More than half of Koreans change their mobile phones once a year, according to a study, and more than 90 percent of used mobile phones are not recycled, leading to wasted resources.
According to data obtained by Saenuri Party lawmaker Cho Hae-jin from the Korea Communications Commission, SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus on Monday, the three mobile providers sold 25.86 million handsets in 2010, 26.73 million in 2011, and 12.45 million in the first half of this year alone.
Given the more than 100-percent penetration rate of mobile phones in Korea, this means that more than half of all Koreans switch handsets once a year.
Cho is a member of the Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communications Committee at the National Assembly.
But only a tiny proportion of used mobile phones were recycled. The ratio of recycled phones to new phones sold was 11.6 percent in 2010 and a paltry 5.8 percent last year, or an average of 8.7 percent.
By company, SK Telecom's recycling ratio was the highest at 12.6 percent in 2010 and 8.9 percent in 2011. At KT it was 11.6 percent in 2010 and only 2.7 percent last year, and at LG Uplus 8.8 percent in 2010 and 3.9 percent last year.
According to a study last year by market researcher Recon Analytics, Koreans switched mobile phones every 26.9 months, faster than Japan (46.3 months) and Italy (51.5 months).