Monday, January 31, 2011

Hardware vs. Software: Korea's Growing Dependence on Manufacturing

The Joongang Daily and other media are reporting today on a new Bank of Korea report that shows Korea's increasing dependence on its manufacturing sector over the past nine years.  (Click on the accompanying graphic to see a full size version)  Last year the manufacturing industry created total value worth $257.4 billion, or 30.6 percent of the country's total.  This represented the first time that the percentage from manufacturing exceeded 30 percent and it was also a significant increase over earlier years.
In terms of the focus of this blog, it is significant that Korea's manufacturing industries are led by electronics.  In other words, these figures reflect a heavy reliance on the manufacture of semiconductors, mobile handsets, flat screen television sets and computer monitors and other electronic components.  This compares with relatively small production of software and content, which comprises by far the bulk of the global ICT industry.  The Bank of Korea also reported that last year's exports tied to the manufacturing sector were 5.6 times greater than exports by the service sector.
According to an official from the Knowledge Economy Ministry, “There is a need to develop high-value service sectors such as medical, information technology, finance and insurance in addition to low-value service sectors such as retail and lodging.”

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Speed: The Giga-Korea Project

Recent posts have noted South Korea's continued world leadership in broadband internet connection speeds, and its demonstration outside the lab of a new, fast advanced-LTE technology.  To place this country's emphasis on internet speed, present and future, in context one needs to consider the newly-announced Giga-Korea project.  Under the banner of "Giga Korea," both the private and public sectors will push ahead with a mega-scale network R&D plan from 2012 to 2020. By means of it, the government intends to turn Korea into the country where the world’s finest mobile telecom service is provided.
As reported by The Electronic Times, the KCC (Korea Communications Commission) and Knowledge Economy Ministry announced the three-phased blueprint to achieve mobile communication leadership for the future on January 26. The participants, including several other ministries, are going to come up with the relevant details by the middle of this year. The total budget for the project amounts to 10 trillion won.

NationwideTest of State-run English Exam

As reported in The Korea Times, a pilot test for the National English Ability Test or NEAT was held in Seoul and 17 cities across the nation on Saturday.  The domestic test, designed to compete with TOEIC and TOEFL, will officially start next year and the government hopes that it will be used as key data for universities and companies to recruit students and employees.  A total of 4,000 applicants took the test, which consisted of four sections -- reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking and writing.  NEAT offers three levels of tests, one for adults to evaluate business skills, and the other two for  high school students. The tests have been developed by the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Korea University, Seoul National University, Sookmyung Women’s University and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Employment Effects of Mobile Broadband Boom in Korea

An article in The Korea Times caught my eye this morning.  Entitled "Mobile boom proving as economic catalyst?" it offered some details about the impact of the current mobile broadband boom and "smartphone shock," on employment patterns in South Korea.  In particular, government figures show that the number of creative one-person enterprises in the country increased sharply last year on the strength of the explosion in internet devices and content.  According to the Small and Medium Business Administration (SMBA), the nation's one-man enterprises reached 235,000 in 2010, up 15.7 percent from the preceding year, and the number accounts for about 1 percent of the economically active population.
The number of people who want to develop applications has been on the increase, said an instructor at a local information technology educational institution, which offers an education service on applications. Reportedly, those who are familiar with computer programming can develop an application after a one-month course.
The government report also said that more than 60 percent of those who established one-man creative enterprises had earned bachelor's degrees or higher academic qualifications.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Korea Tests Operational 4G Mobile System

Korea has become the first country in the world to demonstrate a high-capacity, super speed mobile telecommunications system outside of laboratory conditions.  As reported by Yonhap, the state-run Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) tested a Long-Term Evolution Advanced (LTE-Advanced) system. The accompanying photo of the test was published in The Korea Herald. (click to see a larger version)The technology acquired meets 95 percent of the requirements needed for a functional 4G mobile communications system, he said, adding technologies not yet developed must wait for the creation of a worldwide standard on 4G telecommunications that is expected to be set by the International Telecommunication Union in April.  The research took over five years and cost ETRI an estimated 64 billion won (53 million dollars) to complete.  According to Yonhap, ETRI reported acquiring 24 patents related to LTE-Advanced and has applied for intellectual property protection on 500 processes learned during the research and development stage. South Korean companies may hold least 23 percent of all patent rights on 4G communications technology, up from 19 percent for 3.9G and 10 percent for 3G wideband code division multiple access, it added.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Korea Still Has the World's Fastest Internet

