New iPhones met with long lines in South Korea

October 31, 2014
Rain couldn't stop Koreans from getting their iPhones. (Yonhap)

Rain couldn’t stop Koreans from getting their iPhones. (Yonhap)

By Bahk Eun-ji

Hundreds of people waited in long lines to get their hands on the latest iPhone models at some major outlets of mobile carriers and retail stores early Friday when Apple started to release the phones in Korea.

Won Kyung-hoon, 41, waited for more than two days in front of a sales outlet of LG Uplus in Seocho, southern Seoul, to become the first customer to receive an iPhone 6 from the mobile carrier.

“I have nothing to say except that I’m happy,” he told reporters after receiving the phone.

The Apple’s store, Frisbee in Myeongdong, central Seoul, had a long “iPhone line,” with hundreds of customers braving light rain and cold weather to buy an “unlocked” iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

The three mobile carriers, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus also competed to attract customers, holding events and offering differentiated services and diverse phone plans.

SK Telecom offers the 16G iPhone 6 for 789,800 won ($736) and the iPhone 6 Plus for 924,000 ($860) won.

KT offers a 250,000 won ($233) reduction as an incentive for users choosing a 129,000 won ($120) bill plan.

While LG Uplus provides a 246,050 won discount for those who choose a 120,000 won plan.

Lee Seung-lin, a civil servant in Seoul, said he joined the iPhone line at 6 a.m. and waited for more than five hours. He said he wanted to buy the unlocked iPhone 6 Plus because he doesn’t want to get a contract with the nation’s major mobile carriers.

“I’ll go with CJ Hellovision’s bill plan because it’s cheaper, and no requirement of a two-year contract,” Lee said.

CJ Hellovision is one of the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in Korea, offering cheaper bill plans for budget handsets.

Another customer who bought an iPhone 6 at Frisbee, surnamed Kim living in Seoul, said he also decided to go with CJ Hellovision’s bill plan.

“I really hate to sign two-year contracts with major telecommunications companies. Although I paid 980,000 won for this device today, I think this way is a lot cheaper,” Kim said.

Kim got to the store and joined the line at 7 a.m.

Jung Ji-hee, a 23-year-old college student living in Seoul, visited the LG Uplus store in Myeong-dong to receive the iPhone 6 she preordered a week ago.

Jung said she does not trust the service provided by MVNOS yet, because they have little experience compared to major mobile carriers.

“I chose LG Uplus because the price is the cheapest at 789,800 won. I liked it,” Jung said.

Kim Hyun-woo, a 27-year-old office worker, said he will choose KT for his iPhone 6.

“I don’t want to get bothered about bill plans and basically I don’t see a big difference among the telecom company’s bill plans and incentives,” Kim said. Kim has used the iPhone 5 with KT’s bill plan.

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