Today I went to a cool place with Laura called Techno-mart. It’s a huuuuuuge building attached to Gangbyeon station (line 2). Each floor specializes in some kind of electronic equipment (games, cameras, phones, televisions, computers etc etc). It’s actually built into the subway and a lot of it is underground. It was intense. I went to try and get my cellphone working which is a long and complicated story that is to frustrating to re-live again.
I arrived on the 6th floor, greeted by a sea of cellphone booths saying “Anycall” and “KTF”, wondering what was the difference. At first I went from booth to booth trying to utilize what limited Korean I have, but most people dismissed me immediately on account of my being a foreigner and obviously not speaking the language. Most people just waved their hands to pass me on to the next booth. Although I felt like it was admitting defeat, I ended up asking people “do you speak any english?” (at least I asked that much in Korean) until somebody said “a little.”
My biggest problem was that I was trying to find out if I could get my American-bought Samsung phone, which I had purchased being told would work here, to work on the network by purchasing some kind of pre-paid sim card. After being sent all over creation, including to the KTF customer service (where they prepay minutes and help with service contracts) and being told “NO” with that often-seen symbol of crossed-arms and a smile, I wandered out looking defeated.
Then a man approached me in perfect English asking if I needed help. He explained that while I could get a sim card, pre-paid is not an option anywhere. So technically my cellphone could pick up the network (we tested it out with a sim card), I couldn’t get a plan. He ended up selling me a cheap(ish) prepaid cellphone for 60,000 won which charges 10,000 won for 30 minutes, and 60 won per text message. So I’ll just text message most of the time.
A caution to foreigners wanting to buy a cellphone– have your freaking foreigner ID card or passport on you! I didn’t carry mine around because I don’t want to lose the thing, but I ended up having to go back to Yonsei and fax the information and get the security guard to call up KTF and get it to work… bit hairy ordeal, but now I have a cellphone.
The guy was incredibly nice and helpful. His English was great even though he said he never went to college and has never been abroad. I’m so impressed! And kind of surprised that he’s working that kind of job, considering how crazy competitive I’ve heard the job market is here for English speakers.
After all of that we didn’t have the time to look around any more, but I hope I get the chance to later.