Monday, August 19, 2019

Samsung electronics accounts for 20 percent of Korea's exports

As reported in The Korea Joongang Daily, Samsung Electronics has steadily increased its dominance in Korea's manufacturing and export-led economy since 1980.  During the first half of this year the company accounted for 20 percent, or fully one fifth  of South Korea's exports. (click on the graphic for a full size version) 
The Korea Joongang Daily article noted that "In its semi-annual report released Wednesday, the electronics giant’s sales from January to June stood at 75.19 trillion won ($67.13 billion). Domestic sales totaled 10.52 trillion won, accounting for 14 percent of entire sales, while the company raised 64.67 trillion won overseas in the same period. Samsung Electronics’ overseas sales account for more than 20 percent of Korea’s estimated 271 billion dollars of exports reported by the Korea International Trade Association."  During the first half of 2019 the America's replaced China as the largest source of export sales, reportedly due to the trade war between the U.S. and China.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Korea's continuing lead in speed

OpenSignal is out with a new report that compares smart phone user experiences across 73 countries.   As shown in the graphic at left (click for a full size version), South Korea continues to have the world's fastest mobile networks, as measured by both average upload and download speed using a high tier smartphone.
In making such cross-country comparisons it is well to keep in mind that these are averages and don't represent the user experience in any particular part of the nation.   The local press in Korea these days is full of reports about consumer disappointment with the actual speeds they experience with new 5G phones.  One reason is that the buildout for 5G networks is concentrated initially in the nation's larger cities.  Even in urban area, signal strength inside buildings is a challenge that requires additional network infrastructure.  Things will get better, but it will take time. The project to complete Korea's 5G networks will go on for several years.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Second edition of Digital Development in Korea published

I'm pleased to report that the second edition of Digital Development in Korea, sub-titled Lessons for a Sustainable World  has been published on schedule by Routledge. (click to see a full size version of the cover)  You can find out more about the book, including a Google Books preview, on the Routledge website here.  Another option among many is Amazon, at this hyperlink.
I've posted previously on some of the background for both editions of  this book and my reasons for working with Dr. Oh on it.  (see these posts)  The modern history of how Korea's ICT sector came to lead its economic development from 1980 to the present is a remarkable story.  Dr. Oh's willingness to work with me on telling this story will no doubt contribute to an accurate historical account.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Korean reaction to trade dispute with Japan

As shown in this chart published by Statista, (click on it for a full size version) the Korean public has had an immediate and overwhelmingly negative response to Japan's announcement of restrictions on the export to Korea of materials essential for the manufacture of semiconductors, displays and smart phones. Japan controls a dominant share of the global market for these materials, while the Korean companies  have a similar dominant presence in the global market for semiconductors (Samsung and SK Hynix), displays (Samsung and LG) and smart phones (Samsung, LG).  Consequently, the dispute could have a big negative effect on global supply chains for these essential electronics products. 
As reported by Statista,"According to reporting by The Korea Times and The Guardian, supermarkets and travel agents in South Korea reported sales losses from around 10 percent for Japanese Natto, a fermented soybean product, up to a decrease of 70 percent in travel bookings from Korea to Japan. Half of those who have booked a Japanese vacation are also currently canceling.
Some stores in Korea have cleared their shelves of Japanese products altogether and there have been reports of gas stations refusing to fill up Japanese model cars. Beer was also on the hitlist, with shops reporting sales losses of up to 40 percent for Japanese companies."

Monday, July 15, 2019

Japan trade dispute reveals risks of over-dependence on ICT hardware manufacturing

On July 1 Japan announced that it would tighten restrictions on the export to Korea of three materials that are essential for the manufacture of semiconductors, displays and smart phones.  The materials are are fluorinated polyimide, high-purity hydrogen fluoride, and photoresist.  As widely reported in the Korean press, Japan controls a dominant share of the global market for  these materials.
Regardless of how this trade dispute may be resolved, it illustrates a topic of concern in this blog, namely Korea's heavy dependence on manufacture and export of hardware versus software and services.  For example, see these posts.