Smartphone subscriptions in South Korea have seen staggering growth in the last two years in South Korea, with nearly 40% of residents now owning a smartphone device, rising from an almost non-existant 1.7% in 2009.

New figures released by Korea’s telecom regulator Korea Communications Commission show that South Korean smartphone subscribers topped 20 million on Friday, with the countries leading mobile operator SK Telecom registering 10 million customers, 6.8 million with KT Corp. and 3.3 million at LG Uplus Corp – rising from 15 million users in July.

Smartphone subscriptions are expected to rise to 42% by the end of the year, a huge difference from 14.2% at the end of 2010 and 1.7% a year previous.

Sales of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphones have helped to boost subscriptions, making it the fastest growing segment in the country’s wireless market with around 52 million users. The Galaxy S II topped one million sales in Korea in its first month on sale, reaching the milestone in less than half the time its predecessor reached the same mark, with Apple’s iPhone 4 reaching 300,000 preorders before it went on sale.