amidst bureaucratic AND protectionist red tape otherwise built-in to an overtly nationalist society, an exessively popular foreign product may find a way through perhaps only in the name of NOT neglecting the general /flow/ of developed nations (like um, “hey we might begin to look like an up-tight old-timer ?” ). yeah I tried to put it as incomprehensible AND delicate as possible but hey, the iPhone is here . in relation to this belated timing alone : I should compare it to watching the classic ‘Gone with the Wind’ in the latest IMAX Theatre (yawn). but before that, a few relevent FACTS building up to this his .. (oh yesss I’m tumbling being so excited to be in this TIME in history) historic moment in the Korean Penninsula :

  1. as South Korea was setting stage to become a major IT Power over the Millennium, a local brand named iRiver starred in popularity NOT only domestically but also abroad for its stylish, easily controllable mp3 players in various versions .
  2. this came about exactly the same time-frame for (rather expensive) local brands to flourish in making AND importing again : stylish AND powerful portable stereo headsets .
  3. as existence of Personal Computers in home AND office multiplied many timesfold from early 1990′s dirty-cheap speakers were imported from China but better sounds have been building up over the Millennium but still keeping its affordable price-hold .
  4. local business in hand with the government blocking the influx of the dreaded iPhone (no surprises here – wars have begun for this, like for .. oil ?) had let slip-in a minor version of iPhone in ‘iPod Touch’ (actually an iPhone WITHOUT cell phone capability) in 2007 . soon iPod Touch rapidly over-ran iRiver at the helm as “the most popular mp3 player”.

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iPhone is currently on reserve from November 21st to be sold from 28th . a relatively few on-line malls are taking reservations as well as ‘Frisbee‘ the largest importer of Apple products into South Korea, offering incentives including owner’s name imprinting on the back, as well as accessories like casing with discounts up to W120,000 when bought with computer products . also one can reserve directly from the carrier KT’s official site .

and you guessed it : iPhone is up there with the most expensive cell phones :

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[ Average Cost of Cell Phones in South Korea with Payment Plans AND Monthly Calls Usage ]
OK you’re in a hurry to grab one before it disappears like magic but before that, to give you an idea what it /really/ costs to HAVE and USE a cell phone (or two) in South Korea :

- note that a brand new ‘popular’(anticipated) full-screen cell phone retails W700,000 ~ 800,000 currently in South Korea .
- cell phones are sold WITH a telecommunications carrier plan and you simply CANNOT purchase the hardware itself to take it abroad especially on (to-be) popular models for initially the seller takes commission out of your future calls .

- you cannot cancel, sell NOR exchange a new cell phone within 3 months of purchase aside from defects .
- there were 3 months as well as 6 months subscriptions to attached telecommunications carriers when purchasing a cell phone,
but as popular cell phone price soared now 1 year and 2 year subscriptions abound, making the initial purchase price more affordable .
however 2 years’ subscription is NOT as limiting as it seems for even if you cancel (still possible AFTER 3 or 6 month depending upon original terms) mid-term you will simply have to pay back for the rest of the 2 years you are skipping out on .

- and an active college student would spend roughly W30,000 ~ 40,000 on monthly calls (but again sending cutsie SMS message might be more cool or cute),
with on-the-go business people spending well TWICE that, while retired parents spend less than W10,000 ~ 20,000 .

-most younger users will have a set data transfer plan of more-or-less W15,000 a month to view videos and log-on to the internet,
while widely viewed land-based DMB TV is FREE and satellite-based DMB TV requires minimal payment .
*keep in mind if you view videos OR log-on the internet WITHOUT a discount plan you will have a bill amounting to MORE than your actual cell phone next month – IT IS OUTRAGEOUSLY EXPENSIVE !!! ITYS (I-told-you-so)

add to this : sellers of SamSung AnyCall brand cell phones will exchange or refund within 2 weeks of purchase no-matter what .

