While I'm an E-2 visa holder who has faced some inconveniences because of companies' discriminatory policies, I do realize that they aren't without reason when directed at those on E-2s. I don't have any statistics on teachers who pull midnight runners, but anecdotal evidence tells me that they happen with enough frequency to scare banks and telecommunications companies. Moreover, how many teachers leave at the end of a contract without cancelling service or paying all the bills?
Wagner has included a "foreigner phone chart," used by one company to show the services available based on visa type. It shows that, at this company, E-2 visa holders can either make a 200,000 won deposit to get unlimited air time (with a monthly fee), or get limited airtime for 35,000 won per month. This deposit is refundable, I believe, at the completion of a contract, though it's still a little confusing and I've never seen any explanation anywhere.
I bought my cellphone in August, 2005, after being in Korea for about a month. (It's this one, and it cost a whopping 120,000 won.) The bank where I bought it happened to be offering plans through LG Telecom and I was pleased to learn that I could purchase a phone without putting it in a Korean person's name or having them co-sign. I'm unclear on the details on these policies, though I was told by many people that this was a frequent practice. I didn't put down a deposit, either. About two years later it was time to replace my phone. After the fact I learned how to say "second-hand" in Korean because it turned out the store sold me a second-hand model. I don't know anything about technology and just wanted the cheapest, barest-bones model available, and saw one comparable to my old one. However, I couldn't buy from that company without putting down a 200,000 won deposit. Even though my actual phone company would remain unchanged, buying models from certain companies would require a 200,000 won deposit. It is refundable, as I said, though it bothered me on principle, and I ended up buying a much fancier phone than I wanted simply because I wouldn't have to put down the deposit.
Like I said I don't know anything about technology and usually don't follow news pertaining to it, so I'll have to defer to others about recent news. But speaking of buying a second-hand phone I recall this news story from March, 2008, that said company SK would turn off unregistered telephones. Nothing wrong with that on paper, though it presented a problem to those who bought a phone second-hand or who inherited one from another foreigner leaving the country. There was a letter to the Joongang Ilbo at the time on it:
Some people were using prepaid phones for scams, so SK decided that anyone using a phone not registered in their own name would have service shut off in a month.
This means that many foreigners here using phones bought from other foreigners will have to buy a new phone after March 31, even though they’ve been paying, responsible customers of SK.
I bought my phone from another foreigner, a girl I didn’t know, in February of last year. I can’t change the registration name because she isn’t here anymore. I explained this to a customer service representative and he was really nice, but told me there was nothing he could do and no one higher up I could talk to.
Basically, SK is forcing me to buy another phone because of something I had nothing to do with.
I guess I avoided that headache by virtue of buying from a then-ubiquitous LG store. Here's the five-page thread on Dave's ESL Cafe that got the news out in the beginning, in case you're interested. And here's the Dave's thread on Wagner's article.
It's also worth mentioning here that in the fall of 2007, when I moved to Suncheon and was trying to get internet hooked up in my apartment, LG Powercom wouldn't give it to me, saying they didn't provide service to foreigners. Their reason was that Koreans signed multi-year contracts, though foreigners on an E-2 visa often couldn't do that. However, I had been a customer with LG Telecom for about two years, and had a contract with LG Powercom the year before in Gangjin, and was bothered by being refused service. Here's a thread I started about it on Dave's in 2007.
I will say that one nice thing about LG Teleom is that they send you phone bills in both English and Korean.