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iPhone X starts sales in Korea and aficionados go berserk

Nov 25,2017
Customers waiting in line at the Frisbee branch in Gangnam, southern Seoul on Thursday. The first iPhone Xs were sold Friday. [YONHAP]
Sohn Hyun-gi, a 26-year-old owner of an iPhone 6S, waited for a week in front of KT Square in Jung District, central Seoul to become the first person in Korea to get Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone X smartphone from KT on Friday.

The last such dedicated Apple aficionado, eager to get an iPhone 8 when it was released on Nov. 3, waited outside the same KT branch - but only for 66 hours.

Sohn, who is working on his own start-up after quitting a job, has been an avid fan of Apple’s iPhone since it first arrived in Seoul in 2009.

The telecommunication company KT offered Sohn free use of its unlimited data streaming, which usually costs 76,890 won ($70.83) per month.

Despite being the most expensive iPhone ever - and its price tag in Korea is particularly steep - the release of the iPhone X Friday created significant buzz.

Apple vendor Frisbee started sales of the model at midnight Friday at its branch in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, and about 200 people lined up despite snowy weather.

The first customer was a high school senior who took the College Scholastic Aptitude Test earlier in the day, according to industry sources. Sales at the shop continued until past 2 a.m.

Another Frisbee store in Myeongdong, central Seoul, which opened at 8 a.m., had tens of people lining up.

SK Telecom and LG U+ held launch events for the iPhone X on Friday. They invited random customers that preordered the phone to participate in the launch event.

In Korea, the phone is sold through local mobile carriers for 1,360,700 won for the 64 gigabyte model and 1,557,600 for the 256GB model, roughly 200,000 won higher than prices in the United States.

The price is even higher for unlocked phones introduced through the Apple Korea website (Unlocked phones can be used on different carriers if their SIM cards are changed.) The larger capacity iPhone X sold for 1,630,000 won through that route.

The iPhone X boasts a full front screen with an OLED display and 3-dimensional facial recognition technology.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]