Akamai is about to release another of its quarterly "State of the Internet" reports and it shows that South Korea continues to have the world's highest average internet access speeds, and by quite some margin.  As noted in a report by Fortune magazine, South Koreans hook into the internet at an average speed of 14 megabits per second, or seven times the global average.  We visited the topic of internet speed in a post last month.  As MikeinSeoul noted in his comments, the relatively small geographical size of Korea has something to do with these speeds.  Along with its mountainous geography and relatively small size, South Korea is highly urbanized with a very large proportion of the population living in high rise apartment complexes that are connected to the nationwide fiber optic networks.
Having reiterated this much, there is more to the Korean story than simply its size and geographic advantages.  South Korea is slightly larger than the state of Indiana, yet it has much faster internet connection speeds than Indiana.  My forthcoming book with Dr. OH, Myung, Digital Development in Korea:  Building an Information Society, addresses some of the reasons why Korea today possesses such advanced and fast digital networks.  Policies and persistent long term investment in building networks clearly had something to do with it, and they began back in the early 1980s.
For the fun of it, I just did two speed tests, using the tool that is freely available on  The first (results in the top graphic) showed the speed of my connection from rural Gangwon Province to a server in Seoul.  The second tested the upload and download speed to a server in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Just thought some of you might be interested.  (Click on either of the graphics to enlarge.)

An Interesting Bit of Information about North Korean Telecommunications

Bits and pieces of information are about all that one receives about the state of telecommunications networks in North Korea.   However, it was very interesting to read that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has recently met with and hosted a dinner for Naguib Sawiris, Chairman and CEO of Orascom Telecom, which has been providing mobile phone service in the North in cooperation with a local company since 2008.  The official North Korean news agency, according to reported that Kim "warmly welcomed his DPRK (North Korea) visit taking place at a time when Orascom's investment is making successful progress in different fields of the DPRK, including telecommunications." Orascom said last year that mobile phone subscriptions in North Korea had more than quadrupled in the space of a year -- to 301,199 by the end of September 2010 from 69,261 a year earlier.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

iPhone "Invasion" of South Korea? Some Background

The Los Angeles Times story entitled "Apple's iPhone is Invading South Korea, home of Samsung's Galaxy S," is getting quite a bit of attention these days, at least in the blogosphere.  It will not surprise readers of this blog that I cannot resist commenting on the article.  For one thing, the "invasion" is already over, having taken place more than a year ago.  Just use the search feature to the right and enter "iPhone" and you'll see that I began posting on this topic back in 2008, over a year before the iPhone finally arrived here.  By that time, it had become very apparent that something was amiss in South Korea's mobile market.  It was missing out on a major global trend toward mobile broadband, epitomized by the Apple iPhone.  Even when the iPhone finally arrived in South Korea near the end of 2009, there was another months-long delay before Android-based phones began to appear.
So, it is difficult to conceive of the Apple iPhone's entry into the Korean market as described in the L.A. Times article as a "bold offensive by a foreign competitor invading its lucrative home turf with a breakthrough product."   In fact, the iPhone arrived in Korea about two and a half years after its introduction in the United States!
Some of the reasons why it took so long for the iPhone to reach this market have been explored in earlier posts on this blog.  However, it is now safe to suggest that this delay did not necessarily work toward the best overall interests of either consumers here or the large mobile handset manufacturers like Samsung and LG.  In fact, as noted in an earlier post, Korean exports of mobile handsets took a huge hit because of the delayed transition to smart phones.  Of course, the drop in exports was partly compensated for by the fact that most of the high value-added parts in the iPhone are manufactured by Korean companies.
In late 2009 when the iPhone arrived in the Korean market, many industry estimates suggested that there might be 700,000 or even a million customers for the new phone.  In fact two million iPhone handsets have been sold in just over a year since its introduction.
The larger impact of the iPhone in Korea can only be understood by looking at the broad transition that is now underway here toward mobile broadband.  In important respects, this development was artificially delayed by the obstacles that prevented a more timely arrival of the iPhone and Android phones.  Clear evidence of the rapid transition to mobile broadband can be found in various places, including the rapid uptake of Facebook and Twitter here, as touched on recently.
Many in Korea, perhaps led by top executives of KT, would suggest that the arrival of the iPhone and the accompanying "smartphone shock" were less of an invasion than a blessing or "wakeup call" for South Korea's market and its exporters.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Korean Social Networking Trends in the Smartphone Era

