October 25, 2010

Korean Cell Phones

As most of you know, South Korea is one of the technology capitals of the world. The second and third largest mobile phone companies in the world, Samsung and LG, are both Korean companies (source). Therefore, Korea has the largest share in the mobile phone market and it is visible in their culture.According to MSNBC over 93% of Koreans had a cell phone in 2009 and the number has been rising. Suprisingly, this statistic is easy to believe after living here for 2 months. Almost every single person I have seen has had a cell phone in their hand. My Co-Teachers have told me that Korean children usually get a cell phone once they enter elementary school, age 8. And my friends who work in elementary schools can attest to it! Every single student in my middle school has a cell phone. Even the extremely old Korean men and women I see on the subway have their cell phones in their hands texting.
There are also mega cell phone stores at every corner. Each store has hundreds of phones for sale and is somehow always busy. Check out this picture of the cell phone mega store in my building.
Koreans use their cell phones constantly for many things other than phone calls. They text like no other 13 year old I have ever seen and they stream live TV on their phones 24/7. Anytime you find yourself on public transportation in Korean more than half of the people on your bus/train/subway will be watching TV on their cell phones. Amazing right?

Here is the commercial for the newest Samsung phone: The Galaxy (i-phoneish) (people are going crazy for it here).

Last but not least here is a photo of my very own Korean cell phone. My students have told me the nick name for my phone is "The Ice Cream Phone." So whenever I have my phone out at school students walk by screaming, "Teacha got a ice cram phoney". Also cell phone charms are the only way to go here. I have two on my phone right now. The white charm is for my cell phone charger. All chargers in Korea are universal, therefore, each phone has an attachment to the charger. Most people wear it was a charm. My second charm are two golden pigs I won in a sniper bb gun contest on the streets of Bucheon (true story).
I picked out the cheapest phone in the store, the free one with starting a phone plan. However, I did not expect how cool it would turn out to be. The free phones in Korea come with free streaming of live TV and phone to phone video chat (yes like the i-phone 4). Pretty much this simple looking Korean flip phone is the best phone I have ever had. However, all the TV is in Korean, so I don't watch it often!
Overall, two thumbs up for Korean cell phones. Keep it up Korea!

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