< Anchor>
If you buy a smartphone through
a telecommunications company, you can get a subsidy, so you can buy it cheaper. However, the law prohibits the payment of more than a certain amount, but this is not being followed well due to the increasing competition among telecom companies. When I interviewed him, there was a place that gave away a mobile phone for more than 1 million won for free.

Reporter Kim Kwan-jin covered the report.

A large smartphone store in
Guro-gu, Seoul.

I told him that I wanted to buy the basic model of the Galaxy S23 with a factory price of 1.155 million won.

[Mr. A/Mobile phone salesman: (How much is the disclosure subsidy now?) 500,000 won. (Device price) 650,000 won left, so if we also subsidize our store, the device price (with a monthly plan of 90,000 won) is 250,000 won or 300,000 won.]

If you pay using an affiliated credit card, the amount will go down even more.

[Mr. A/Mobile phone sales business: Do you go to the bank or credit card to pay the bill? (Cards.) Where's the card? (○○.) Then it's free. (Is it free?) Yes. (Free at all?)]

By combining the telecom company subsidy, the store subsidy, and the card company promotion, the 1 million won smartphone became free.

Under the Terminal Distribution Structure Improvement Act, also known as the "Single Line Act", stores can only provide up to 15% of the telecom company's subsidy, but it is not followed in the field.

[Mr. B/Mobile phone sales: (Telecommunications company) We can only take 15% of the disclosure subsidy, basically. But you're not here to get a discount on this. We're going to do it today. (It's only 100,000 won, right?) Don't tell me the price....]

Online, there is a steady stream of articles that ignore the single-line law and write information on the location of stores that sell cheaper and the sales price.

The three telecommunications companies said they did not provide any additional support to their stores other than the disclosed subsidies, but the Korea Communications Commission recently summoned executives from the three telecommunications companies to warn them of excessive competition for subsidies.

(Video Editing: Shin Se-eun, VJ: Kim Young-rae)

< anchor>
We'll talk to reporter Kim Kwan-jin, who covered
this story.

Q. What is the single-line method and the effectiveness of the sales site?

[Kim Kwan-jin: The Dantong Act was created in 2014 with the aim of preventing excessive customer grabbing marketing and illegal subsidy competition. This is the 10th year of the law's implementation. As you have seen, there was competition for subsidies beyond the legal regulations at various sales sites.]

Q. Controversy over the single-pass law... Any problems?

[Reporter Kim Kwan-jin: There is also a net function of the single-line law. By setting a certain subsidy, it eliminates discrimination between users. For example, it can prevent the elderly and the elderly who are not familiar with discount information from buying expensive phones. But overall, consumers' eyes are not very good. When the competition for subsidies disappeared, consumers bought phones at a higher price and only doubled the carriers. After the single-line law, Pantech and LG Electronics folded the mobile phone business, and the manufacturing market is currently bisected by Samsung and Apple. In a situation where consumers have no choice, low-cost terminals disappear and high-end terminals go up in price. Markets Competition has shrunk, but instead of investing in technology and facilities, telecom companies have accumulated more than 1 trillion won in operating profits last year. It's not just the impact of the one-way law, but it's also clear that consumers have bought phones at a high price.]

Q. Is the government considering reforming the single-line law?

[Kim Kwan-jin: The government is currently focusing on amending the law rather than abolishing the single-line law, because if the regulation is suddenly removed, there is a risk that the market will become turbid due to overheated cost competition, and the budget phone market may also be affected. We are discussing the revision of the TF, but we are discussing retaining the single-line law and instead raising the support limit for retailers to 30% of the telecom operator's subsidy.]