This is a follow-on to the previous post and earlier posts about social networking in Korea.  The Joongang Daily has an interesting article with data from Metrix showing what happened to social network service traffic in Korea during the year following arrival of the Apple iPhone and the so-called "smart phone shock" here.  As shown in the accompanying graphic (click on it to see a larger version), although Korea's homegrown Cyworld still has far more members than Facebook or Twitter, the latter two services have relatively more pageviews---many more per user!
There are several main reasons for the relative success of Facebook and Twitter in the face of a well-established Cyworld that was already dominant in the Korean market and had operated here for nearly half a decade before Facebook was even invented in the U.S.   First, Cyworld was designed as a Korean language service, with Korean users in mind.   It failed in its efforts to penetrate such international markets as the U.S., Germany, Taiwan and Japan.  Second, while Facebook and Twitter took advantage of the mobile broadband and smartphone revolution, Cyworld neglected Apple's iPhone and the new Android phones, instead concentrating on the outmoded Windows mobile platform.  Finally, the internet is inherently a global phenomenon.  Such SNS services as Facebook and Twitter allow networking throughout the world, across most national borders.  As the Joongang Daily article points out, Cyworld's image of being a Korean company rather than an international one was a big obstacle.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Twitter Now Available in Hangul 트위터 한국어 서비스 시작

As reported in the Joongang Daily and widely noted elsewhere, Twitter has launched a Korean-language service, with some fanfare.  The co-founder of Twitter held a press conference in Seoul to announce this development.
As readers of this blog are well aware, I'm very interested in the role of language in Korea's remarkable digital development.  If you are new and doubt this, just do a search for "language" using the Search This Blog feature to the right and see how many entries turn up!  Or, consider the following.

  • South Korea is the world's most highly networked nation, yet it is also one of four countries in the world where Google does not have a substantial share of the search market.  Why?  Because of the strength of Naver, which is a Korean-developed, Korean-language-based intranet of sorts. (see one of many earlier posts).
  • Language was a major factor in explaining the long-delayed arrival of the Apple iPhone in the South Korean market.  In important respects, it is only because of the "iPhone shock" or, more broadly the "smartphone shock" that Facebook and Twitter are gaining market share here.  However, Cyworld remains by far the dominant social networking service in the Korean market, in no small part because it is a Korean-language service, designed from the ground up for a Korean market.
Despite the phenomenal growth of the internet and the emergence of "smart" digital media, language remains a basic element of communication flows and patterns, and nowhere is this more evident than inside Korea and among Koreans worldwide.  The surprising element is that so many non-Korean companies actually think they can succeed in Korea while using only English or other languages.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Personal Privacy Concerns in the Information Age

As reported in the Joongang Daily, the Korea Communications Commission yesterday gave the public some advice on how to use social networking services in ways that protect private information.  The Commission cited a recent study by the Korea Internet and Security Agency, some findings of which are summarized in the accompanying graphic (click to enlarge the graphic).  This marks the first time a government agency has officially acknowledged the privacy issues posed by such social networking services as Facebook, Twitter and Me2Day.
The KCC’s 10-point guideline advised users to set security and privacy settings on networks to the appropriate level; to agree to be connected with people only when you are certain who they are; and logging out when you're not using the SNS. It also warned users about publishing personal information that may be used by advertisers and marketers for targeted advertising. It reminded users that once they upload postings, they can be widely distributed through other Web sites without the user’s knowledge.

