South Korea rule change paves way for iPhone

South Korea was once a kind of mythical promised land, home to the coolest, most advanced phones in the world—a Narnia for cell phones, if you will. But that was before the iPhone; since Apple’s do-everything device has hit the scene, South Korea’s cell phone industry has started to seem like it was lagging behind. But, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, a new decision means that the iPhone will finally make its way to the country’s shores.

Last December, the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) dropped a rule that all smartphones on sale in the country had to support a technology called the Wireless Internet Platform for Interoporability, or WIPI.

That ruling paved the way for sales of RIM’s BlackBerry, which was available—to corporate customers only—beginning in April. But the iPhone was still held back, thanks to a separate rule specifying that domestic technology must be used for location services on phones. However, the KCC on Wednesday issued a specific exemption for the iPhone.

It’s not known exactly when the iPhone will show up in South Korea, though reports say Apple has long been in talks with the country’s second-largest wireless provider, KT Corp. However, Apple’s move into South Korea puts it on the home ground of two of the world’s largest handset producers, Samsung and LG, which might make it an uphill slog for the iPhone.

No word yet on any move from Apple on North Korea, though Apple is thought to be reticient to have the iPhone trim its hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle.

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