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Korean phone retailers harassing women

Impending reforms to handset subsidies have retailers resorting to extreme measures, with some snatching phones from women in attempts to force them to enter stores.

Video footage shows a retailer taking a woman's phone away. SBS. Screenshot by Aloysius Low/CNET

Korean phone retailers are reportedly resorting to strong-arm tactics against women in an extreme effort to force them to become customers.

Footage broadcast this week by Korean TV station SBS shows employees of a retail store owned by a carrier approaching a woman looking at her phone. One staff member grabs her phone and runs inside the store, while the other tells the victim the phone will be returned if she just goes inside.

The original video is region-locked to Korea, but a copy has been embedded below. The name of the carrier in question is not revealed in the SBS report.

The retailers seem to only target women and have been seen to engage in forcible physical contact, grabbing victims by the arm and dragging them into stores. In one instance, a man takes the phone of a female passer-by, refuses to give back her phone once inside the store, and immediately begins looking into pictures stored in her device.

While local police departments are reportedly aware of such cases and have urged the public to report harassment, there have been no reported repercussions for retailers or the carrier.

There have been an increasing number of reports of Korean carriers using dirty tactics to get customers to come into stores. With major reforms to handset subsidies set to take place in October, retailers are desperate to sign up as many customers as possible in the next two months.

The Korean government's new policy will strictly regulate subsidies and make them transparent to consumers, addressing a longstanding issue for the country's mobile market.