Dear Mr. Jobs,
I've been a die-hard Mac user since the days I went to a fancy high school that had a bank of Mac Pluses, to the present day, as my long wait for the iPhone in South Korea seemed to be coming to an end. I had to wait for what seemed like an eternity to wait for the barriers and regulations that kept iPhone out of the market to drop. And now, in what seems like an act of divine Providence, the iPhone is on sale at a dealer near me, EVERYWHERE.
Except that if you are non-Korean, you essentially can't have one.
The carrier you guys went with happens to be the one with the most archaic and unnecessary hoops to jump through for foreigners, as they essentially haven't changed their policies regarding foreign residents of this country one iota. The claim continues to be that registering foreigners is dangerous because we might skip town with unpaid bills; but other companies, SK being an example, have simply instituted a deposit system to solve the problem. I switched my service away from KTF precisely because of this -- I had managed to get a phone turned on in my name, but to add services, change plans, or buy a new phone is a NIGHTMARE if you are a non-Korean. With SK, it's as easy as pie.
Now, I'm back to having to deal with KTF because I want an iPhone, and even I am surprised at how NOTHING has changed. I happen to have an F-4 visa because my mother is Korean, and I am technically supposed to have a status completely the same as a Korean national; yet, KTF hasn't updated its systems to accept foreign ID numbers as per a government mandate, and each time I go back for a visit, a different and ridiculous reason is given as to why I can't be registered: foreigners "can't have" iPhones, my visa isn't a "real" foreigner's ID, the term of the 2-year service contract must be must be changed to match the length of my visa (a statement flatly refuted by Immigration), silliness ad infinitum.
And that's for the status of foreigners like myself who have "Korean blood" and are supposed to be have legal equality with Korean nationals. I can buy land, own large amounts of property, register businesses, engage in certain kinds of trade in ways that general foreigners cannot -- YET I CANNOT BUY AN IPHONE. The dominant feeling is that, after a while, KTF representatives just start making up reasons to not allow foreigners to register. It is simply THAT ridiculous, arbitrary, and unprofessional. The number of crazy of stories I could tell you are simply legion, especially for foreigners of non-Korean descent.
For them, it's mostly possible, sometimes easy. A major requirement is that you have a Korean credit card -- no mean feat for most, almost automatic for a few in that process, which is its own, separate story -- which in short, is a means to keep most foreigners from registering. But even still, even with a Korean credit card, you have to buy the iPhone up front and you still have to use pre-paid service, which is 4-5 times more expensive than normal service. This is what I was told by a KTF representative yesterday. Who knows if this is even true?
In the end, there are nearly ONE MILLION foreign residents in Korea (2% of the population) who face extreme levels of difficulty in purchasing your fine product. As a proud American and avid Apple consumer, I find it quite ironic that I can't even purchase a revolutionary product made in my own country. Well, I guess it is really no surprise, given how hostile this country has been to Apple products, from when the Apple reseller Elex Electronics crippled the Mac's launch into Korea by charging 3-4 times the list price here because they had a captive graphic design/printing market. KTF seems to be a company of the same, old-school Korean ilk -- do as little as possible for the sake of the consumer, while bilking them for all they are worth.
It is unfortunate that Apple, through no fault of its own, is teamed up with a similar company. Perhaps that's not enough to hurt iPhone sales in Korea (which I think are going to continue selling off the shelves and have 30% of the cellphone market in a year here for a variety of reasons), but this situation is creating a LOT of anger amongst the group of Apples most loyal fans and consumers -- the many, many foreigners here who tend to be not more than a few years out of college, bring their entire music collections on their iPods, and use Macs at a much higher rate than the general population. And we're loud. Because the situation is so blatantly ridiculous -- and some feel, even racist.
South Korea is a nation that is quickly adapting to its new, larger foreign population. Many companies have adapted to allow us access to the same goods and services that Korean nationals enjoy. I can now use many sites on the Korean Internet (as you likely know, the government has mandated a "real-name system" requirement for major sites), can buy movie tickets online, get a retail discount card, and even access the Holy Grail of buying a cellphone -- with every carrier except for KTF, that is.
I write this letter with the hope of informing Apple just how archaic, anti-foreigner, and backwards a company KTF is -- even by the standards of other KOREAN companies. And the great desire for your iPhone, combined with being forced to try and get it through KTF, is creating a growing outrage amongst a population of your most historically most loyal consumers in this country, who have often, like myself, been the staunchest and most vocal Apple/Mac advocates in this land of previously near-total domination of PC/Windows.
There are a LOT of angry people here, who are veritably seething because of this situation. I simply wanted to let you know just how bad things are and just how much anger is building because of KTF's foolish and stubborn policies.
If Apple can do anything to pressure into KTF to making iPhone ACTUALLY and PRACTICALLY available to foreigners (I'm sure they will counter with how TECHNICALLY, any foreigner can register our product), it would be much appreciated by many of your most die-hard fans and advocates here.