Sunday, November 28, 2010

Annoying Things About Korea #1: The Price of Electronics is Stupidly High

Annoying Things About Korea #1:  The Price of Electronics is Stupidly High

Korea is the home of two of the most advanced consumer electronics products companies in the world, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics.  A long time ago (30 years ago), these products made by LG and Samsung were relegated to discount stores in the U.S.  LG was called GoldStar at that time.  Both brands were regarded as lower priced, lower quality brands.  Well, that has changed indeed.  As a result of global competition, the prices that LG and Samsung charge in foreign markets are limited by the fact that there are other capable consumer electronics companies:  Apple, IBM, Sony, Dell, and now Chinese-made Haier is making progress on the international stage.  Perhaps you would believe that the competitive pricing that exists in other countries would also exist in Korea.  Nope.

The Seoul Gyopo Guide vehemently disagrees with the Korean companies that charge excessive prices for products without the most updated features to Korean citizens.  When considering laptop computers, it makes absolutely no sense to buy a Korean companies' laptop computer in Korea.

Laptop computer price example
In the U.S.,
Dell Inspiron N4010 Laptop:  $575, i.e. less than 700,000 KRW.
Intel i3 Processor
14.1 Inch Screen
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit

In Korea, the equivalent computer costs:  1,150,000 KRW i.e. $1000.
This computer has 2GB RAM, and a 250GB HDD.  It has the same processor and the same size screen.  In addition, the Windows 7 version is the 32-Bit version.

In other words, the computer in Korea costs over 50% more than a computer with greater capability and storage size.  There is no reason for Koreans to tolerate this.  It is perfectly legal to go to another country, and buy a laptop.  You may say that there is the cost of Windows 7 and keyboard issue.  Both can be easily overcome in Korea for minimal cost.  Even if you purchase a legal copy of Windows 7, that would cost less than $150.  The keyboard issue?  Go to Link-O and buy the stickers for 2,000 KRW.

If Korea did not have the technology to produce these final products, that would be one thing.  However, these computers are designed and either manufactured in Korea or nearby Asian countries.  There is no reason that the price of more advanced computers shouldn't be lower, not higher, than in the U.S.  The victims of this price-gouging by LG Electronics and Samsung?  Everyday Koreans, many of them students.  So the irony here is that Korean companies are making the cost of educating Korean citizens higher, when many Koreans cannot afford to pay for all of the hagwons that they must attend.

The Seoul Gyopo Guide finds this as one of the most Annoying Things About Korea.  There are others, which will follow.  Some will be controversial, and others will be obvious.  This over-pricing of laptop computers is painfully obvious.  Many Koreans travel overseas or to other countries these days.  My suggestion?  Go to a local electronics store in the foreign country and buy the laptop there, and save yourself the 300,000 KRW.


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