SEOUL, KOREA - The year 2012 has been so eventful. New leaders haven been elected in many nations including the two Koreas and South Korean pop star PSY’s Gangnam Style took the world by storm. Against this backdrop, Korea IT Times has attempted to sum up 2012 memorable events in various sectors such as politics, economy, society and sports.
Global sensation “Gangnam Style”
As U.S. weekly magazine Time included Korean rapper PSY of Gangnam Style in the Person of the Year 2012 poll list, Time’s executive editor Radhika Jones said, “If people remember 2012 as the year of “Gangnam Style,” I wouldn’t say that’s entirely wrong.” Indeed, there is no denying PSY and his song “Gangnam Style” are the biggest hit of all in 2012.
The Korean waves, which started to blow in Asia on the back of the popularity of Korean soap operas back in the 1990s, spread to the rest of the world this year. The cascading effects of the ever-growing Korean wave have trickled down to Korea’s content industry and other export industries. And PSY’s Gangnam Style has definitely headed up the Korean wave thanks to the enduring global craze surrounding it.
This year, PSY has continuously galloped towards setting monumental records: the No1. on the iTunes download charts, the No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven straight weeks and the No.1 on the UK official Singles Chart. Furthermore, “Gangnam style” has added a Guinness World Record to its trophy list as it has become the most “liked” video in YouTube history. Wrapping up the year 2012, YouTube picked Gangnam Style as the No.1 video of the year.
There have been numerous attempts to analyze the secrets of Gangnam Style’s viral, ubiquitous popularity. Visually laughter-provoking elements, catchy repetitive rhythms and the horse-riding dance all are deemed to have played a pivotal role. PSY, who once fell from grace owing to his military scandal in Korea, has reemerged as a bona fide global star. His fans are looking forward to his new album scheduled to be released sometime between February and March 2013.
Elections around the globe
2012 has been a year of elections. According to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), 29 nations including South Korea held presidential elections this year with the number of nations holding general elections in 2012 at nearly 50. Seven out of the major 20 economies newly elected their new presidents. Among the UN Security Council permanent member nations, the top leadership changed hands in four nations (the US, China, Russia and France) except the UK. US President Barack Obama won re-election in a closely fought race and new leaders were also picked in China, Russia and France. On December 19, presidential candidate Park Geun-hye of ruling Saenuri Party was elected South Korea's first-ever female president.
The international community has paid keen attention to the next governments emerging in the US and China. South Korea, which remains technically at war with North Korea that has declared 2012 as the starting year for its endeavors to develop itself into a strong , prosperous nation, also closely watched the election results in the US and China. Eyes are now on how Xi Jinping (General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) will deal with the North Korean regime in the future.
Successful power succession in North Korea
After the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, the process of power transfer to his youngest son Kim Jong-Un kicked in swiftly. On December 30, 2011, Kim Jong-Un, in his age of 20s, was named supreme commander of North Korea’s 1.2 million-strong military, thereby assuming the reins of the North Korean army. In April 2012, he was elected as First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea at the 4th Party conference and, two days later, as First Chairman of the National Defense Commission during the fifth session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly. In April 2012, Kim Jong-Un appointed Choe Ryong-hae, who mainly worked within the party, as director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army. Three months later, on July 15, Kim Jong-Un went on to reshuffle his military by sacking military heavyweight Li Young-Ho. The successful launch of a long-range rocket on December 12 highlighted the leadership of new leader Kim Jong-Un. Some experts estimated that though the Kim Jong-Un regime, on the surface, made a soft landing in 2012, it may have been beset by economic woes and power struggle under the surface.
Samsung vs. Apple
Apple and Samsung Electronics, the two archrivals that have monopolized the global IT market, have locked horns in court over patent violations regarding their smartphones and tablet PCs throughout the year. The two IT titans were embroiled in over 30 patent lawsuits in nearly 10 nations including Australia, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.
The lawsuit of the century, which set off when Apple filed a lawsuit with the District Court for the Northern District of California, spread to the EU, Japan and Australia. While Apple criticized Samsung Electronics for using its patented design and user environment, Samsung Electronics countersued Apple for the violation of communications patents. The outcome of the legal imbroglios differed in other nations except the US.
