Sunday, April 23, 2017

New heights in skyscrapers

I've been to Seoul several times this year and there is a new presence in the city.  It is called the Lotte World Tower.   It not only adds a dimension to the Seoul skyline, but also sets one Korean and two world records.  First, it is the tallest skyscraper in Korea and the fifth highest in the world.  Second, it has the highest glass bottom observatory in the world, at 478 meters or 1,568 feet.  Third, it features the world's tallest and fastest double-decker elevator, called the Sky Shuttle.  For further detail, see this CNN story.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fake news: "Korea used to be part of China"

As reported widely in Korea's domestic media, including The Chosun Ilbo, U.S. President Donald Trump, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal claimed that "Korea actually used to be a part of China."  His claim was based, he said, on conversations he had with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping.
As readers of this blog will know, I've had a longstanding interest in how mainstream media cover, or do not cover, Korea and what this means for government policymaking. (see these posts, for example)   However, this comment by President Trump is still astonishing.  The truth is that the northeastern area of China used to be part of Korea.  Also, it is worth remembering that Korea's history as a unified nation state, with its own distinctive culture and language, goes back thousands of years.  Korea is not and never was a part of China, although it shares many characteristics.   Likewise, it was only a part of Japan during the first half of the 20th century because of forceful occupation.  President Trump's astonishing claim will only further cement his reputation as the source of "Fake News."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Network-centric digital development in Korea: Origins, growth and prospects

I'm pleased to announce that my article, entitled "Network-centric digital development in Korea:  Origins, growth and prospects," is in press with Telecommunications Policy and now available online at this hyperlink.  If you don't have a library or other authorized access to this journal, feel free to contact me for a PDF copy of the article.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sewol Ferry finally on land

The Sewol Ferry, which tragically sank in the Spring of 2014 is finally back on land.  The accompanying photo was published by the Korea Joongang Daily.  Hopefully this long, drawn out tragedy will soon come to an end as investigators search the vessel.  Readers of this blog will know the relevance of this story to the development of Korea's digital networks, (see prior posts) especially its public safety LTE networks, scheduled to begin operation in late 2018.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

President Park's impeachment and the future ICT policy in Korea

Yesterday Korea's constitutional court upheld the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.  Consequently, she was immediately removed from office and a snap presidential election will be held on or before May 9.
As readers of this blog will know very well, I've frequently commented on former President Park's background and her signature creative economy initiative. (For example, see these posts, and these)
The events leading to the impeachment and removal from office of President Park Geun-hye came as a surprise to me, despite the years I've lived in Korea. The situation is more complex than it may appear from mainstream news media reporting.  Former President Park did indeed major in electrical engineering at Sogang University, which helps to understand her creative economy emphasis.
As close observers of Korea well know, every presidential election is followed by a reorganization of the nation's leading ministries.  Sometimes these reorganizations are minor and sometimes sweeping, as when President Lee Myung Bak assumed office in 2008.  Further complicating matters for international observers is the re-naming of ministries along with the challenge of translating the ministry name into English.  I did a series of posts on this matter following Park Geun-hye's election as president.
The danger that the incoming administration faces, following the snap elections which will take place within 60 days, is "throwing the baby out with the bathwater," to use an old English expression.  In fact, Korea's "Future Ministry," named the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning in English, has done a number of worthwhile things, including the establishment of 18 Centers for Creative Economy and Innovation (CCEIs) throughout Korea.  More importantly, it brought the former Ministry of Science and Technology under one roof with the Ministry of Information and Communications.  After all, the main technology driving changes in the world today is digital technology, allowing dramatic increases in the human ability to store, compute and communicate information on a global or even inter planetary scale.
Given the rapid pace of digital development, globally and in Korea it would seem that the incoming administration might be well advised to keep those elements of the Park Geun-hye administration policies that are realistic and forward looking, and avoid the temptation to throw everything out and start again.  This is especially crucial given the widespread recognition that Korea needs to make the transition from heavy reliance on hardware manufacturing and export to software and services.