there’s been ONE noticeable part-time job for travelers into South Korea this Summer of 2010 . for due to belated official release of Apple iPad into the numero Uno iT-land, sort-of black market has been flourishing . but no one calls it “illegal sales” for it is NOT done in the traditional Ghost Market in South Gate NamDaeMoon or RiverSide HanGang Shopping Arcade I mentioned on my Seoul-Guide Pages – but rather in popular Apple-related and general re-sale communities .

even late Spring when Apple iPad starting rolling off US shelves, there were NOT much interest this side of the Pacific Ocean mainly due to hard availability on the US MainLand as well as general understanding that it will soon be Officially sold in South Korea too . but as Summer started with South Korea exempt from all international release schedules AND more people becoming aware of this Wonder Gear, personal reselling started with much premium price added – usually a good 20~30% on top of original retail prices .

but because these are models originally intended for another country, Product Support is NOT available through Apple Korea, thus is on the same level as those Black Van Taxis parked on major tourist crossings in the Capital of Seoul – they await mostly Japanese and Chinese tourists with “any price they can ask for” – for it is one shadow zone which is still un-regulated in South Korea (gulp !).



[ but before all that : a Laymen’s Guide into different Apple iPad Models ]

1. Apple iPads models differ in how much recordable space they contain in GigaBytes (16GB – 32 GB – 64GB),
2. AND whether they use local WireLess WiFi to connect to the internet (WiFi models)
OR 3G borrowing data frequencies intending for roaming cellphones (3G models).

if you intend to use iPad mostly at home OR office where some sort of WireLess Router is already in place probably :
you should purchase the WiFi-only models,
but if you need constant internet connection even on the road,
then the more expensive 3G (although this won’t be nearly as fast as your WiFi at home OR office)

size-wise, 32GB would be ample for general use or normal citizens .
while Globally WiFi 32GB is the most popular model, hence would resell quickly,
with advanced 3G buyers opting for top-of-the-line 64GB .



[ Apple iPad UnOfficial Selling Price in South Korea ]

tourists or even returning expatriates may have unaware of this sudden trend, but a bulk of Summer vacationers as well as returning Korean-Americans seeking part-time jobs have been repaid a large portion of their travelling fees from personal sale of Apple iPad into South Korea in 2010 .

Official US Price : WiFi 16GB $500 / 32GB $600 / 64GB 700 / 3G 16GB $630 / 32GB $730 / 64GB $830
going Korean sale : WiFi 16GB W800,000 / 32GB W1,000,000 / 64GB W 1,150,000 /
3G 16GB W1,000,000 / 32GB W1,200,000 / 64GB W1,350,000

prices are aproximate but one can make a nifty $150 ~ $300 off a single Apple iPad by hand-carrying it into South Korea .  think of bringing several on one trip and you can imagine a quick profit .

above are sealed, brand new models . if you are thinking of selling your used one in South Korea, you still can get $50 ~$150 above what you paid for in the States, as long as it is in as-new condition . Korean living standards are high in the Millennium, so better fix especially any outer dents before contemplating here . that is why Korean users are obsessive in sticking on LCD screens AND fitting cases for the recent full-LCD cell phones, digital cameras as well as iPads now .



[ Custom Duties for Import into South Korea AND Domestic Tax for Use Within ]

read my updates on early news of Apple iPad’s Global release and then on early ban into South Korea making you a felon if you bring one in !

as law is a swinging pendulum in the Korean Penninsula : this initial legality has relaxed over the Summer and now you are allowed to bring ONE iPad in for personal – and you won’t pay tax IF it is opened . if un-opened AND sending via mail or package, nomatter whether you use expedited USPS, UPS, DHL, EMS or any other international courrier services : you will definitely have to pay tax IF the sender has declared it, however if NOT : this again like any other developed country, is at the mercy of the attending inspector at the time .

at least you won’t have to pay Import Tax which I state here as Custom Duties for clarification between Domestic Tax, following WTO World Trade Organization Agreement on Computer Laptops . however you will have to pay Korean Consumer Tax of 10%. Korean Customs are well aware of Apple iPad prices so no profit in stating otherwise on the declaration sheet .

all incoming luggage including checked-in baggage AND hand-carry items are scanned at Korean airports . however customs will attach a lock ribbon on your handle at the scan-belt only on dangerous material such as knives . and as you pass the customs official they will stop you on their well-experienced profiling rule which really depends on many factors at the time .

if tax is implemented on mail-in packages :

  • if sent via Post Office : they will post you a mail notice of their bank account for you to make the transfer,
  • if sent via courrier service : the courrier company will pay it for you at the airport, then you re-emburse to the delivery man, usually on tax rates lower than W100,000 ~ 200,000.



