Monday, November 19, 2007

My Interest in Korea's Information Society: 1

I first set foot on Korean soil in February of 1971, arriving at Kimpo Airport in Seoul as an American Peace Corps Volunteer. Our group, designated as K-16, came to teach English at universities and colleges around the country. I was assigned to the English Education Department of Kangwon National University in Chuncheon. Among the many things I learned in two years of life in Korea was that telephone service and telecommunications in general were primitive. Simply making a long-distance call to Seoul required a walk from the building housing English Education to the main administration building, where we would be permitted to use a black telephone in a certain Dean’s office. During my two years with the Peace Corps I heard so many Koreans shouting into telephone receivers that I initially thought it was a cultural trait, rather than the result of such poor voice quality over the existing lines. All of this would soon change. During the 1980s Korea achieved a revolution in telecommunications that caught the attention of the industry worldwide and forever changed the quality of life for South Korea’s citizens. The story of that revolution became the subject of my book, The Telecommunications Revolution in Korea, Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1995. I have been intensely interested in Korea’s subsequent efforts to build an information society which have thrust it into a leading role internationally and at the same time have rendered my book an historical document. Therefore, I am now working on a second edition with the ambitious goal of trying to provide a faithful and comprehensive account of recent developments in South Korea. For information on my background you may consult my personal website, which is basically an electronic resume. For my thoughts on Korea’s telecommunications industry and its rapidly advancing information society, check this blog on an occasional basis.

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