Sunday, November 5, 2017

North and South Korea both developing ICBMs?

These days the global mainstream media are full of stories about North Korea's efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead too the continental United States.  However, as noted in a recent article in The Korea Times, South Korea is also working on ICBMs, but of a different type.  The first time I recall hearing about this was in a speech given at an international conference in Daejeon by former KAIST president Sung Mo Kang.  He used the acronym ICBM to refer to Internet of things, cloud computing, big data and mobile technologies, just as The Korea Times article notes. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Is Korea losing the race to build a green Internet?

Greenpeace has just published the 2017 edition of its series entitled Clicking clean:  Who is winning the race to build a green Internet The report contains interesting data on the proportion of global electricity consumption accounted for by the ICT sector, scorecards rating companies on their adoption of renewable energy, and a section on Asia which compares China, South Korea and Taiwan.  As shown in the graphic at left, (click for a full size version) only 1% of Korea's energy mix is currently renewable, compared with 5% in China and 4.2% in Taiwan.
Another interesting graphic  (shown at left--click for larger version)from the 2017 Greenpeace report compares the electricity consumption of the IT sector with that of major countries, as measured in billion kWh.  Those interested in where South Korea and its leading ICT sector companies stand in relation to other countries and global trends would do well to read this 2017 report.

The soaring costs of climate change

This week and next the students in my course on ICT for Sustainable Development are doing a big data and data visualization assignment.  Here is an interesting infographic published by Statista based on The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change.  Explore the data in more depth and see where Korea fits in the regional and global picture at The Lancet's interactive infographic at this link.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The sources of Samsung's record-breaking profits

An article in The Korea Joongang Daily today sheds more light on the sources of record-breaking sales and profits at Samsung Electronics.  (click on the graphic for a full size version)  As shown in the graphic, device solutions including semiconductors and displays were the dominant source of operating profit, followed by IT and mobile communications, which includes mobile phones.
The article noted that "Revenue from Samsung’s semiconductor division amounted to 19.91 trillion won, while operating profit reached 9.96 trillion won. The figures translate to an operating profit-to-sales ratio of roughly 50 percent, breaking a 45.7 percent record reached during the second quarter.
“As businesses that require high-capacity memory chips such as cloud and artificial intelligence services continue to expand rapidly, prices of premium chips are soaring high,” said Song Yong-ho, a professor of electronic engineering at Hanyang University."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Semiconductors, Korea's lead export, are like rice

I am told that back in the late 1970s when Korea's world-leading semiconductor industry was only a vision and long-term goal, policymakers and industry leaders referred to semiconductors (also called chips) as "rice" (쌀 in Korean as in the phrase
‘전자산업의 쌀’ 반도체). The purpose of the metaphor was to convey that semiconductors would be, like rice, a staple commodity. 
Today, there is abundant evidence that chips are a staple of the burgeoning global ICT sector. As reported this week by The Korea Times, they are now Korea's leading export, comprising 16 percent of 2017 exports. The dominance of semiconductors in Korea's export-led economy is illustrated in the accompanying graphic (click for a full size version), published in an article last month by The Korea Herald. As this article notes, commodity markets have their ups and downs and so there is risk in over-reliance on the semiconductor sector. There would be a similar risk if this nation were so heavily dependent on the export of rice.