from the on-set I should mention I am writing this because of sheer inquiries I get on how to use extremely popular cell phones made for use extensively within South Korea – abroad . noteably China, Phillippines, Singapore and the States . and I would reveal that there are a few ways to do this but I do NOT recommend it for the average user . so I would only mention a general scheme without indicating where and how .
if the World was a perfect place there would be no national borders, not to mention Universal wall plugs AND cell phones . but circa 2009, on Planet Earth : different electronics manufacturers make cell phones intended for a specific telecommunications network in a set country . most modern nations use SIM cards to identify the user AND carrier but some older brands do not use this .
South Korea only recently made use of SIM cards and even now does NOT depend much on it because Korean cell phones for domestic use is network-locked . meaning it would NOT work even if you brought it abroad and insert your own SIM card . more so, buying a brand new device especially the latest model is virtually impossible for foreign use, because it is initially sold WITH the dedicated telecommuncations contract intact .
[ Why ? use Korean cell phones abroad ]
where there is a need, a market would pop up to meet it while producing profit .. even it is illegal, or at least in the grey zone . it is much easier for Koreans to purchase a domestic-intended cell phone and find ways to use it abroad than a foreigner would . because he/she can purchase insdie Korea or from a Korean dealer in Korea Town abroad where there is a large Korean population . there are several good reasons why a Korean would want to use his/her domestic cell phone abroad :
- the most common scenario is those living abroad but prefering Korean menus instead of English . those who have a Korea Town near-by know a Korean doesn’t even have to speak English to live abroad . I should also note here that Korean cell phones, even for domestic use, produced post-Millennium contain Korean as well as English menus, selectable in ‘system options’ menu .
- the second case comes when Koreans have to travel abroad long-term or short-term . although KTF have a special service enabling Koreans to have a Japanese or Chinese local number in ADDITION to his/her number in South Korea, international roaming charges are way ~ too expensive .
- then comes the fad . no, I wouldn’t call it a trend, for the popular Boys Over Flowers Phone “Haptic Pop” the SamSung Electronics AnyCall SCH-W750 is sliding down the popular list giving way to more newer cell phones such as Kim, Yuna cell phone Haptic Mini . it has lasted on top of the wish-list for 4 months since the TV-series of Japanese animation origin aired in South Korea early 2009 .
[ a few ways to Hack and Crack ]
basically there are 2 ways to go about making a Korean cell phone work outside Korea, although the means may interchange depending on the model AND intended country of use :
- underground SIM cards called ‘Magic SIM’ or ‘Turbo SIM’ fools your cell phone into thinking this is a device usable in your country . it is also called “Double SIM Cards” it is very very thin and attaches like a sandwich together with your original SIM card, then inserted together into your cell phone . these are sold mostly on the Internet from Eastern Europe or China .
- a cell phone may be “hacked” for use outside Korea . procedure is by altering the software contained in the cell phone . this is usually done by Korean cell phone stores in an area where there is a large Korean population abroad, such as “Korea Town”.
and you guessed it : the above procedures are NOT limited for use of Korean cell phones abroad but can be implicated to virtually any country’s cell phone to be used in many other countries . also effecting both above is that such hacking takes time, so may be used on cell phones 3 ~ 6 months since first date of sale . for example the Boys Over Flowers Phone “Haptic Pop” SCH-W750, which started selling in South Korea March 2009, can now be used abroad in limited countries by software tweaking as of June 2009 .
[ Legality and Product Support issues ]
depending on how you look at it all this may not be a deadly crime, but will put you out of free repairs should something go wrong – that is unless you know how to revert it to its original state before seeking professional help . electronic devices, especially those with LCD’s should have full product support because there are so many ways that can go wrong, more so if you travel .
this is why I suggest you buy directly – cell phone WITH working SIM card – from a Korean store near you because they will know how to, or let you know where to fix it should mishap happens . as for the hardware – the cell phone itself – you may find a friend in South Korea eager to buy it, at top price if it is WITHOUT a telecommunication subscription – usually W700,000 for latest full-screen touch-sensitive models – but will have to send it back to in case of repairs .
now ask yourself if you really want to go through all this trouble to buy a popular model that will fade away in the next season . I am sure there are attractive models available in your country and carrier . because there are many cell phone models only sold abroad that Koreans want to have um, like iPhone (only available in Korea currently is iTouch which is iPhone without the phone).
curiosity and greed, although sometimes work for the better, can also thrust you into a situation you never, ever wish had happened ..