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Korea Removes Potential Roadblock for iPhone

Posted by: Ihlwan Moon on September 24, 2009

Korea has never been a priority for Apple when it introduced its innovative products in global markets. But a long delay in the sale of Apple’s iPhone in Korea has been due partly to the country’s restrictive regulations. The Korea Communications Commission on Sept. 23 acknowledged that the delay caused by the “strict application of domestic laws” could not only deprive Koreans of conveniences offered by the iPhone but also put a curb on promoting mobile Internet.

Until last year, both the iPhone and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry were shut out of Korea because of a requirement that all Web-enabled cellphones in the country must use locally-developed software called Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability, or WIPI. That rule was abolished in April and Research in Motion introduced that month BlackBerry Bold in Korea through SK Telecom, the country’s largest mobile carrier.

Another red tape for the iPhone was a rule that any company collecting location-related data for location-based services must seek approval from the Korean government. The requirement is in place on the ground that such services could infringe upon privacy. Apple has sought clarification about the rule, pointing out that its location-based services such as “FindMyiPhone” use a method making it impossible to identify users.

The Korean commission agreed on Sept. 23 that Apple’s location-based services are unlikely to encroach on privacy. It then allowed Apple to introduce the iPhone without seeking a permit for its location-based services on condition that local mobile carriers offering the iPhone will be responsible for any legal dispute arising from Apple’s location-based services.

KT, Korea’s number-two mobile service provider, says it is negotiating with Apple with an aim to introduce the iPhone in Korea as soon as possible. Apple and KT still need to agree on terms, particularly on the number of handsets and the amount of subsidies KT will offer to promote the iPhone, according to KT officials.

Reader Comments


September 24, 2009 9:18 AM

Amazing that an American company can't sell a mobile phone in Korea while the majority of cell phones here are from Korea. I can't wait till Americans wake up and realize Asian countries don't play on a level playing field. The Japanese protected their domestic market in the 70's and 80's and the rest seemed to learn from this. We have an open door policy on imports all the while Asian countries manipulate their import laws to keep foreigners out. And we wonder why nothings made in USA anymore. It's not that we're uncompetitive, it's currency manipulation (Japan in the early days and now China) to red tape. We need a gov't that goes tit for tat. No iphones in Korea, no Samsung in the US. We really need to be tougher on trade. Not put up barriers but one good turn deserves another. You trade with us, we trade with you.

John Devine

September 24, 2009 3:28 PM

I totally agree with the comments from Hhh.When I was stationed in Korea, all American products were out of reach for most Koreans because of import taxes.There was a hugh black market for American goods because of the poor quality of most Korean goods.Now that Korea has emerged they are flooding us with their goods but keeping out ours.The only thing they want is to be kept under our security umbrella.


September 24, 2009 3:51 PM

First of all, Apple manufactures everything in Taiwan, so your argument is m00t. Korean's are barring "American" phones from their market. Second of all, the American smartphone market is dominated by RIM and Apple, a Canadian company and an American one. The future of the North American cellphone market points at North America.

The other big players in the cellphone market are Samsung and Nokia. Of the two, only Samsung is Korean. Nokia is Swedish. No one is going out and buying Korean, Japanese, or Chinese cellphones.

The entire article is about how the Korean government admits that their regulations are forcing antiquated cellphones on the market. Basically, that means even Korean officials concede that Korean phones are obsolete. The welcoming of Apple shows the Koreans commitment to cutting edge technology that is not in Asia but in North America.


September 24, 2009 4:14 PM

I'm a CEO. Really I am. We don't care what you say.

Super-Chief Master CEO

September 24, 2009 7:49 PM

I'm a SCM-CEO. Really I am. We rein over CEO's and we don't care what CEO's think because they're too stupid to write down anything that makes sense.


September 24, 2009 10:57 PM


Where iphones are made is irrelevant. The competition is American and the profits come here not into Samsungs coffers. There's no secret to the barriers most countries put up to protect their big business but we're an open market. China's doing what Japan did 30 years ago, albeit in a different way, by keeping the value of their currency undervalued to support their exports.

"Koreans are barring "American" phones from their market"... that's what I said.

"Nokia is Swedish" Check your facts... Nokia is based in Espoo, Finland.

"No one is going out and buying Korean, Japanese or Chinese cellphones" Again wrong. "Korean Phone Makers to Gain 50% Market Share in the US" follow the link below.

The Korean gov't can say anything they want. I for one don't believe it. Acting naive is the oldest trick in the book.

Next time, please check your facts.


September 25, 2009 3:41 PM


Nokia a Finland based company, not Swedish.
Sounds like China is a much more open market than Korea is.


September 27, 2009 6:00 AM

korea hasnt allowed iphone to enter the korean market cuz the korean government is corrupt; samsung n other companies bribed the gov agencies n stuff. u cant really compare foreign policies n crap cuz dude, USA has the biggest market in the world n the best infrastructure for everything.

C. H. Ng

September 27, 2009 10:40 PM

@ Hhh,

There is no denying that you are right in every sense but then again you can deny that nothing in this world is fair & square.

For any developing country to compete with a developed one is like pitting a schoolboy soccer team against the might of a professional club like MU for example. That's why you get to see these trade barriers and / or so-called protection of their infant industries.

Of cos the developed countries can always retaliate with a tit-for-tat. But if they do, they will be always be deemed like bully boys in the eyes of the smaller & poorer nations. But then again you can say who cares..........!


September 29, 2009 11:12 PM

The American cell phone market has impeded cell phone technology for profit, why come out with the best technology when you can come out with basic tech first and make money, then keep the trend going as technology advances. Look at Apple with the ipod, why does it not have a camera or a ton of memory like the ipod classic? It will in time. It's all marketing to make a profit, the American way.

On the Korea issue, the US has been weak in their negotiations, I see products not being sold in the military stores because Korea states it is loosing money for their business that soldiers would use. Look out for your own, especially on foreign soil. Example is Vonage, then when it was available for purchase, it was marked up 300%, when you could get it for 39.99 from the states with free shipping. There are so many more examples.


October 20, 2009 9:13 PM

I am neither Korean nor American, but I live in Korea. I'd like to address some major points in people's arguments.
First, to say that Korean products are crap, is totally untrue, with Samsung, LG, Hyundai etc. etc. Koreans have strived to build an industry based on quality goods. Secondly, I say good for Korea for protecting their industry, are you telling me that the U.S. doesn't protect and hasn't protected some of their industries? I can list countless examples, check your history going back hundreds of years and even current trade disputes. Just over 20 years ago, Korea was a developing nation, and now look at it! I think it's done what it has to do to compete in the world market. For a country that has been occupied and taken over so many times, it needs to do what it can to protect its own interests.
As for using the U.S. as a security umbrella, well, isn't this what the world wants is to see a nation that has been protected to grow and prosper?
There seems to be a lot of anger towards Korea, but people, come on, you're complaining about something that no longer exists. What is this article about?! The fact that they are removing these restrictions, so why are you still complaining?


November 4, 2009 6:00 PM

Connor, I cannot agree with you more. I would buy anything good regardless where it's from. iPhone is great product and glad to hear it is one step close to Korean market. Not sure how well iPhone is going to do in Korea because there're so many great phones in Korea that are only available in the domestic market. Can't wait to see how well it's gonna do.

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