Perhaps I'm wrong about this assumption, but ever since the invention of the ATM or hole in the wall, I had always thought one their most benign gifts was access to hard currency 24hrs a day. Its true in every country that I've lived in or visited. So correct me if globally this is not so unusual after all.

Korean ATMs are NOT open 24hrs. They are closed after 10pm at night and won't dispense money again until 8am the next day. I don't understand. I thought the whole point of automation was that you don't have to pay a monkey or dwarf or whatever to pull the lever. No person to employ, no opening hour restrictions.

If I ever find out why this is so, I'll update this node but at the moment this remains a mystery to me. Asking a number of Koreans the general idea was that the guy that watches the machines has to go home. I'm not buying it.

Perhaps its the almost zero illegal drug use in Korea, and there is no need for large midnight withdrawals.

Keep this information in mind if you are ever traveling in Korea. I've had the unpleasant experience arriving at 2am at a bus terminal with no money, no chance to get money, taxis that won't take credit cards and hotels where you have to pay on arrival.

Another thing that might confuse you is that when given the choice of the menus in English, the card may be rejected or the transaction canceled as foreign cards are not accepted, this is also true of any domestic accounts English speakers might have in Korea.

The trick is even if you can't read the Korean, to use the logic of good GUI. Assuming you want to make a withdrawal,

  • Keep pressing the upper right touch sensitive screen button until there is a chance to key in an amount.
  • Note that the number may be multiples of 10 000 (the man) before withdrawing your whole balance.
  • The withdrawal of large amounts ( over 700,000) comes in a mix of man won and bank cheques, if you want just cash either key in a lower amount or repeat the transaction a second time.
  • Upper right remains the key for confirmations.

A wad of green should then be offered to you, unless you had the misfortune to be desperate for cash outside the operating hours of a machine designed for convenience.