China can't touch South Korea -- or, at least so far as the iPhone is concerned.

Carrier KT Corp. (NYSE:KTC) pre-sold 65,000 handsets before the iPhone's debut weekend on the peninsula, according to The Wall Street Journal. China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) sold 60,000 less during its opening sales weekend a month ago.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) should nevertheless be pleased. China Unicom's failure is less a failure of the device as it is of the carrier and government policy. Cheaper, more functional iPhones have been widely available in Beijing's gray market for a while. Many of them operate via China Mobile's (NYSE:CHL) vast network.

Others are simply buying from the U.S. "Its about 3500 Yuan, or $500 cheaper to get a contract with AT&T (NYSE:T), break it, pay the cancellation fee, ship it to China, get it unlocked, and use it as a normal phone," wrote a commenter to the Journal story named "Brandon."

If KT Corp. is doing better in South Korea -- home to global electronics superstars Samsung and LG -- it may because it's taking China Unicom's strategy and reversing it. For example, KT is offering some iPhone models free, and monthly plan rates range between $38 and $115, the Journal reports. Such pricing has KT predicting it will sell up to a half-million iPhones to its customers.

And where is SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) in all this? On the sidelines, with executives waiting and evaluating whether they want to strike a deal with Apple. Let's hope they don't wait too long. KT Corp.'s customers aren't exactly proving to be patient.

But that's my take. Do you agree? Should SK Telecom book a deal with Apple soon? Please vote in the poll below. You can also sound off in the comments section at the bottom.

Apple is a Stock Advisor selection. SK Telecom is a Global Gains recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy can't decide on its favorite on-hold music. What's yours?