“The IT Korea Future Strategy drafted by the government is kind of an acknowledgement that President Lee’s administration has made a big mistake in IT policy,” said a Seoul-based IT watchdog. He was referring to the news that the government and private sectors will invest W189.3 trillion (US$18.9 billion) for five years to help the IT industry get out of the recession. His point is absolutely right, because President Lee derailed IT by chopping up the Ministry of Information and Technology, a champion of the Korean IT boom, in a controversial reshuffle right after his inauguration in 2008. At the time experts pointed out that it would be premature for President Lee to get rid of the MIT in the Internet era, but those voices were not heard by the ears of a president seeking smaller government. From this background, the strategy may as well be reckoned to be a signal of a new start. To our surprise, President Lee himself declared the day when the draft was unveiled as the second boom day.
The grand future strategy focuses on five major sectors: IT Convergence, Software, Major IT Products, Broadcasting & Communications and the Internet. They are all the pillars of the Korean economy that deeply depends on IT and IT-related industries. As the President put it, the five core initiatives would give Korea chances not only to survive global competition, but also to expand its business horizon in the future.
For the IT convergence sector, the government will help private businesses find partners who have intentions to converge technology. Shipbuilding and IT are getting close as clients ask builders to put more digital capabilities on ships. Ships today are not what they used to be. Ships, for cargo or cruises, are required to supply Internet and computer games for passengers on board. The military also needs cutting-edge technology for its weapons and communications. Today’s wars largely count on that. No products can be independent from IT these days.
The auto business is the main target for which the government aims. Cars in the future will look like what we have seen in movies. They will think, act, and respond like a man with the help of IT.
We can see a car moving automatically without steering. If we put in the location we want to go, the car will follow the map responding to traffic signs and speed limits. When gas is low the car senses it and pulls over at a nearby gas station. Maybe you do not have to pay for the gas with your credit card. The sensors around the gas pumps will read the license plates and take money from the owner’s account automatically. To make this come true, the government will dedicate W10 billion or about US$10 million.
The government will invest a large portion of the budget to boost software business because software is what advanced countries have focused on to make more money with less loss of natural resources. The investment was decided largely because Korean hardware manufacturers have to import software to make their products at high cost. There have been worries that the more Korean manufacturers make IT-related products, the more American software providers gain. As far as software is concerned, Korea is still a colony to foreign countries.
For this purpose, the government will pour assets into small businesses which are hungry for investment from outside even though their software is competitive. The government will build a software engineering center to raise software designers who can produce new software and work for private companies. It also plans to give a number of scholarships for college and university students who are interested in software. According to statistics, the volume of the software market across the world is four times larger than that of semiconductors. However, the environment in Korea is very poor and far behind in terms of research and development (R&D), lack of investment, and pirates.
For the leading IT products, the government will encourage manufacturers to upgrade both quality and quantity by providing proper assistance. Its main target is set to make cellular phones the world best in market share to follow the case of semiconductors and displays. Experts say that semiconductor, displays and cellular phones are the major contributors to make Korea survive the fierce battle of trade on the globe. They also point out that the three items create a huge number of jobs. If Samsung dominates the market in semiconductors and cellular phones, its part providers can hire more workers.
Broadcasting and communication is another hurricane that will change the whole environment. It is said that the future shape of broadcasting and communication will not be like what it is today thanks to the emergence of a 4G broadband network. The speed of broadband is expected to go up 10 times faster than now. The government sees the possiblity by 2012. When faster broadband networks are introduced, changes will show up in school, home, hospitals, the army, movies, and phones. For this, the government and private sector will share assets to fulfill these dreams.
Specifically, the government will release its money to install IPTVs in 240,000 schools. IPTV is an Internet-connected TV which receives information from Internet Protocol networks, not from a TV frequency. Where schools are connected, students can get educational programs through IPTV. The government plans to connect with private educational institutions which are very famous for certain areas of education so that students can get excellent lectures which are not available in schools.
IPTV also enables the army to give chances to soldiers to talk on video phone with families far from military bases. IPTV and cameras on TV sets transmit faces through Internet lines. That will enhance the quality of life in the military. Soldiers can also log on to e-learning programs while there are no exercises. Some can enroll in colleges and universities on the Internet and get bachelor’s degrees while in service.
WiBro is also a focus which the government strongly wishes to boost as a future item. WiBro is a sort of wireless broadband. With WiBro, you can log onto the Internet on the subway, bus, train and even on top of a mountain. It is utterly different from wired broadband. You can watch baseball games and English Premium League on any device with a WiBro chip attached. The government will help private sectors export WiBro to the world market so that WiBro can be a global standard in the field of wireless broadband. By 2012, wireless Internet will have a speed of 10Mbps and wired will be 1Gbps as a result of investment both by the government and the private sector.
Security is the core issue to keep society and industry safe. Nowadays nothing can stay alive on Internet-related services, commercial or public, without security programs. Firewalls and antivirus software are not enough to defend networks and services from cyber attacks by individual hackers. In the wake of DDoS attacks that put the whole nation on alert two months ago banks, public organizations, the military, companies, and schools were hustling and bustling to keep away from a DDoS catastrophe. Banks, especially those that run electronic banking services, desperately need almighty security programs to give safer and faster services to their customers. Imagine that banks are under attack by hackers and money is taken. Customers will rush into banks right after the announcement of the loss. As the President declared, Septmeber 2, 2009 will be a new day for IT.