Apple MacProblems

Last year my wife and I splurged and we each bought an Apple MacBook. These are beautiful machines, and a hell of a lot more user friendly than the PCs that I’ve been fighting with over the last few years. Everything has gone swimmingly with our Macs – until we came to Korea.

The first inkling that there might be problems was when I had to connect my MacBook to my school’s network. The school called in a technician to sort out some problems with the network, and they promised that the guy would set my computer up at the same time. The guy walked in, sat down at my desk, and then didn’t move for about 3 minutes. I think he didn’t realise it was a Mac until he sat down, and now he had to somehow extricate himself without losing face. He waited until no-one except yours truly was watching, and then he scooted over to the desk alongside mine, without once actually touching my Macbook. He was very smooth, I have to say, since no-one else noticed.

You see, Korea is the land of PCs, not Macs. The computer guys here have no idea how to work with Macs, and will do anything to avoid them. So this technician, for example, worked on ALL the computers in the office, except mine. I assume he told the powers that be that there was something wrong with my MacBook, or that it won’t work on the school network. Something along those lines. This is the acceptable answer for any situation that involves a Mac.

A similar thing happened when we arranged an internet connection at home. The technician set everything up, but when it came to connecting our computers to the internet he almost bolted for the door when he saw our Macs. Instead of sorting the problem out, he said that our Macs won’t work with the connection and then he left. Just like that.

The funny thing is that Macs work on the same principles as PCs, but the computer guys here assume that they don’t know how to work with them. So I’ve had to take a crash course in basic networking to sort my internet problems out. And you know what? My MacBook connects just fine to the internet at home, and to the network at my school. And it was as simple as finding out some network codes and typing these into my MacBook’s network settings. Easy-peasy.

I don’t blame the Korean technicians for avoiding Macs – especially ones with English settings. Macs look unfamiliar, and they aren’t used to working with them. But this does make it really hard to get fix any problems, since they assume they can’t work wit Macs.

Generally we have been ok, but the latest problem is going to cost us a bundle. After we returned from China, my wife’s MacBook refused to start. We tried all sorts of fixes, but nothing worked. So we had to take it into a service centre. Of course, the nearest service centre is in Seoul, a good two-hour trip away. I ended up having to take a whole afternoon off to take the MacBook to UBase, an AppleMac service centre near Coex Mall.

After much misunderstanding and translation, they said the problem was a failed hard drive. But, to replace the hard drive, WE had to purchase one and take it to them. This was just plain weird. So we had to make a two-hour trip to Seoul just to purchase a hard drive in Coex Mall, and then walk across the street to give it to the technician at UBase to install it. He quickly put it in, and then reinstalled OSX, and we took the MacBook home. It worked fine that night, and the next morning, and then it conked out again. Same problem as before. So this meant another trip to Seoul to take it back. This time, the problem seemed to be the logic board, which would cost us 900,000 won to replace. For some perspective, a brand new MacBook costs 1,390,000. Almost as much. Great. This is after we already spent 115,000 won on a new hard drive, and over 50,000 won in travel costs to get to Seoul and back home. And at the end of the day, we still don’t have a laptop that works.

We now have to decide whether to buy a new MacBook or not, since it will cost too much to fix the old one. Sigh.

If we had a Windows laptop, we probably wouldn’t have had so many problems trying to fix it. PC stores are a dime a dozen here. So even though I’m a fan of MacBooks, these are a problem in Korea. Trying to sort out even the smallest problems keeps on becoming a major hassle, just because no-one knows how to work with them. And if you don’t live in a major city, then trying to get a MacBook fixed can become a financial and logistical nightmare.

Not that this means we’ll be going back to PC. Never! But I do wish Apple was more widespread in Korea. I can keep dreaming, can’t I?


9 responses to “Apple MacProblems

  1. I have a mac and I just arrived in Korea from Canada! I hope I don’t have issues setting it up! Although I have a friend who had hers set up and had to call an IT guy in Canada to help set it up. Eventually they did but it was a big pain in the bum!

    Anyways, I agree. The koreans should learn to use macs! Thanks for your story!

