Why do most import pickups sound the way they do?

Metric vs Standard.

I’ve always assumed that the imports are built to a price-point that’s quite a bit lower. Get as close to the sound of the “real” ones at a particular dollar target.

Are current SEs and S2s no-longer using Korean-made G&B pickups? I hadn’t heard that “S” pickups were being built in Indonesia.
I think this is spot on. They are building to a price point and have to figure out how to get as close to what they want within the budget they have. They have to cut corners somewhere to get into that budget. I have seen construction differences in some of the pickups I have swapped out that show this. I have seen it on single coils where they put a magnet bar across the bottoms of the pole pieces instead of using magnetized pole pieces when they make the pickups. Those type of pickups usually sound weaker than the US made pickups where they use more expensive materials and put the proper magnets in them.