Friday, January 6, 2023

More on the decline of Internet Cafes (aka PC Bangs)

 The Chosun Ilbo English edition caught my eye with the headline "Internet Cafes Vanish."  In fact, they have not vanished, but their use has declined dramatically during the Covid and post-Covid era.  For further background and detail on the Internet Cafe (AKA PC Bang) phenomenon in South Korea, search this blog ( a search on "PC Bang" yeilds this result).

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Korea to spend $144 million on digitalization of R&D

 As reported by The Korea Herald, "South Korea will spend 200 billion won ($144 million) on digital integration strategy projects over the next five years to shorten the time researchers take to solve complex problem surrounding new technologies by decades, the Ministry of Science said Tuesday."  Furthermore, the announcement indicated that "... the government will use the financial support for projects that integrate artificial intelligence, digital twin and big data into developing diagnoses of diseases such as intractable cancer and dementia, nine new materials and prediction models of changes in space."

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Revisiting the Rise and Fall of PC Bangs (a.k.a. Internet Cafes) in Korea


As readers of this blog will know, I've long been following the introduction, growth and decline of PC Bangs (literally PC Rooms), also known as Internet Cafes, in South Korea.   A search for "PC Bang" will locate a number of my earlier posts and provide some background on the main factors accounting for the emergence of PC Bangs and their eventual decline.  The graphic presented here charts the number of PC Bangs in Korea from their introduction in 1998 through 2020, as estimated by the Korea Creative Content Agency in their annual white papers on Korean games. (click on the graphic to see a full size version with the numbers legible at the top of bars)  Several patterns in this graphic are noteworthy.

First, the explosive growth in the number of PC Bangs from 1998 to 2000 coincided with the rapid growth of broadband internet services, led by Thrunet's cable modem service, followed shortly thereafter by Hanaro Telecom's entry into the market with DSL service.

Second, the decline in number of PC Bangs starting in 20010 coincided with the arrival of Apple's iPhone to the Korean market.  This arrival came two years after its introduction in the U.S. and after it had become popular in about 80 other countries.   2009 was also the year that Samsung and LG began manufacturing Android smart phones.  The improving technical capabilities of Android and Apple smart phones contributed to the growth of mobile games, at the expense of those played in PC Bangs or Arcades.

Third, from 2016 to 2019 there was a slight resurgence in the number of PC Bangs as Internet Cafe franchises entered the market and owners adapted to government regulations about the sale of food in them.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Death of Internet Explorer goes viral


Readers of this blog will know that I've long been interested in Korea's heavy dependence on Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, years after Microsoft itself warned against its use (click here for posts on IE and cyber-security).  The tombstone displayed in this photo (click for a full size version) was made by a Korean software engineer and displayed on the roof of his brother's cafe in Gyeongju went viral on the Internet.

The story was covered by CNN (see story here) and other mainstream media, but a review of posts on this blog will provide additional detail.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Korea's goals for AI chips

 As reported by the Korea Joongang Daily, Korea plans to be a leader in the manufacture of AI (Artificial Intellingence) chips.  According to the article, "Despite the country's strong position in memory chips and its growing presence in custom non-memory chips, ..... tomorrow belongs to companies that are best at designing and manufacturing high-performance processors, commonly called AI chips."  Furthermore, " AI chips are purposely built to perform very specific calculations as fast as possible. They are distinct from general-purpose processors, which are designed for a wider variety of functions, and are better suited for very specific, predetermined tasks that require impressive calculation capabilities and low energy consumption, such as voice recognition, autonomous driving, the metaverse and the Internet of Things."

The article goes on to note that " The AI chip category is broad and the definition is somewhat flexible. It includes application-specific integrated circuits, graphical processing units (GPU), neural processing units (NPUs), which are similar but more powerful than GPUs, and neuromorphic chips, which are still largely experimental. Introduced in December, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute(ETRI)'s ArtBrain-K is capable of running 5,000 trillion computations per second. The system is powered by ETRI's AB9 high-performance AI chip, which is an NPU that emulates the neural networks of a human brain."