  2. sounds like me wanting to do sewing in south-korea – a very freaky thing for them – yeah i know its a little weird – here’s a LOT of clothes and cheap ones too – but sewing is my hobby – it calms me down – but with no haberdasheries around it takes me a month or so just to get a zip or something because it means a trip to dongdeumung and that’s a crazy adventure you see – talk about a LOT of everything – super understatement – and some of the shop/stall owners are very rude – they don’t like selling in small amounts … a BIG LOT of a limited range of things – that’s the way here – my eye couldn’t get used to the traffic thing in the beginning – it freaked me to see so much of the same … the colour and variety of south-africa is incomparable!

  3. Hi Michelle

    Glad you liked the story. I hope you have better luck than me while you are in Korea.


  4. Hi MMS

    My wife has also had problems trying to find stuff to knit. The shopowners here seem to sell only in bulk, and the selection isn’t very good. I’m looking forward to getting back to SA and doing some proper shopping again!


  5. Hi. I just arrived in Korea about a week ago and have just discovered the difficulty surrounding Mac computers and the Internet here. In your story, you mentioned “finding some network codes” and I was hoping you could be a little more specific since it seems like I’ll have to sort this whole Internet connection thing out myself. Any help or advice would be useful!!! Thanks!

  6. Hi Lauren

    I hope you are enjoying Korea so far!

    I might be able to help you, depending on what your problem is.

    If you are trying to connect to a wired network (like at your school, where you plug a network cable into your Mac) then you will need to get stuff like IP addresses, router numbers and the like. Then you can just type these in (I can get more specific depending on your situation). It’s really not hard, but it can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start.

    BUT, if you are connecting to the internet via a wireless router, than it is much easier. You just switch on your airport, look for the network name, type in a password (if there is one), and you’re connected!

    If you can tell me what your specific situation is, I’ll see if I can help. I’m a non-techie, so I usually of muddle along until I find something that works.


  7. Hey man,

    Cheers for the heads up on UBase out there. Can I ask you, was it in a shop called, “@Sharp”?

    My MacBook has just decided to die on me and it’s still on warranty. I have heard, via the Apple website, that they cover warranty issue here and there is a response on Yahoo! Answers that someone had the same issues as me, took it to them and they just replaced their MacBook, right there on the spot.

    Just curious if your computer was under their AppleCare warranty or under a standard warranty, or if it was out of the warranty and perhaps that was why you had to purchase your own parts for it….

    Not a fun experience and having to travel to Yongsan the other day just to have some understanding of what to do (ultimately to no avail) was useless. This UBase place just seems like trouble for a waeguk like myself in these parts.

    Ohhh bother, thanks for the post. (Love South Africa, used to live there [Cape Town and Durbs] and desire nothing more than to return for a very long time.)

    Cheers bru,


  8. Hi Jordan

    Sorry to hear about your MacBook. It’s a terrible feeling when they just die on you.

    No, the Ubase that I went to was not in a shop. It was in another building across the street from Coex mall. They were actually quite efficient, though because my wife’s MacBook was out of warranty it turned into one large hassle. I have to go back there again to fix a crack on my MacBook’s handrest, so I’ll be using UBase again. I’ve had trouble even getting hold of other places to repair my Mac.

    Give them a try, especially as you are still under warranty. They look it up under your MacBook’s serial number. I’m sure they’ll be able to do something for you. The problem with ours was that they couldn’t seem to identify the problem, and because it would be expensive to repair they sort of avoided doing anything. If yours is under warranty you shouldn’t have these problems.

    Ahhh, I miss good ol’ SA. Glad you liked it while you lived there. I came here from Cape Town, and I’m dying for a decent cocktail while watching the sunset over the sea. *sigh*


  9. a few minutes ago,i was browsing on this webpage about macs,planning to go to seoul and buy one but thanks for your info dude,it changed my mind….i terribly like to buy mac,i so love it but the problem is,im going to live here in korea for good,and i think i dont want to have a “forever problem”with my supposed to be “future macbook.” im thinking to buy sony vaio, or does anybody have a suggestion?

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