[ import Routes of Apple iPad into South Korea ]

as of Summer 2010 most of Apple iPads originate in the States, with Korean resellers based in lower tax zones such as Oregon applying a slightly lower rate . but due to geographical proximity, a noticeable say, 10~20% come from Japan (major Port city of Busan/Pusan used to have the earliest models in the old heydays of earlier digital cameras counting up to the dawn of the Millennium).

one point of note is that Japanese 3G models are locked into use SoftBank Telecommunications but is unlocked for use OUTSIDE Japan .
also people are stating to bring in iPads from Hong Kong where they just started to sell from end of July .

being a nation of massive population dwelling in a small land-mass, residence as well as workplace in South Korea is closely knit into much concentrated geographical areas . and since the Millennium buildings have gone high up in floors into high-rises (with prices to match). this enables all to be linked in fibre optic cables allowing common usage of the fastest internet connection on Planet Earth . so virtually all sales of new iPads from abroad as well as resale of used items are done on-Line . and in case of machines with full-LCD, like the iPad people contact on the .Net, then to make the actual exchange off-line, meeting usually at a subway station . search places can be largely divided into two kind of places, both too large a topic you would find AND updated in my longer-content dedicated ‘Pages’ above :

  • already popular mammoth websites where you buy AND resell mostly computers AND electronic products,
  • and large user communities divided into specific topics OR products where the latest news, user opinions AND resale is exchanged,


[ Availability of Apple iPads Abroad ]

North America (sold since April but usually Sold-Out) : Best Buy is a popular place for travelers to pick one or more up for import into Korea – to call first .


Japan (sold since end of May but have to reserve on popular mid-WiFi models) – higher 3G models may be available BUT may have to wail more-or-less ONE Week after reservation .

  • giant electronic discount chains such as Yodobashi AND Big Camera require Japanese Citizen ID,
  • SofMap computer chain stores require PassPorts, and their Omote Sando Branch in trendy Harajuku(Tokyo West), boast the most availability in Tokyo as of mid-Summer (and if NOT available : in 2~3 days),
  • where-as Apple Store Chains require only an eMail address when reserving, and it seems Osaka has better chance of availability than Tokyo or even Fukuoka in the Southern island of Kyushu -_-

ofcourse you can yonder onto the most glamorous electronics district in the whole-wide World : Akihabara (Tokyo East), where they will sell you even the popular WiFi 32GB models on-the-spot .. BUT +Y10,000 on top as Premium !


and ofcourse you could have gotten an Apple iPad or, anything else for that matter in Hong Kong – the Western ‘hub’ in the Orient, BUT again with an unlisted, unlimited Premium more expensive than Japan above . but now since Apple has begun to sell Officially since the end of July you can check at the numerous sellers both on Hong Kong island as well as Kowloon MainLand . local buyers site a hit-and-miss outcome the past week – meaning you can find a store which will have one available with ample legwork . understandable, for Hong Kong has a varied sales route as well as the fact that many, many stores had the unofficial models on sale for a while now .



[ Electromagnetic Certification in South Korea for 3G Models ]

because Apple iPad is NOT officially imported to be sold in South Korea yet : you have to personally get an Electromagnetic Certificate for use within South Korea *ONLY applies to 3G models . and if you re-sell it, the new buyer will have to get his/her own again from scratch – NO why-the-heck OR WHAT-IF’s .. this is the Law .

this including Apple’s Localization service has been the catalyst for the Korean Government to be able to delay as much as they possibly can the influx of these Wonder-Machines into the once : Land of the Morning Calm .. for now we know why SamSung and their Conglomerate Groups may have lobbied so hard . a mere year-and-a-half after the whole Asian hype of ‘Boys Over Flowers’ AND ‘Kim Yuna’ Haptic cell phones which cost at the time well over W500,000 .. now they re-sell for roughly W100,000 AND barely are heard in news and gossip, for the current issue is Nexus One OR iPhone 4 ?!

you can do this yourself : Electromagnetic Certificate issuers are mostly dispersed an hours’ drive South of the Capital of South so you can either send it in OR go there yourself . price is W300,000 and they will keep your iPad for less than 3 days .

after this you take the Certificate and have to visit a Telecommunications Branch who will give you a SIM card or on-Line :

this is via KTF . but there was a loopwhole last month for SKT Telecommunications where you DID NOT have to get a Electromagnetic Certificate to sign up for their 3G mobile services . this has been now closed since last week and you WILL need to get your Electromagnetic Certificate whether you choose to sign up for KTF or SKT . (KTF is now KT after the merger, but I still insist to use it here for complications between KTF – the mobile Telecommunications company AND KT – the local telephone company)



[ incompatible KeyBoards AND Electric Plugs ]

the well-informed may question TWO issues aside from product support when trying to use foreign laptop / notebook / netbooks in Korea . yep, the KeyBoard layout is different – well, sort-of, for the English keys are still there but Korean alphabet doubling for most major central keys with varying layout for surrounding keys, AND electric plugs .

earlier adopters in Spring mostly used this for surfing AND multimedia but current users in the Summer have near-full language capability thanks to independent developers who have devised Korean keyboards . a handful of versions exits, where earlier ones needed to type in Korean then copy-and-paste into a webpage or document . the latter ones have internet browser built-in . and the latest one just out last weekend inputs Korean on-the-fly on any webpage or document,

