November 22, 2017 12:40
Apple plans to open its first fully owned and branded Korean store in trendy Garosu-gil in Seoul's Gangnam next month. The 1,297 sq.m shop will sell Apple merchandise and local SIM cards.
The builders said Tuesday that major work has been completed and exterior and interior finishing is in progress. Construction started in August and is scheduled for completion on Dec. 23.
The U.S. company operates 500 Apple Stores in only 22 countries while the rest are authorized resellers. The first Apple Store in Asia opened in Japan in 2003 but Korea had none so far.
One industry insider said Apple is still in talks about the business license to offer mobile phone services from the nation's three telecom service providers, but the green light is expected as early as next month.
Currently iPhone buyers have to go to SK Telecom, LG Uplus or KT mobile operators to get their devices activated.
Loyal customers welcomed the development because the Apple Store will have a tech support station where trained technicians will help customers with their products.
But owners and staff of authorized resellers are upset. A staffer at the Korean Mobile-Device Distribution Association said, "At a time when there is a shortage in the supply of iPhone X, existing dealers could take a hit if Apple sends shipments mainly to its own store."
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