The jury in the landmark Apple-Samsung trial ruled in favor of Apple in August, ordering Samsung to pay USD 1.05 billion in damages. As the following legal battles in Korea, Japan, the UK and Germany ended up in favor of Samsung, people groaned that trade protectionism has reared its ugly head in the US, home to Apple. As Samsung has continued its legal fracas against Apple by making final rebuttal arguments, Samsung’s brand image has been enhanced as the only counterforce against the mighty Apple.
Yet, things aren’t always looking up for Apple: the US patent office has recently nullified Apple’s rubber banding patent. Under such circumstances, the Apple-Samsung patent war is expanding into Samsung’s Galaxy S III and Apple’s iPhone 5, so their legal dispute is unlikely to come to an end in the near future.
Samsung and LG Delay Mass Production of OLED TV
Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics unveiled 55-inch OLED TV at KES 2012, and planned to mass produce at the end of this year.
Samsung’s 55-inch OLED TV ES9500, and smart dual view function of OLED TV, in which sound and images from two channels in one TV were particularly eye-catching. LG Electronics demonstrated 55-inch OLED TV with 4mm thick weighing only 10kg. They also unveiled 84-inch UD 3DTV with over 2 meter(213 cm) diagonal. However, both companies decided to delay mass production of large-screen OLED to next year, allegedly due to technical difficulties with OLED panels, and low yield rate.
Busan is to ITU’s 19th Plenipotentiary Conference in 2014
Busan, South Korea, is a globally well-know city as it has many attractions, such as beautiful and vibrant Haeundae beach, annual Busan International Film Festivals, and the major shopping areas and markets. The city has always welcomed people from abroad and never shied away from hosting major international events, such as ITU’s Asia Telecom in 2004 and APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting in 2005.
Potentially the biggest event of all, Busan has been selected to host ITU’s 19th Plenipotentiary Conference in 2014. The 19th Plenipotentiary Conference will be held for about 3 weeks, starting on October 20, 2014, and ending on November 7, 2014, in BEXCO, Busan. Approximately 2,500 ministerial-level government representatives and IT professionals from ITU Member States in 193 countries are scheduled to participate.
The world’s No.1 e-Government for two years in a row
Korea has ranked atop the UN E-Government Survey for two consecutive years. In the 2012 UN E-government Survey of the total 193 UN member nations, Korea came out on top in all indexes including the advancement of e-government and online participation. The two consecutive years of being the No.1 e-government was made possible thanks to Korea’s refusal to sit on its laurels in 2011. The exports of Korea’s e-government jumped 44% to about USD 340 million from USD 236 million in 2011.
The Korean government last year drew up a next-generation e-government strategy called “Smart E-government Strategy” and vigorously developed mobile services such as SOS Public Safety Service and reports of public grievances via smartphones. In addition, the Korean government has ramped up its interactive communication with the public through social networking sites. Government efforts to narrow the information gap also have been under way. Moreover, vulnerable social brackets’ access to public services made progress. The provision of a one-stop public service via Minwon 24 (http://www.minwon.go.kr) has made sure the seamless exchanges of information and services.
Korea’s ICT environment has played a role in making such achievements. With Korea’s wireless Internet penetration reaching 65.2%, surveys showed that 60.1% of the wireless Internet users go online via their smartphones.
The London 2012 Olympic Games
Albeit in the midst of controversies, South Korea finished fifth in the medal standings at the London Olympics with 13 golds, 8 silvers and 7 bronzes, the best performance abroad (Korea ranked 4th at the 1988 Summer Olympics on its home turf). Korea’s largest gold medal haul in a single Olympic Game - 13 set at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games - was notched up again at London 2012 Olympic Games.
There were several Korean Olympic players who gained as much attention as the 13 gold medalists thanks to their star qualities and feats in setting new world records in their fields. The sight of them doing their utmost to the last second of their game deeply touched the heart of Koreans and was rewarded with a resounding cheer from the public.