Content Providers vs. Platform Providers in Korea's "Media Big Bang"

As noted in an earlier post and widely covered in the press, many in South Korea are expecting a "Media Big Bang" after the recent awarding of broadcasting rights to new business entities.  Much of the focus in discussions of the "Big Bang" prospect has been on the nation's large newspaper groups and terrestrial broadcasters.  However, as noted by an interesting article in The Korea Times, the recent legal changes and new licenses may herald a new era in which content providers, such as the CJ Group (click on the graphic to see full-size version), may be the big winners, rather than the platform providers (newspaper and television groups) that have dominated in the past.  The article notes the increasing number of outlets or channels for content, with the rise of the smartphone, tablets and the continued convergence of digital media.  The increasing number of channels or "platforms," the argument goes, will only increase the demand for content.  Along with these developments, there has been a notable increase in the viewership of pay television in Korea.  Currently, more than 80 percent of Korean households subscribe to some form of pay-television service. And pay-television’s overall share in viewership rose from 21.5 percent in 2000 to 41.1 percent last year.
According to industry observers, for the four new comprehensive television channels to survive, each must secure advertising revenue of about 500 billion won per year.   As the article notes, this is the real question, especially in an export-dependent economy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

South Korean Director Creates a Film with The iPhone 4

One of South Korea's well known film directors, Park Chan-wook, has created a 30 minute fantasy film entitled "Paranmanjang," (Ups and Downs) using the iPhone 4.  It is receiving quite a bit of publicity, including a recent article in the Los Angeles Times.  Park first achieved fame in 2000 with his film "Joint Security Area."  The idea arose last fall just as he and his brother (and fellow director) Park Chan-kyong were set to begin filming a fantasy about a middle-aged fisherman who one day hauls a woman out of the water's depths. That's when South Korea's exclusive iPhone distributor offered to finance the $130,000 project if the pair agreed to use the device to make a theater-quality film.
This is an interesting story indeed.  On the one hand, it illustrates a certain Korean willingness to use and experiment with new communication technologies.  On the other hand it shows that, at least in certain niches, Korea may have its own strengths in the creation of media content.  The nation is frequently criticized for being relatively weak in content creation, while strong in manufacturing and hardware.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another Thought on Service and After-Service in Korea

As readers will know from earlier posts, I've been quite happy with Korea Telecom's service out in rural Gangwon Province.  The other day I had another experience.   Our fiber to the home service and IPTV are working fine.  However, the ten year old (or more) large screen television suddenly sent dark the other day.  My wife called Samsung AS, and with an hour a technician had visited our house and repaired the part that had caused the problem, all for the total of 90,000 won.  I'm still thinking occasionally about this.  It was less than one hour from the time we called until the repair had been finished.  Granted, the technician was luckily in our area when he was contacted, but still.....

Sunday, January 9, 2011

North and South Korea Skirmish in Cyberspace

As reported by Yonhap News, in a story that is likely to get wide international exposure, hackers (reportedly South Korean) have breached North Korea's official Twitter and YouTube accounts.  Moreover, as The Washington Post noted, they did so on the birthday of heir apparent, Kim Jong Eun.  North Korea's use of Twitter and YouTube was noted in earlier posts and today's news is just the latest evidence that the two nations are taking their conflict into the realm of cyberspace.
Put on the North's YouTube account as early as Friday, a two-minute-long animation depicted Kim Jong-un as a ruthless killer driving a sports car and teasing his father to buy him fancy birthday gifts. On Twitter, the North's account -- which normally carried tweets praising Kim Jong-il and denouncing South Korea and the United States -- sent out feeds that called on North Koreans to rise against the Kim dynasty and put an end to poverty.
The high-tech war of nerves involving South Korean hackers, if confirmed, could indicate a new phase in the long running rivalry between North and South Korea.  Yonhap reported that one South Korean user wrote on Nate, another internet portal, that "we have done what our defense ministry was unable to do."  Others hailed the hacking as retaliation for North Korea's recent artillery attack on a South Korean island in the West Sea.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Korea's IT Exports Hit All Time Record in 2010

As reported by the Joongang Daily, Korea's IT exports hit an all time record of $153.9 billion, more than double the volume of IT exports in 2003.  The nation's trade surplus in the information technology sector was also a record at $78.2 billion.   Semiconductor exports were the single biggest export item for South Korea, totaling $50.7 billion.   Exports of flat screens reached $33.8 billion dollars, making them the fourth largest export item, following ships and automobiles.  Exports of televisions increased 42.6 percent to $7.4 billion.  Despite a late-year surge in exports of smart phones, overall exports of mobile phones decreased by 13.7 percent during the year, but they still totaled $24.7 billion.
Ministry of Knowledge Economy sources are predicting that IT exports will increase between five and ten percent this year and reach $160 billion.  Further evidence that the ICT sector and certain key technologies that anchor the information age are the main drivers of South Korea's export-led economy.

