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iPhone 3G(s) set for release in Korea
There have been a number of updates about the iPhone in Korea since I last posted here, but today I saw on Apple’s page that they’ve added an iPhone page to their Korean site. I decided to ignore most of the rumors until now.
Although the Korean iPhone site only allows you to sign up your email address for updates once it is available, this is concrete confirmation that the iPhone is coming to Korea.
Gmarket has also added the iPhone 3G (or 3GS?) to its site, which you can see here. Looks like the plans are pretty pricey (scroll down). It says here that the iPhone will be available on November 28th. My Korean isn’t that good, but it also looks like the data will be pretty limited, and the plans ranging from 35,000 won (about $30 Canadian) to 95,000 won (about $90 Canadian) per month.
Now the question is… can I get my iPhone ‘allowed for use’ here? I’ll try sometime in December. Here’s hoping.
Screen shot 2009-09-24 at 12.48.57 PM
iPhone Receives Governmental Exemption to Rule, Approved for Sale in South Korea
The Wall Street Journal just published an article about the South Korean government’s approval of the iPhone’s sale in Korea. Finally.
This opens a whole new world of mobile ability to Koreans, since Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry haven’t been readily available here. Even if you had an iPhone 3G, you can’t use it on Korean networks, due to IMEI restrictions. It seems that only Korean phones are whitelisted here.
Apparently KT has announced that they’ll launch the iPhone here as early as November, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I think that we’ll see the iPhone here in Korea when it is revised again, sometime next June.
Screen shot 2009-09-20 at 10.38.40 PM
Government Loopholes Further Delaying Korean iPhone Launch
I’ve just read an article on the Korea Times website about how the Korean government has not yet approved the iPhone because of its location abilities. In short, KCC commissioners are debating whether Apple has to have a server in Korea that handles its iPhone location information. It is apparently concerned that there would be a risk to the Korean people using the phones, because the location data would be sent to a foreign server:
“Smart phones, which provide Web browsing and multimedia features atop of voice, are like personal computers, so there is no way to monitor every foreign Web site the users will log onto,” a KCC official said.
“However, when a mobile operator is releasing a foreign-made handset that could wire the information of Koreans to foreign servers, we need to look into the possible risks.”
The article goes on to detail how Apple itself does not handle this information, but relies on a company called Skyhook to relay this information to Google for the Maps application on the iPhone.
What I don’t understand is how the iPod touch has location services using Skyhook’s WiFi location detection technology, but it hasn’t had to leap through any government loopholes.
KT to Carry iPhone in South Korea
August 8, 2009
KT confirmed today that they will carry the iPhone in South Korea. There have been rumors about this in the past, but it was confirmed by Kim Yeon Hak (김연학) in a conference call:
Yeon-hak, Kim, KT, CFO, said in the conference call on Friday, “Apple iPhone will be in our smartphone line-up. [We expect that the] iPhone will help to expand the smartphone market and will contribute to increasing the ARPU” (average revenue per user).


However, Kim declined to elaborate with detailed information, including the exact release date.

So there it is. Confirmation of the iPhone in Korea. It’s still up for debate whether the telecom companies here will cripple the iPhone’s WiFi capabilities, and if they will offer Apple’s App Store, or their own. Let’s see what happens.

Could it be?

Could it be?

I’ve decided to move all iPhone-related news here. No use in cluttering up my front page with stuff that not many people care about.

July 15, 2009

More news from The Korea Times. This article talks about the rumors that are still going around about KT and SKT vying to be the carrier for the iPhone once it arrives here. Neither company will comment, likely because they don’t want to upset Apple, a company which is notoriously secretive in everything they do.

IF the iPhone does arrive in Korea, it will take the entire mobile communications market by storm. The iPhone has built-in WiFi, and Korean mobile carriers currently won’t allow any phone to access the internet via WiFi because of lost revenue. They make a lot more money charging people for internet access, rather than them accessing the internet on an open wireless network. I strongly doubt that Apple will cripple the iPhone’s WiFi capabilities to appease the Korean carriers. So, if the iPhone has  WiFi, I am sure that the other mobile carriers will follow suit, and allow their phones to have WiFi internet access.

In fact, companies like Samsung and LG make phones that have WiFi built-in, but they leave this feature crippled in Korea.

Just as Apple has changed the computer world by creating the first GUI (graphical user interface)-based operating system, they will likely reshape the Korean mobile market once the iPhone lands here. If only I could be a part of such a visionary company that consistently puts forth such great innovation… Apple seems to change the world of everything it touches.

Fingers still crossed that I can use my existing iPhone 3G here… 🙂

Article here.

June 23, 2009

Looks like the Korea Times has picked up on the iPhone rumors here in Korea.

This article explains how it costs about 40,000 won (about $35) to browse a news site for an hour. Wow. It also explains how content on most mobiles here is limited to Naver, which is Korea’s response to Google.