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[ iPhone purchase price AND monthly plans in South Korea ]

iPhone 3GS 32GB retail price . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . W946,000
iPhone 3GS 32GB without monthly plan on 2 years subscription W732,000
iPhone 3GS 16GB retail price . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . W814,000
iPhone 3GS 16GB without monthly plan on 2 years subscription W600,000
iPhone 3GS 8GB expected to be release there-after with ALL color choices of either White OR Black exterior

*WithOut Monthly Plan above means you can choose your own out the many existing KT Monthly Plans which starts as low as W9,000 per month where each call is more expensive than higher monthly plans intended for (elderly) users who do NOT make many calls ..

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PLAN . . . . . . . . . . .  i-SLIM | i-LIGHT |  i-MEDIUM | i-PREMIUM
monthly payment W35,000 | W45,000 | W 65,000 | W 95,000
free calls . . . . . . . . 150 min. | 200 min. | 400 min. | 800 minutes
SMS messaging . . . 200 SMS | 300 SMS | 300 SMS | 300 SMS
wireless data transfer 100MB | 500 MB | 1 GB | 3 GB traffic

iPhone 3GS 32GB W528,000 | W396,000 | W264,000 | W132,000 hardware purchase price
iPhone 3GS 16GB W396,000 | W264,000 | W132,000 | FREE (no hardware purchase price)

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interestingly enough :  the prices are the same if you are

  1. switching phones – transfering from your own KT account (current KT user),
  2. new account – a new KT user,
  3. switching carriers – switching from another telecommunications carrier (usually you still can keep your old number),

where usually the prices were aproximately W100,000 higher in each level above with 1.’switching phones’ options being the most costly (switching phones within the SAME carrier). so this means the price-plan is most advantageous to users who are already subscribed to KT .

also here the plans are fixed at 2 years, where for other cell phones AND plans you had more options of NO subscription AND one-year subscriptions .

and finally the price is exactly the SAME, for now,  no-matter where you apply for reservation . where-as there were fierce price competition especially among on-line sellers .

general concensus so far on related Korean on-line communities is that yes everyone knew it WAS coming AND price would be the catalyst, so no surprises here . but still the monthly plans are on the higher spectrum WITH the only subscription of 2 years . so it will be hefty on your pocket considering Korea as a whole is amidst bad times . so the story goes of teenagers offering dating services short of down-right sex to get THE latest cell phone -_-

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[ South Korea Apple iPhone Lauching Show ]

for die-hard iPhone fans KT will have an official Launching Show at JamShil Auditorium on November 28th from 2pm where the FIRST iPhone in South Korea will be sold . entrance is reserved ONLY to advanced applicants until November 26th .

  • 2pm : Opening count-down
  • 2:10 ~ 5pm : 1000 to-be users will receive their iPhone on-site, with honorary ceremony for the first applicant,
  • followed by artist shows AND iPhone try-out events,
  • 6:30 ~ 8:30 : South Korea Apple iPhone Launching Concert

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and Lord : behold, for to counter-act this /enormous/ foreign threat SamSung is launching its own version of Smart Phones AND 5 models in that !!! woo ~ touchy, to the tune of  ‘Attack of the CLones‘ OST (Original Motion Picture SoundTrack)

 

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- Korea Tech BLog -

 

 

[ December 21st Supplement ]
iPhone 3G 8GB has started selling right after release of the above higher models .

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inter-related Posts :
09.2.6 Apple iPhone 3GS Launch in Korea – available Models, Versions and Price to us KT,
10.8.15 Apple iPhone 4 Official Release in South Korea,
10.8.16 Where to Buy, How to Use and How Much to Sell Apple iPad in Seoul, Busan, South Korea,
10.10.5  Apple iPad Begin Sale South Korea Early Sign-Up Reservations,
11.3.15 Apple iPad 2 Release Date Seoul Busan South Korea,
09.2.9 Largest Apple Store in Korea Open in Seoul,

and dedicated Pages to hold true for over a year :
- Apple Store Directory Korea,
- Apple Support Centers in South Korea,
- Apple Korea F.A.Q. ,