National Police Agency Says Google Illegally Collected Private Data

The National Police Agency's cybercrime unit yesterday said they found evidence that Google illegally collected private data while producing its street view mapping service in Korea.  As reported in the Joongang Daily, police last August confiscated 79 hard disks at Google's Seoul office in Yeoksam-dong. After decoding passwords on the disks, which took several months, “We discovered e-mails and online chats individuals exchanged through [unencrypted] Wi-Fi networks,” said a police official.  The police have been investigating 10 Google employees in Korea and the United States.  Similar investigations are taking place in the U.S., Canada, Spain, Australia and Germany.  According to The Guardian, investigations are underway in 20 countries around the world.  Google started collecting street images in Korea in October 2009 using SUVs equipped with nine cameras, similar to the one shown in the accompanying graphic from The Guardian.
Google said it was "profoundly sorry" for mistakenly collecting the so-called "payload" data and vowed to continue to cooperate with South Korean authorities. "As soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all Wi-Fi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities," Google's Korean arm said.

International Long Distance Growth Slumps, While Skype Soars

Telegeography has an interesting report, with the accompanying bar chart (click to see a larger version of the graphic), showing recent trends in the annual growth of international long distance (ILD) service versus Skype.  Keep in mind that these are growth rates, and not actual growth, or volume of traffic.  International long distance services continue to grow, but at a much slower rate.  As the graphic clearly shows, the crossover point at which Skype's growth exceeded ILD was in 2009.  That was also the year that "smart phone shock" hit South Korea and mobile broadband continued its rapid diffusion worldwide.  Skype and similar services are even more convenient when loaded on a mobile device.  These developments clearly portend a future in which the majority of people will prefer VOIP services like Skype for most of their voice communication.  One of my friends who works in the communications field just wrote me that he's been happily using Skype for seven years now.  Of course, you can't beat the cost of Skype-to-Skype calls!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Samsung to Supply LCDs for iPad 2

Amid all of the industry speculation about the size, features and launch date for the second generation Apple iPad, one thing seems certain.  As reported in The Korea Times, Samsung will provide some 8 million LCD panels for the new device.  The display panel is the single most expensive item in a tablet computer and the whole deal is reportedly worth $500 million, with the possibility that there could be additional orders.
According to an industry executive, speaking anonymously, Apple turned to Samsung to expand its procurement channels for displays when LG display failed to keep up with an initial order.  Apple produced 16 million iPads last year and industry officials say the next model will see even bigger annual sales of around 40 million.
I would not be surprised to see that sales projection reached or even surpassed, especially if the new iPad is thinner and lighter in weight so that it feels much like a clip-board when in use.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

North Korea's Internet Strategy

According to reports, North Korea's dot-kp top-level domain could be returning to the internet after being offline for months.  A few domain names registered under dot-kp became unavailable beginning in the third quarter of 2010 when the domain name servers responsible for them went offline.  The exact nature of the months-long outage remains unclear, but on Monday the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) pointed the domain to new servers in a first step toward bringing it back online.
Dot-kp was first assigned in 2007 to Korea Computer Center Europe, a Berlin-based offshoot of the Korea Computer Center in Pyongyang. KCC Europe operated the domain and several North Korean-related websites from servers in Germany until last year, when all went offline at about the same time. E-mail messages and phone calls to KCC Europe and Holtermann have gone unanswered. The new servers do not yet appear to be online, but IANA's records now point to North Korean Internet addresses. The servers carry the "" name, which is probably a reference to Korea Posts and Telecommunications Corp., the country's official telecommunications carrier.
These developments will bear watching as North Korea's overall strategy for use of the internet develops.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Digitally-Divided Korea