It’s no wonder that Korea is dragging its feet in implementing the iPhone here. The major phone companies stand to lose a lot of revenue from this. They will also have to change the way that their customers access the internet on their devices. The iPhone isn’t limited to any one online portal for internet access. I haven’t used many Korean phones on the internet, but with the iPhone, you can go ahead and point the browser at any web page, and you’re there. It fully renders the page the same way that a desktop web browser would. Some sites are specifically formatted for the iPhone’s screen, like CBC’s mobile site

It also seems that the phone manufacturers here have disabled WiFi connectivity on their phones, forcing users to pay for internet access on their devices. Since the iPhone (and iPod touch) can access any wireless network, this would present a pretty good challenge to their pricing and revenue models.

The iPod touch has been very popular in Korea, and I see people with them all over the place. I think that this is popular here for a few reasons:

1) The iPod touch can access the internet wherever there is an open WiFi hotspot (pretty much anywhere in Seoul)

2) Apple’s App Store has over 50,000 applications available, many for free, which include games, translation tools, dictionaries, you name it

3) Apple products are seen as prestigious here

4) The ease of use of Apple’s touch-screen graphical user interface (GUI) makes the iPod touch a very powerful media player.

According to the Korea Times article, KT will have its own version of the App store. This frightens me for a few reasons. First, people will be limited to only KT-approved applications, which will very likely not include Skype, which allows for free phone calls over a data (WiFi or 3G) connection. Any kind of limitation on such an awesome device is really a shame. Could Korea force Apple to design its own Korea-based operating system, in order to enforce the restrictions on App Store selections?

Anyway, this is all up for debate, and may never actually happen. We’ll just have to wait and see.

June 19, 2009

I came across an interesting news article detailing how KT may be introducing the iPhone 3G or 3GS to Korea. Check it out here.

I am still really skeptical about this, because apparently the existing smartphones in Korea don’t allow for free WiFi access. The iPhone can connect to any WiFi network to browse the web, when the user doesn’t want to use the cell network connection.

Also, I doubt the source for the news article, since I haven’t heard of this website until I read this article. They say that it will be coming in July, with a price of 100,000 Korean won. That’s about $90 Canadian or so.

If this is true, this will no doubt give the major players in the Korean smartphone game a huge run for their money. I think this is a good thing though, because strong competition causes the whole market to innovate and create better products.

The iPhone has already had a huge impact on the smartphone market. Its intuitive interface has inspired great devices such as the Palm Pre and the Nokia N95.

The main obstacle for iPhone competitors is Apple’s App Store, which has over 50,000 applications, which have been downloaded over 1,000,000,000 times in about 10 months. Compare that to Palm’s app store, which has about 50 apps.

Anyway, I hope to see the iPhone in Korea. It will surely loosen the death grip that the national phone companies have on the mobile network here in Korea.



  1. Not too concerned with getting my iphone to work here. I DID end up bringing it, never use it except for in the classroom. The kids freak when they see that you have an “ipod touch” and listen to music on it. I keep it on when their doing their seat work. Then I have to explain it’s actually a phone. It’s hilarious.

    • Hi Steph
      So your telling me that your iPhone does work in South Korea? So many people have informed me that my Australian iphone 3G will not work because South Korea operates on a different network. So confused, I just don’t know whether to take it with me or not?

        • mikejrisi
        • Posted November 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm
        • Permalink

        The iPhone does work in Korea, with HUGE roaming charges from your home carrier. For me it was about 3,000 won per minute I believe.

        I have confirmed with a few sources that you will need to pay about 500,000 won to have your iPhone ‘allowed’ to work here.

        If I were you, I’d bring the iPhone just in case. The iPhone itself will likely have a hefty premium, so the phone itself will likely cost something close to the KCC activation fee.

        It will still function as an iPod touch while you’re not using it as a phone, of course.

  2. I’m sure you would like to use your iPhone in Korea, but if you have an iPhone already, and were planning to use it when Korea gets the iPhone, officially, you cannot. In order to use your OWN iPhone that was bought outside of Korea, you will need to spend 350,000 – 500,000 won to get a KCC (Korea’s FCC) certificate, since the iPhone is foreign. Consider it a non-Korean cellphone tax. And that takes 2-4 weeks.

    So, if you are actually planning to attempt this as a non-native Korean person, good luck.I suggest getting another Korean-carrier iPhone when “SHOW” releases it in late November or early December. Just wanted to inform you of Korea’s preposterous policy that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. Good day, kind sir.

  3. Hi,
    I’m an Australian university student studying Bachelor of Education – Primary/Special Education & I’m about to visit Seoul, South Korea with an exchange student from Cheong An.
    I have found your website very information and quite comforting. We may have an opportunity to teach english so that will be good experience.
    I’m assuming from your experience with your iPhone 3G that I am best to leave mine at home and rent a phone when I get there?

    Nicole Fielding

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