I just went to get an iPhone. I failed. Here's what the KTF people told me.
Since I am an F-status visa holder (meaning that I have Korean "blood" or am presently legally married to someone with said blood), I can get the iPhone. Since it's a two-year service contract, I guess foreigners who are mixing or presently holding Korean genes are somehow more trustworthy than other foreigners. Of course, I couldn't actually get the phone because my two-year F-4 visa is in the middle of its valid period, meaning that in order to get a cellphone, I'll have to go down to immigration and update my visa well before it expires in 2010. I'm looking forward to that conversation: "Why are you coming so early?" Answer: "So I can register a cellphone."
However, if you are a less trustworthy foreigner, say on an E-2 teaching visa, you have to have a Korean credit card. Now, if the girl at the bank thinks you're handsome, or your hagwon is a big company that happens to have a relationship with a bank, or you work for a university, you can probably get one. If, however, you are a part-timer like me who has never been sponsored by a hagwon, you can't get one. Even if I make 2-3 times what a hagwon teacher makes, and have been for several years, it doesn't matter. Foreigners can't build credit here. I've been a KEB customers since 1994, back when they REQUIRED a stamp with Chinese characters to open a bank account. They still won't offer me one. My friend who's been in-country for two months has a KEB credit card because he works for a hagwon. Clearly, I am a higher risk.
In any case, the credit card requirement is arbitrary because the ability to GET a credit is arbitrary. And KTF has always been the hardest-ass about foreigners registering their phones. They quote the tired old excuse, "Well, there's no way to guarantee foreigners won't run off without paying their bills." BULLSHIT. I think that's an old meme that I've been hearing since the latter days of the pager era, when many foreigners DID seem to leave without paying their final bills, mostly because the idiot companies at the time made it easy to do so. But that line is bullshit. Concerned foreigners will take off without paying? MAKE THEM PAY A DEPOSIT, idiots.
It's been several years since SK solved that problem, which enabled me to be a big, grown, human being and go buy a cellphone all by myself. That excuse is tired, and I think it's bullshit. KTF is just too lazy to change its systems, even if they are part of a discriminatory set of practices against foreigners.
I wonder if Apple knows just how hard KTF makes it for non-Korean residents of this country to buy its product. Personally, I think the process racist as a mofo, because 1) the requirements do nothing more than unnecessarily against a particular group, because 2) the requirements in question do not even accomplish the goal they were created for.
What's the difference between an F-4 visa holder and an E-2? Well, and F-4 person is less tied down and able to freely move from employer to employer at will, like a Korean. The residency visa is not tied to being sponsored by your employer. Technically, a less trustworthy group. So why isn't a Korean credit card required? I could get an iPhone, rack up 4 months of bills, then fly the coup. No one's getting their money if I move to Peru.
But an E-2 visa holder? Need a credit card. Which means that whether you have the ability to get one is just sheer blind luck. So, what to do? Require a deposit and if the bills racked up exceed what's in the deposit, cut their shit off. That's what SK did.
And that why KTF sucks my balls. And so does Apple Korea for not pushing them on that issue.
And as a member of the Presidential Commission on Nation Branding, I'm taking this particular one to our first meeting in February, and I'm going to let KTF HAVE IT as a company that is NOT internationally-minded, NOT global in thinking, and actively HURTING "Brand Korea" because of these myopic and borderline-racist practices.
And I wonder if, according to the newer interpretation of relevant laws, this practice might not even be illegal.
See, I'm gonna go to immigration and update my residency. Then, I'll get an iPhone. But being of Korean blood doesn't make me magically more reliable than other foreigners. Nor should any requirement disproportionally affect a single group of people in this country when a simple alteration in policy would solve the problem of security while offering foreigners fair and equal access to products and services here.
And SK already solved this problem. KTF -- what the fucksake is wrong with you? Just too lazy to change? Or just don't give a shit?
Apple Korea -- why are you working with a company that treats non-Koreans so shittily?
Disappointment, all around.
Even the guy at the counter was like, "Yeah, I think this is totally bogus. It's ridiculous, right?"
Out of the several in the crowd of people that were all waiting for registration, I went home empty-handed.
Thanks, KTF and Apple Korea!