While Korea’s Information Technology and Communication’s (ITC) industry has been part of the nation’s economy for over 40 years in has only been in the past decade where is has excelled and become a extremely important, influential piece.
Historically Korea’s economy has been guided and in large part controlled by the large chaebol companies however with the incumbent President Park Geun-hye’s declaration to create a more ‘creative economy’ there is hope that small and medium enterprises will expand and play a more important role.
Korea has a well deserved reputation around the world for its highly developed internet infrastructure, in fact, it consistently ranks among the tops in the world. Around the time its internet services became so well developed, Korea’s ITC economy started focusing on more general IT based services rather than its more specialized ITC industry. Nowadays, the general trend of the conventional Korean ICT industry, much like that of the rest of the industry, is shifting towards mobile technology and convergence between devices.
Korea has always been a hot bed for gaming. PC bangs provide computer gaming enthusiasts with top of the line machines capable of running any game, however, with the explosion of smart phone technology and its resulting increase in popularity, the mobile game market has taken off. Mobile games boasted a growth rate of over 24% in 2012. With the expected popularity of LTE services and widely used platforms such as Kakao talk and Cyworld the growth of mobile games is expected to continue to grow in the future.
Mobile games are most certainly a profitable and growing business but perhaps the most exciting sectors for expected growth are the ‘smart working’ and ‘smart home’ industries. The Korean government has targeted to impose a smart working system for 30% of public employees by 2015. In recent years Korea has gained a reputation for its ‘Administrative Korean Wave,’ exporting their eGovernment systems to various other countries in Africa, Central America, and Asia including Uzbekistan where Kim Nam-Suk, former undersecretary Ministry of Security and Public Administration, was elected vice chairman of the Uzbekistani Telecommunication Committee.
Smart home technology and its ability and potential for convergence with smart devices will be an industry that may change our day to day life. Mega-companies, such as Samsung and LG, are competing in the smart home appliances market. Both have created appliances that sync home appliances with apps on your phone. Samsung Smart Home will enable its users to control and manage their home devices such as refrigerators, washing machines, smart TVs, digital cameras, smartphones and even the wearable device Galaxy Gear through a single application.
With the LTE network services spreading and becoming more and more common place and more companies jumping into the ‘smart home’ market the connectivity of life in Korea will increase further.Such developments will not only aim to improve the convenience of home appliances but applications like smart meters will save energy and ultimately money for the consumer while improvements in cameras and body applications allow monitoring from smartphones to improve security and monitor different aspects in your health. With more embedment of smart technologies in our lives, there is no doubt that new unforeseen new industries will be created.
There is plenty to be excited about in the various industries connected with ICT, however, With the increase of information being shared and the rapid distribution of that information between different sources, sensitive data is often at risk. The risk was most evident in the recent major data leak from KB Kookmin Card, Lotte Card, and NH Nonghyup Card. Also certain questions have been raised about the amount of information and power that will be held by only a few of the chaebol conglomerates who have traditionally dominated the Korean market.
The idea of President Park Geun-hye’s ‘creative economy’ was explained in as “combining creative ideas with science and information and communications technology (ICT) to help create new businesses, markets and industries and to generate more jobs.”It remains to be seen if SMEs can be successfully and substantially included in the exciting industries that are being developed. While creativity is definitely an important focus in this dynamic global economy there is no doubt Korea’s larger companies will be a big part of it, it remains to be seen if there is room to share.