Monday, September 30, 2013

Future Ministry launches new "Creative Economy Town" website

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning has just launched a new "Creative Economy Town" website, as reported by The Korea Herald and other media.  The site, at is aimed at helping people with advice and information on how to flesh out their ideas and technologies into a business.  To date, the site is only available in the Korean language, but it looks interesting.  It definitely appears to be a step, here in Korea, toward open innovation through sharing in the Korean language.  Ultimately, how it relates to similar efforts in English and other languages will be interesting.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Korean Webtoon market to triple by 2015

A very interesting article appeared in The Korea Times, indicating the tremendous growth of Korea's domestic webtoons market, following the introduction of smartphones in 2009. The article stated that "Korea’s webtoon market will nearly triple to 295 billion won ($272 million) in 2015 with the wider use of smartphones and other mobile gadgets, compared to 100 billion won in 2012, said a report released by the KT Economic Research Institute." “One out of three Koreans connect to a website showing online cartoons almost on a daily basis, and an increasing number of moviegoers buy tickets for webtoon-based movies,” Kim Jae-pil said in the KT report. The KT Korean language report is accessible at if you register for membership. It contained the accompanying graphic (click to see a full size version) for which I translated the title and some labels.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Globalizing the Kaesong Industrial Complex: Telecommunications at center of discussions

News that North and South Korea have agreed to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex is making the rounds in mainstream media around the world, and the latest reports have made it apparent that agreement about the use of modern digital communications and the internet are at the center of discussions about stabilizing and globalizing the complex.  This is not at all surprising.   When originally established, the Kaesong Industrial Zone was located just across the DMZ north of Seoul, and close to the new Incheon International Airport and the nearby "ubiquitous networked city" of Songdo.  The Zone is shaded in pink on the accompanying map (source: Wikipedia, click on the map to see a full size version)  This choice of location was deliberate as the Incheon area was planned for development as a large seaport, airport and teleport complex.
In addition to the main issue of guaranteeing the safety of South Korean workers who enter and sojourn in the Kaesong complex, North and South Korean representatives are reportedly discussing internet access, mobile communication and the introduction of an RFID (radio frequency identity tags) entrance system for the complex.  According to The Hankyoreh,"In terms of mobile communication such as cell phones, one remaining technical problem is how to bridge the gap between the Orascom mobile communication method used in North Korea and the mobile communication method used by South Korean companies such as KT Telecom and SK Telecom."
Finally, it is striking that the Kaesong Industrial Region anchors North Korea's side of the DMZ in the West, while the Diamond Mountain resort complexes, also operated by Hyundai Asan, are just north of the DMZ on Korea's east coast.  It is more than mere coincidence that, in the current North-South negotiations, success with the Kaesong complex has been linked to discussions about reopening tours to Daimond Mountain.  Even without any agreement on co-hosting certain events in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics, Diamond Mountain tours and skiing at the new Masik ski resort in North Korea could be expected to thrive in conjunction with the Olympics.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Building America's Information Superhighways: a brief review of US broadband policy"--September 6 presentation at APrIGF conference

Here is a link to my presentation, starting with the introduction by Professor Rhee.  I'll also share this via Twitter and Facebook.

Building America's information superhighways:  a brief review of US broadband policy

Presentation at the "Broader world of network:  giga internet" session of the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum, SUNY Korea Songdo, September 6, 2013 by James F. Larson, Visiting Professor, KAIST Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy.

The emerging world of giga-internet: the APrIGF conference in Songdo yesterday

Yesterday I spent the morning through mid-afternoon with participants in a giga-internet session at the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum (APrIGF) in Songdo.  The presentation was organized by the National Information Society Agency under the auspices of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.   It involved presentations about progress in giga-internet infrastructure and policy in the United States(my presentation), Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea.
The entire APrIGF conference was streamed live over the internet from the gleaming new campus of SUNY Korea (한국뉴욕주립대학교). This was my first visit to the international campus section of the Songdo development, and I couldn't help but notice Yonsei University's large building complex right across the street from the SUNY Korea campus.  It is no easy thing building a new city from scratch, the "greenfield" as opposed to "brownfield" approach to creating a smart city, but clearly Songdo is on its way.
This morning, over coffee, I had a chance to view my own presentation, which is available at this hyperlink courtesy of Ustream TV.  My presentation, entitled "Building America's Information Superhighways:  A Brief Review of U.S. Broadband Policy," starting with the moderator's introduction, runs from about 8:43 to 31.22 on the online recording.  If you happen to view this presentation, comments are welcome.
For those of you with an in-depth interest in different national approaches to infrastructure, use and policies for ultra-fast, giga-internet, I recommend viewing the entire session.  It provides a rich, current glimpse into how leading Asian countries are approaching the challenge.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

North Korean participation in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics?

This morning while fixing my breakfast coffee I heard a story on YTN television news that dealt with the possibility of North Korea hosting a skiing event during the forthcoming 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.   The story has also received coverage in the press, including The Korea Herald.  Reportedly, a North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee suggested that the Masik ski resort, now under construction in North Korea, could possibly hold Olympic events once it is completed.  Not surprisingly, this news elicited an immediate response from the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee indicating that it would be "impossible" to split Olympic skiing events with North Korea, according to rules in the Olympic charter. However, as The Korea Herald goes on to point out, the ultimate authority in such a matter is the International Olympic Committee IOC.  Furthermore, as with the Seoul Olympics in 1988, the IOC will undoubtedly take an active interest in the possibility that North Korea will not only participate but might take a more active role in the Olympics.  The negotiations between North and South Korea about possible co-hosting of the 1988 Seoul Olympics are discussed in some detail in my book, with Heung-Soo Park, Global Television and the Politics of the Seoul Olympics, which is available full-text on Google books (if you're interested, read the section on "The Negotiations with North Korea," pp. 178-182)
With the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics only a little more than four years off, it is not at all surprising that ideas about co-hosting are surfacing.  Consider the broader context in which North and South Korea are reportedly discussing ways to "globalize" the Kaesong Industrial complex, the resumption of reunion visits for divided families, and President Park Geun-hye's public embrace of the notion of a DMZ Peace Park.   I've posted earlier, including one entry in January of this year, on how these developments relate to the forthcoming Olympics.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Seoul's cyber subways

Yesterday I had occasion to make the one-hour trip from Daejon to Seoul by KTX, and traveled from Seoul Station to Yeoksam Station in Gangnam for my meeting and lunch appointment.  Although this is anecdotal evidence, I wanted to share my observations, especially with those of you who have not visited Korea.  In the first subway car, on Line 2 (the green line) most of the seats were full and all but two of three of the passengers were using their smartphones, most with earphones attached.  I observed the same thing on my return trip.   What accounts for this near-universal use of mobile networks on the Seoul Subway?   There are several factors including,

  • Some people are watching free digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) television on their handsets, a common feature in South Korea since 2005.
  • Some consumers are connecting to the internet via an LTE or LTE-A connection, since penetration of these mobile technologies in Korea leads the world.
  • The major mobile service providers in South Korea (KT, SKT and LGU+) each offer their own version of data plans that allow subscribers free access to WiFi.
Of course, I enjoyed free Wi-Fi access to the internet on the KTX train while traveling to and from Seoul, and observed most people making use of the connection with their phones, tablets and notebook computers.