I Got SKT to Make Me a Data-Sharing ESIM!

By policy, you can’t get an eSIM from SKT for data-sharing purposes. If you try online, an error message pops up saying that tablets are not supported for the eSIM generation process, and the customer service agents also say it’s impossible. I also couldn’t find anything scouring the various Korean forums, so I assumed I had to use a USIM again to open up a data-sharing line.

But when I went to a SKT branch yesterday, I needed two fields – IMEI1 and IMEI2. Most phones have the two systems for eSIMs and USIMs separate, assigning a separate IMEI to each, which makes eSIM generation possible for those devices. However, for tablets supporting eSIM like the iPad, most of them share a single IMEI value between the eSIM and USIM, switching back and forth as necessary, and many SKT employees just give up at this stage. However, after inputting the same IMEI value for both fields, the registration process proceeded normally.

Of course, this is still against policy, and because data-sharing lines can be frozen or have other issues crop up if you look at it wrong, you need to be aware of the fact that you may potentially waste the eSIM generation fee when you proceed with this process.

Once the registration process was over and the eSIM QR code was scanned on the iPad camera, the eSIM downloaded without any problems. Honestly, this shouldn’t be such a big surprise since eSIMs and USIMs are the same – only Korean telcos treat them differently. (Because we’re sooooo special…)

If you go for the same thing but the employee won’t do it for you, then I suggest going to a different branch, possibly one run directly by SKT (called 직영점 in Korea). I also got denied a year ago at a different branch. Because this is something that they’re doing against policy, don’t be rude to them if they don’t do it for you and ask them politely or ask another employee.

As a side node, I thought about why they would need both IMEI values, and decided that the carriers were collecting them to freeze SIMs with non-matching identities. (So in Korea, to prevent burner phones, carriers will automatically freeze both lines if they detect that they have different registered identitites but are tied to the same phone.) Which doesn’t make sense, because there are cases where you may need two SIM cards with different registered identities in the same phone (like if you’re troubleshooting why a given USIM card of your relative won’t work in their phone), and if you really needed a burner phone you’d just buy more of them. I suspect the rule’s really in place just to inconvenience consumers.