to go with before the semester begins is preferable although harder. Some of the people who wanted to China instead had to pick different destinations because of the visa requirements for China (my understanding is that you have to show you will be living in a country for 6+ months to use the Chinese Embassy there get a visa), I would recommend obtaining a China visa before leaving your home country if that is your interest (but again check this information from official channels).

  4. Hi,

    I will be attending Yonsei this fall for an academic year and wanted to know if we will be issued a student ID card upon arrival or will we need to apply for one once we get there?

    • Hi, Thank you for reading and asking. I believe they will be issued near the beginning of orientation, however since it has been several years since I have been at Yonsei, I am probably not the best person to ask. There should be a Yonsei study abroad Facebook group though.

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