...is still a phone, but used to mean that it was a pain in the ass to register or change service, or even buy all the cool models of phones, which never seem to be available as a pre-paid card option.
But I did it.
And now, after having done it, I see that things have changed.
I got a new phone, baby!
I finally took the afternoon off to do what I thought would be the distressingly difficult task of changing my cellphone and registering it to my own name.
Well, it was distressingly difficult, but only because my phone number still belonged to Fulbright and was part of a block of names registered under a corporate account and there needed to be confirmations, red official stamps, and calls to both SK and KTF to disentangle myself from Fulbright's registration with KTF and move it over to KTF.
See, the registering the phone in my name part, though – that's easy now. I've known for years that it was officially possible and that there were forms to fill out, but I also knew that most neighborhood phone stores either A) didn't know the process nor had the special forms, nor B) particularly wanted to do it, so always simply said, "No! It's not possible." When in fact, it was.
Now, that issue's officially dead.
FOREIGNERS CAN NOW EASILY OFFICIALLY REGISTER A PHONE UNDER THEIR OWN NAMES WITHOUT ANY SPECIAL FORMS, CO-SIGNERS, OR OTHE BULLSHIT. AT LEAST WITH SK.
I had gone to SK's web page and printed up the policy that affected foreigners, ready to dig my heels into the dirt and get that phone registered by force, but he actually had the same sheet under a piece of glass on his desk:
You can blow it up REAL big to read the details by clicking on the picture. In short, though, SK has implemented what I'd been yelling about for years – if it's true that the reason foreigners weren't allowed to register cellphones in their own names because too many of them skipped the country without paying their last bills, then why not simply make us foreign bail jumper types pay a deposit? I always thought that would be fair – something like a couple hundred bucks, which would start being depleted after you were perhaps a couple months late with the bills. Then, when it runs down, the company cuts it off.
Well, that's pretty much what SK did, praise the Lord. So, the standard deposit is 200,000 won, but varies according to visa status. See up there, where the middle column is, that affects most work and other visas many foreigners are on? E-2 and F-1 are part of that group. You pay 200,000 won for deposit.
But to my surprise (and delight to my wallet), since I'm now on an F-4, I don't pay anything. Also, if you've got an F-2 (from marrying a Korean citizen), you're off the hook, too! No deposit! Now this is one time when being a halfsie actually has a concrete benefit! Guess all that mixing of Korean blood means we're more reliable or something. The people who really need it though, are the A-class people, and the diplomatic visas: since they don't get issued a foreigner's registration card, they really could use the break – they don't have to pay a deposit, either.
Anyway, I think it's fair to pay a deposit, and it's about damn time – denying the ability to get a cellphone when you can open a bank account, rent an apartment, or get a driver's license at the drop of a hat in Korea didn't seem to make much sense.
I don't know if KTF is still requiring a Korean credit card (which is basically the most ludicrous discriminatory hoop to be made to jump and the reason I've been mooching under Fulbright's name for the past 5 years), but if they are, I certainly hope they lose as much business as possible. And I don't particularly feel like looking into it here, and will just leave it at what I know, since I don't have too much love for KTF anymore, anyway. I'll just leave it at this – they were always the most stringent about making it impossible to register phones in their own names, and I hope that everyone goes to get SK service. Nyah, KTF!
Anyway, this guy was the hardest working guy in the phone business that day, because it took 3 hours to navigate my KTF number out of Fulbright's to SK, all while registering other people's phones and answer the questions of students and an elderly couple.
Actually, I can't change the name on the account just this moment because I moved the number (which essentially made a $500 phone nearly free) and I have to keep the account for 3 months; so the switch of service requires a 3-month use period, at which point I can change the name, which is just going to require one last thing from Fulbright and that's it.
But if you are a foreigner registering from scratch, you'd just walk in the store to do it, bringing along your passport, foreigner's registration card, and perhaps bank passbook; my problem was that we were changing numbers AND owners, with the latter being the sticky part that made the former switch a bit annoying when combined with their ongoing promotion to encourage users to switch carriers.
Whew! A lotta talk there. Lemme just show you what the old phone looked like, and how much I had pushed that baby to the end:
It was time, right? Look at the front, dudes! All the coins in my pocket were doing some serious erosion action on my phone. Reminder to self: put coins in the wallet pocket.
And I always hated the fat clamshells, enduring the phones getting fatter and heavier for years before the call of the Motorola RAZR started slimming things down. Here's the phone I have now:
Nice, baby. Thin. I never liked clamshells, but it's thin. And this is also called the "효자폰", or the phone that good kids buy for their elderly parents, since the phone is a bit wider than most, and the keys are spread out farther apart. This is good for me since I have big, American hands. And you know what they say about guys with big hands...they need big phones. No teeny, tiny slide action for me – I hate double-mashing keys when I type text messages.
It's like a RAZR, but Samsung. I am used to Anycall's hangul system, and I think it's the most logical, with the Korean being written sort of like the logic you'd use to write it. I can burn off a Korean text message in record time – one-handed – with Samsung's system.
And Anycalls are known to be strong, with my phone having withstood being thrown, dropped, sat on, doused with water, and nearly everything that you could but shouldn't do to a piece of electronic equipment. Anycall is my brand. Well, until I can get my hand on an iPhone.
And the logic of the menus and system is far better than before: I can now save my text messages separately (my previous phone just had room for 100, no save function, and when the slots filled up, it just stopped accepting texts!); when a phone call comes in, I have the option in the men to send a text message back; the only thing I complain about is that there's no electronic dictionary on this particular model, and that in English mode, it defaults to replying in English text messages, which my previous phone didn't do. I guess that's actually a logical improvement, but it's inconvenient for me.
I am very happy and impressed with my phone, as well as SK's service.
And I'm happy to report (one more time) that the age of foreigners not being able to register phones in their names is OVER. I did it, and the guy had the policy straight in my dinky neighborhood SK office, so other places have gotta know. If they tell you otherwise, they either didn't get the memo, or are just too pressed to be bothered with your foreign ass at that moment.
You could also print out the picture above and show them, but if the latter was the case, they're not gonna like you much.