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In South Korea, All of Life Is Mobile

CHOE SANG-HUN – The New York Times – Published Sunday 24 May, 2009

Kim Hee Young, right, 21, a statistics major, and Choi Yoon Hee, 22, a computer science major, bought food tickets in the cafeteria at at Sookmyung Womens University using their cellphones. Image: Park Jin-Hee for the International Herald Tribune

Kim Hee Young, right, 21, a statistics major, and Choi Yoon Hee, 22, a computer science major, bought food tickets in the cafeteria at at Sookmyung Women's University using their cellphones. Image: Park Jin-Hee for the International Herald Tribune

SEOUL — Kim Hee-young, a statistics major at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul, holds more or less her whole life in her hands.

She wakes up in the morning when her mobile phone detonates an alarm, a loud Korean pop song. She checks weather forecasts on its screen before selecting what to wear.

In the subway, Ms. Kim breezes through the turnstile after tapping the phone on a box that deducts the fare from a chip that contains a cash balance. While riding to school, she uses her mobile to check if a book has arrived at the library, slays aliens in a role-playing game, updates her Internet blog or watches TV. . .

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