Another matter that this blog will continue to follow in 2011 is that of Korea's digital divides.   The most obvious and poignant of these, of course, is national division itself.  Because Korea was divided before the revolution in digital communications started to gather steam, the present digital divide between North and South Korea is unequalled in magnitude, scope or implications anywhere else in the world.
Western scholars and journalists have, unfortunately, been slow to recognize the extent and impact of the digital divide between North and South Korea.   I've recently been reading the important book by Pippa Norris entitled Digital Divide:  Civic Engagement, Information Poverty and the Internet Worldwide.  (see portions here on Google books)  While her book makes note of Korea here and there, it utterly fails to even describe what South Korea had already accomplished by the year it was published, 2001.  Figure 3.2 in the paperback edition of the book is a bar graph depicting the "percentage of population online by nation" in 2000.  The very top bar, unfortunately, is not labeled, and the second bar represents Sweden, followed by Norway, Iceland and so forth.   I believe the top bar represents South Korea, because in 2000 its internet penetration was number one in the world, by some margin over the Scandinavian countries that caught it a few years later.
The pattern of attention to Korea needs to change, and a December 29 article in The Economist provides some evidence that this change may be starting.  Entitled "Parallel Economies," it compares the challenge of Korean reunification with that of German reunification.  As shown in the accompanying graphic (click to see a full-size version), the economic divide between the two nations has grown to alarming proportions.  If the Korea's reunified, the South Korean government would face a stark choice.  It could try to fill the gap in living standards between North and South through handouts, public investments and subsidies, or it could brace itself for heavy migration, as poor northerners moved to the South in search of higher wages.
Although The Economist focuses on the economics of the matter, what this blog finds interesting is the crucial role played by digital media in these matters.  After all, it is through the new media that residents in the northern half of Korea find out about the South and vice-versa.  
There is some evidence emerging that the government of North Korea has recognized the central role of information technology and digital media.  As reported by the North Korea Tech blog, the KCNA, North Korea's official news agency, has just launched video news.

A Media "Big Bang" in South Korea?

As noted by an article in the Joongang Daily, it is the dawn of a new year, and with it hopes for a new era in Korea's media industry, what some are referring to as a "Media Big Bang."  On the last day of 2010, the government announced the selection of local media companies that would be allowed to operate both newspaper and broadcasting businesses for the first time in 30 years.  The so-called "Media Big Bang" is expected to involve not only traditional media, but also online and mobile businesses.
The biggest impact may be on the five companies that won the new broadcasting rights, as shown in the accompanying graphic (click to see a larger version).  There are concerns that the broadcasting sector will become overcrowded with the entry of the new competitors because the amount of advertising revenue is not seen as large enough to support all of them. However, analysts say the move is necessary to promote increased competition in a sector that has been dominated by the three terrestrial broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS. The Korea Information Society Development Institute (KISDI) said in a recent report that restricting the number of television broadcasters damaged political pluralism, referring to the fact that newspapers were banned from owning television stations in 1980 as the then-military government sought to impose greater control over the media and public opinion. “An excessive restriction on media ownership may weaken the quality of media content,” it added.

Korea's Export and ICT-Led Economy

It is January 2, but this is my first blog post of 2011.  As an industry colleague noted in a recent e-mail message to me, the world is changing fast, and IT is at the center of things.
The news about South Korea's all-time record trade surplus during 2010 is a significant piece of information about its ICT sector.  As reported by international media including Singapore's Straits Times, the nation logged a $41.7 billion trade surplus in 2010.  This raised Korea's global export ranking to seventh.
The ICT sector was at the center of this development.  The Ministry of Knowledge Economy noted that the record figures indicate the country had solid performances in many sectors including semi-conductors, automobiles, mobile communications and general machinery equipment, despite the appreciation of the Korean currency as well as the tension on the peninsula.  In addition to semiconductors and mobile communications, the display and television industries did their share to contribute to Korea's trade surplus.
There are many interesting aspects, including risks, to Korea's export-led economic growth, and this is a general topic that this blog will continue to follow in 2011.   However, at this point in time, South Korea is surfing a wave of change in the semiconductor, mobile and display industries worldwide.  The Japan Times carried an interesting article yesterday entitled "Digital age leaves myopic Japan facing manufacturing crisis."   The article noted that, in the past, Japan was able to gain market share because its products had a technological edge and their companies drew strength from vertical integration and testing in Japan's domestic market.  However, from the 1990s, the core technologies for many electronics products, including computers, TVs and DVD players went digital and with modular components.
In this new digital, modular age, Korean companies, led by Samsung and LG, but also including many SMEs and parts manufacturers, seem to be off to a very good start.