( August 16th evening update : hence on the eve of Apple iPhone 4 early reservation, Korean keyboard for Apple iPad WITH visual letter keys intact, has been completed – let us remember this utterly sacred moment that has now changed the history of Techno Korea in the Millennium )

although missing are actual Korean alphabet to ON the keys . one joker has even designed a print-out photo of a Korean keyboard to lay on TOP of the LCD screen for those who have NOT memorized Korean key layouts 😉

as for electric plugs this one’s easy for Apple iPad cords double as USB cable in the middle . so for mobility, you would want to evade those countries that use larger, bulkier plugs such as China and Australia ?



[ Product Support for Apple iPad in South Korea ]

nope, there is NO product support for Apple iPad in South Korea as of mid-August 2010 .
there are less than a handful of places announcing as unofficial repairers, but news from those have inquired OR tried it reveal prices NOT worth the adventure . so it is best to send it back to the country where you bought it from .

two grey areas in Apple iPad product support would be /after/ it becomes officially available in South Korea : whether you will be able to get product support for your iPad bought at a Duty-Free Store abroad AND if will be eligible for ones bought-in prior to Korean official release . traditionally, Korean counterparts of major foreign makers such as Sony has made a tough stand for those bought abroad – understandable for a still-protectionist nation .


but I should add that several reboot AND resetting procedures exit because so many users have tried and got stuck in the midst of “jail-breaking” the celebrated device . so it is in the rare except in the case that you physically break the front LCD panel that you will need to really fix your Apple iPad .

you’re mumbling : OK, what have I missed here ? Apple iPad being a fragile full-LCD device .. ain’t it insane to buy one in a land where they have NO product support ???

the answer lies in this Wonderful situation : you are able to even barely afford an Apple iPad, and you are handed one right in front of you with the person showing you all the Glamorous things it can do . and as a human being living smack in the middle of the modern IT-Land, I doubt you will have the sanity to question yourself : WHAT to do IF this incredible machine breaks at any given time here-after ..



[ When will Apple iPad Officially Land in South Korea ?]

KT has announced vaguely they will introduce “new tablet PC’s” on the latter half of this year 2010 . then many, many rumours including those who atest to have gotten inside information from drunk KT officials over late-night lobby sessions – which is common in Asian business . but it is widely accepted among Korean fan-groups that it will happen between September-October timeframe .



( to be continued )

although NOT released in South Korea yet, I consider this post belated since it is in use among many local electronic manias, especially Summmer vacation Season a time when a lot of travel comes and goes between already released countries and Korea . so I even thought of posting even later but all this is to let you know that Apple iPad is a machine with such an evolving state in South Korea, mainly because it is NOT legally NOR officially accepted here BUT is widely known AND somewhat already in use . so any information laid out here may make a sudden turn next week //



[ update end of August ]

as early Korean Apple iPad fans’ concensus on Official Korean release of the Wonder machine closes-in on October, smuggled-in Apple iPads’ going rate both of new AND used are starting to drop considerably . this due to KT’s (Korea Telecom – one of three major mobile carriers in South Korea) /hinted/ Official Korean release of “mobile tablets” (yeah right, CANNOT just spell-out i.P.a.d. for who knows : competitor SKT {SK Telecom} might side-catch the revel contract any time) to be 3rd or 4th Quarter of 2010 .

for a guide-line : an Apple iPad 32G WiFi Only NEW lowest price now is W920,000
and used, in good condition would be W850,000
while 2 or 3 noticeable surface scratch would boggle the price down to even W780,000

merely 40 years ago, the Korean Penninsula was a barren land with remnants of the (North vs. South) Korean War reminded in every corner of the streets . America was saviour and rations from U.S. bases exchanged as prestigious gifts during customary holidays . this changed slowly as dictatorial regimes placed harsh working order AND ensuing KangNam Real Estate Boom over 1980 South of the Han River in the Capital of Seoul ushered unprecedented profits and the Olympics of 1988 giving World-wide access AND recognition . over the Millennium, South Korea HAS a middle class now, living clean, comfortable lives .

thus Koreans, moreover younger consumers in the student to first-job range are extremely sentive of any surface scratch or dents on IT machines, almost to the tune of dead pixels which haunted the new digital camera AND LCD monitor buyer a decade ago (which then, due to its early technology was frequently sited).

if you DO own a smuggled (OK, legally or casually brought-in) Apple iPad in South Korea : early September would be a good time to sell . for once Official Korean release is announced : prices would flaunder considering bleak chances of getting product support from Apple Korea – especially higher 3G models .



– Korea Tech BLog, August 2010 –

inter-related links :
Apple Support Centers in South Korea,
Largest Apple Store in Korea Open in Seoul,
Apple iPhone Launch in Korea – available Models, Versions and Price to us KT,
Apple iPhone 4 Official Release in South Korea,