Digital natives get iPad fever, despite the priceA new rule that allows Koreans to import one iPad per person has members of the “digital native” generation champing at the bit to get their hands on the hot new gadget - and they don’t care what they pay for the privilege.
The Korea Communications Commission, the state-run communications regulator, announced on April 27 that it would allow limited imports of Apple’s tablet computers, which are not available for purchase in Korean stores.
That news freed digital natives - a term coined by American education expert Marc Prensky in 2001, which refers to the generation who were born when digital technologies already existed and grew up with computers, cell phones and MP3 players - to try to get the hot device from people who are willing to buy them overseas and ship them to Korea, for a hefty mark-up.
The price for getting the 16-gigabyte iPad from a private buyer is around 700,000 won ($607). In the United States, the tablet computer starts at $499.
Since the KCC made its announcement, the number of bulletin boards offering iPads for private sale on Korea’s major portal sites, such as Daum and Naver, has skyrocketed. When one Internet site announced this month it would take orders for the gadget, it received 40 orders from Korean customers within nine days.
Private sales take place when an overseas buyer buys a large quantity of iPads, based on orders he or she receives from Korea. The buyer then ships the computers to individual Korean customers through express mail. At present, private sales are the only way to bring an iPad into Korea, as the KCC has banned large imports.
“I just bought an iPad through a private overseas buyer because I couldn’t resist a devil inside of me who whispered and insisted getting one,” a consumer wrote on the Web site’s bulletin board.
“I heard iPad will officially hit stores in Korea after June, but I can’t wait that long and I’m ordering one here,” another gadget lover wrote.
Experts said the digital natives’ overwhelming response to the iPad is natural, and the fad doesn’t shock them.
“Digital natives have already passed purchase boundaries at the domestic level,” said Whang Sang-min, a psychology professor at Yonsei University. “They feel they lag behind if they didn’t buy the new gadget right after it’s released.”
Whang said that the Korean laws restricting imports ignored consumer demand, and in response customers are making their best efforts to obtain one in any reasonable way.
“The government’s ban on importing iPads directly is nonsense,” Whang said.
By Kim Mi-ju, Kim Hyo-eun [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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