No joy for foreign mobile phones

Written by admin on June 20, 2009 – 2:13 pm -


UPDATE : I wrote this article in 2009 and I am no longer living in Seoul, South Korea. Please check other sites for more current info regarding using a foreign 3G phone in the ROK.

You might be wondering why you’re looking at a pretty old Nokia E61. Well I’m not here to do a review on it, in fact I’ve lost all interest in smartphones for now. Why? Because most of Korea’s offerings in the smartphone market are Windows Mobile 6. Being a Mac fan, Windows would be a last choice for me but its a given that you can’t change the language on a WM6 device short of reflashing the ROM, which is something I’m not prepared to do, especially after shelling out close to KWN800,000 for an Xperia or T-Omnia.

So what options are left for us waegook gadget freaks? Nothing much… I tried bringing my trusty 3 year old Nokia E61 to an SKT outlet. I had my Globe Prepaid SIM in there and had selected SKT as my network, I did this to show that rep that my E61 was a 3G (WCDMA) phone and it worked on their network, albeit it was on roaming. I inquired wether it was possible for me to just buy a sim card and have it work on my phone. The rep took my phone and examined the model number and after a few minutes of staring blankly at it said that it was not possible, unless Nokia Korea started selling it locally.

Now that completely sucks!!! Especially since the iPhone 3G or 3GS won’t be sold here in the near future.

I learned that SKT and KTF lock other phones out of the network by their IMEI numbers. The IMEI is sort of a serial number that is unique to your mobile. If your phone’s IMEI is not in SKT or KTF’s database then there is no way your phone can get on the network with a local SIM card.

I’m going to start venting here since this has been a long time frustration for me over the past 10 years. When South Korea decided to pick WCDMA as its 3G standard I was stoked because I thought I finally would have choices when it comes to a true smartphone. Seems like I was mistaken.

UPDATE : Don’t hold your breath for the iPhone 3G or 3GS, it ain’t coming to Korea in the near future, and you thought WIPI was a stumbling block, it seems like one of the bone of contentions in the distribution of content. Apple has their iTunes Music Store and it seems that KTF want their own brand of App store, I don’t think Apple is going to let that happen. Oh what the he@#$ that’s what I get for living in the hermit kingdom.

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