As a foreign resident living in Korea, getting a cell phone can be quite a pain. But with the iPhone finally having arrived in Korea a little over a month ago, I've decided to get one despite the hassle. I got mine at the Frisbee shop in Daejeon, where they were quite helpful despite the hassle due to my being a foreigner. I'm glad that I didn't have to live through a horror story as some others seem to have suffered.
An unfortunate thing is that it's official policy by the telecom company KT to not subsidize the iPhone much unless you're an F-2, F-4, or F-5 visa holder. Even if you hold the appropriate visas, you need to have at least 2 years left in your residency period to get the 24-month contract, which gets the most subsidy. Considering that until last year one had to renew the visa every 2 years (it's 3 years now), it's sort of ridiculous, not to mention people who are in the middle of their residency period and can't renew it (renewals can be done only two months before the expiration). But at least there is no reason at all to disallow purchase of the iPhone outright without a years-long contract (any cell phone store that says otherwise doesn't know what they're talking about).
This is what the official support site says concerning iPhones for foreign residents in Korea, which basically says what I said above:
- 외국인도 아이폰 이용이 가능한가요?
네, 외국인도 아이폰 개통이 가능합니다. 단, 체류코드가 F2, F4, F5일 경우에는 할부 개통이 가능하나 그외 외국인일 경우에는 기본형 현금만 가입 가능합니다.
외국인 아이폰 개통관련 체류코드 내용 F2, F4, F5 기본형(현금/할부), i형(할부) 가입가능
- 체류기간이 24개월 이상이어야 함
기타 외국인 기본형 현금만 가입가능 공통사항 약정개월은 체류기간 내에서만 선택 가능
- 체류기간이 3개월~18개월 미만은 12개월 약정만 선택가능
- 체류기간이 3개월 미만 남은 경우 후불가입 불가 (선불만 가능)
There's an even more unfortunate thing: the support site for the telecom company where I can check my cell phone account status doesn't work well with a Mac. This is just another example of the widespread brokenness of websites in Korea, but it's especially ironic in that one reason I got an iPhone is that I'm a big Apple user.
Anyways, now that I have an iPhone, I expect to be a happy cell phone user (as long as I don't have to go through any bureaucratic snafu with the telecom company). Who knows? Maybe I'll end up having more phone conversations with others than I ever expected I could. I do expect to take advantage of the camera and almost always available Internet connectivity.