Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Year-end 2017 interview on TBSeFM

Last month I was interviewed on TBS eFM, a 24 hour all English radio station in Seoul.  The interview was part of the #Media in Check feature of the Weekly Review program hosted by Walter Foreman, who was joined by Jennifer Jin.   The discussion ranged over a number of media topics, including fake news and social media.  For those of you who may be interested, this file contains a copy of the interview which was broadcast on the last day of 2017.  Enjoy.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Network-centric digital development in Korea: An Update

With the PyeongChang Winter Olympics set to open in just over a month (note the bobsled in the accompanying graphic!) it is highly appropriate that my first post of 2018 deals with Korea's continued network-centric approach to digital development.
The network centric approach is nothing new for South Korea having originated with the start of the digital era in Korea way back in 1980-81.  For those readers interested in more detail,my article entitled "Network Centric Digital Development in Korea: Origins, Growth and Prospects?" was published recently by Telecommunications Policy as part of a special edition for the 40th anniversary of the journal.  It should be downloadable free of charge for another week or two at this link, courtesy of the journal.
The emphasis on building fast, state of the art networks as a core element of Korea's ICT sector policy shows no signs of abating any time soon. As reported by The Korea Bizwire and other local press, the Korean government and industry are planning major investments in 5G network infrastructure in 2018, on the order of $9 billion.  This should come a no surprise given the following realities.

  • KT, the official communications provider for the PyeongChang Olympics has promised, from the start, to provide a "5G Olympics," as discussed in this post.   The broader political, economic and technological significance of the Olympics to Korea was a subject of many posts over recent years.
  • Korea's commitment to building 5G infrastructure coincides with a similar government policy to build the world's first nationwide public safety LTE networks, a topic also discussed in several earlier posts.  Consequently, it was no coincidence that Korea chose to build the first phase of its public safety networks in PyeongChang, to meet both the networking demands of the Olympic games and the requirements of PS-LTE networks while taking advantage of the Olympics as a showcase for the world to see Korea's network technology in action.
  • The ITU is scheduled to make a final decision on global standards for 5G networks in 2020.  Korean companies have been active with international partners and standards organizations.  As noted in The Korea Times last September have "bet big on 5G global standards."

Friday, December 29, 2017

"Fourth Industrial Revolution" fever in Korea

In mid October I posted about Korea's seeming preoccupation with the "Fourth Industrial Revolution," a concept introduced at the World Economic Forum in 2016 by Klaus Schwab and outlined in a small book published that same year.  I should have noted that a few days earlier President Moon Jae-In had officially launched the Presidential Fourth Industrial Revolution Committee.   In doing so, as reported on Korea.net, he emphasized a "people-centered fourth industrial revolution."
Whether we are indeed in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution, or as Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Third Industrial Revolution argues, we are still early in a third such revolution, Korea has latched onto the concept.
As evidence, note the accompanying graphic (click for a full size version) from an article in the Korea Joongang Daily, entitled "R&D Policy Stresses Connectivity."  It starts with a list of "Major government goals for the fourth industrial revolution" all of which relate to digital networks and related digital technologies.   This short blog post is not the place to get into an in-depth analysis of why and whether we are in the third or fourth industrial revolution, but I believe that all who seek to better understand the contemporary digital revolution need to address such questions.  That will be one focus of my teaching and research in 2018.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Asia, including Korea, going mad for Ripple Coin?

An interesting article in Forbes describing a new crypto currency that is generating a great deal of interest in Asia, including Korea.  It notes that "Ripple (XRP), a top five cryptocurrency with a whopping $46.2 billion market cap, is up 57.2% on Thursday, beating every major crypto coin out there and surpassing $1 for the first time, based on Coin Market Cap data. The company said last week that a coalition of 61 banks in Japan, organized by SBI Ripple Asia in Tokyo, will launch a new digital payments systems pilot program with Woori Bank and Shinhan Bank of South Korea using the Ripple blockchain network. "People feel comfortable with its name and the technology behind Ripple," says Trevor Koverko, CEO of Polymath, a blockchain platform for startups looking to launch their own cryptocurrencies."

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The future of nuclear energy

At a recent international conference hosted here in Incheon, I had the privilege of sitting next to a Swedish expert on renewable energy at the opening dinner. Early in our conversation he said, to the best of my recollection, "The nuclear power industry cannot earn enough future profits to pay for both the decommissioning of power plants and the disposal of nuclear waste."  It appears that Korea's leadership has recognized this reality and is acting upon it, according to an article in The Korea Joongang Daily.  In fact, "nuclear dismantling industries" appear to be a growth industry.