Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The November 2017 Pohang Earthquake Likely Human-caused!

This post concerns the unexpected side effects that science and technology can sometimes create.  As reported widely in the local media, including the Korea Joongang Daily, citizens from Pohang demonstrated outside the national assembly yesterday to demand compensation for damage caused by the November 2017 earthquake.
The quake was the second largest to hit Korea and my wife and I felt it in our apartment here in Songdo (Incheon).
As reported in the Korea Joongang Daily, "An international research group led by the Geological Society of Korea announced in March that the quake in Pohang in November 2017 was likely triggered by the government’s geothermal power experiments. The group analyzed 520 earthquakes in Pohang, North Gyeongsang, from January 2009 to November 2017, of which around 240 took place within three miles of a site where the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy were experimenting with the Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS), a technology that turns geothermal power into electricity and involves the fracturing of hot underground rock with pressurized liquid, known as hydraulic stimulation. According to the group, there were at least five hydraulic stimulations from the EGS experiments that significantly disturbed faults in the area, which, in turn, triggered the Pohang earthquake in November 2017."

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Second edition of Digital Development in Korea forthcoming

I'm pleased to let readers of this blog know that the second edition of my book with Dr. Oh Myung (I am the second author) will be published this summer, with a new subtitle.  The full  title is Digital Development in Korea:  Lessons for a Sustainable World
Digital development in Korea, with its world-leading networks, is a moving target!  Dr. Oh and I had thought a second edition would be needed after about five years, but other important matters required attention.  Nevertheless, this new book benefited greatly from my work at SUNY Korea over the past five years.  Also, it goes without saying that Dr. Oh's authorship of this volume makes it a unique and important account of what I would call the modern history of Korea's ICT sector.
Some of the key additions to the new book are as follows:

  • A new chapter on sustainability and green growth, with emphasis on smart grids.
  • Another new chapter on the relationship of ICT to the Olympics (Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games and Seoul 1988 Summer Games)
  • Greater emphasis throughout on the concept of "network-centric digital development," including its origins, growth and prospects.
  • More extensive and in-depth treatment of the "telecommunications revolution of the 1980s."
During January and February of this year, Dr. Oh and I worked intensively to finalize the manuscript for submission to Routledge.  Earlier this month (May) I reviewed and commented on a copy edited version of the manuscript.  The next step will be to review the page proofs.  Consequently, I have confidence that the July 31 availability date for the printed book is accurate.  See this Routledge page for information.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Korea's place in the race to 5G networks


In my own research and work with Korean colleagues I have characterized Korea's digital development as "network-centric," beginning with the revolutionary developments that took place in the 1980s, starting with the influential and visionary Long Term Plan to Foster the Electronics Sector.  The latest phase in this network-centric approach to national development involves the global race to build and commercialize 5G mobile networks.  The Korea Joongang Daily today published an interesting account, asking whether all the effort to be first with 5G was worth it.  Projections of growth in the global 5G market, along with the broad range of service markets that will utilize 5G would certainly seem to indicate its worth. 
However, as shown by a map of KT's 5G base stations as of April 2019, completion and commercialization of Korea's 5G networks is a long term project.  Network construction has started in the Seoul/national capital metropolitan area and other large cities.  Even in those cities, the project has a long way to go.   As noted by The Korea Joongang Daily  "The remaining task for the government and mobile carriers now - apart from building up 5G infrastructure to stabilize the network - is to build a solid 5G business ecosystem that can turn the network from a futuristic technology to an actual moneymaker."  In its efforts to accomplish these tasks, Korea is engaged in a race that is global in scope. another report on 5G by The Korea Joongang Daily.
Although Samsung Electronics may provide much of the network equipment for Korea's 5G networks, in the global context it still represents a small market share, as shown by the accompanying graphic.

Robot workers in Korea

Empirical data show that Korean workers put in some of the longest work hours of any country in the world.  However, Korea's industrial robots work even longer!  Furthermore, the use of industrial robots has grown in large part because the main engine of Korea's export-led economy is the ICT sector.  As shown in this graphic from Statista, (click for a larger version) Korea continues to lead the world in manufacturing robot density (the number of installed industrial robots per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry).  As noted in the Executive Summary World Robotics 2018 Industrial Robots, as of 2016 the electrical/electronics industry became the most important customer for industrial robots in almost all major Asian markets, e.g. China, Japan, Republic of Korea. Korea leads the way and Singapore has been rapidly catching up with about 90 percent of industrial robots in both countries installed in the electronics industry.  Writing this short post reminds me of the day I spent with Goldstar (now LG ) before the 1988 Seoul Olympics, including a tour of their manufacturing facility for VHS video recorders.   I was struck at the time by the extensive use of robots in the manufacture of videocassette recorders.   Looking ahead, where will this all lead?   Hint:  Korea will likely be a world leader in the emergence of the Internet of things (IoT)