Fostering Korean Information Industries

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Fostering Korean Information Industries

A new year has begun, but it is hard to look forward to a new beginning. Because of the confused and troubled social atmosphere, the days are passing by in a hushed silence.

The entire society suffered during the last two years when the nation''s economy appeared to have overcome its crisis - but signs of crisis emerged again. In a single year, Koreans witnessed great changes of fortune that would have taken several years for other countries to experience, which is not surprising in view of Koreans'' disposition to hurry everything. Learning a lesson from the past and preparing for a great leap forward seem to be all that are left to do.

The Internet industry took an especially hard hit last year. For whom does Korea''s online industry exist? To get a clear picture, let us imagine the state Korea will be in 10 years from now. Will Koreans be living in an advanced country, having continued with the efforts of their older compatriots who had united and worked so hard to achieve the single goal of becoming prosperous? Will Korea have become a country in which our children, who grew up in relative affluence, are content to live? If Korea had become an advanced country, what kind of happiness would the people be pursuing?

We need a clear national vision right now, one that everyone can share. The gap between the vision and the reality can become the driving force motivating us to move forward. The national vision of a highly developed society of knowledge has to include acquiring the systems that ensure each individual''s pursuit of whatever he or she aspires to, society''s respect for this diversity and the world''s recognition of this power. A knowledge-based industrialized society allows strong individualities to intermingle, help each other and share the differences, and produce new values in the process.

The process is comparable to, say, a construction site where everyone performs a different task but moves in sync, like building a house of blocks. A bridge is built in the same way, which shortens the construction period and reduces the expenses. The process is possible only when the participants are wise enough to concentrate on what they can do best and trust others to do their part.

E-business is based on this concept and that is the reason online-based businesses are the future of Korea. Like assembling a prefabricated house, the industry has the systems capable of rapidly producing added value that a knowledge-based society requires. Aren''t dinosaurs said to have become extinct because their bodies developed disproportionately to their heads?

Korea has to become the center of a huge ecosystem in which the sums of different individualities and capabilities come together to create new values. Our future depends on how rapidly this productivity of the information industry is transplanted to the entire state system.

The infrastructure essential to attain this goal is not start-up funds or venture complexes. It has to be an invisible one of principles and compensation. A game is fun to play only when strict rules are applied. The best compensation and fair rules produce the best players. Diversity has to exist in a knowledge-based society. Look at the board game of paduk. The rules are extremely simple, but there are countless ways of playing the game.

Now let''s look at ourselves. We are playing a corrupt and unfair game of many complex rules that we do not respect and are incapable of respecting. The only ruling logic is the logic of war, based on the concept of making the impossible happen and winning victories.

Such an unfair system, lacking in principle, forces outstanding personnel resources to turn to other places offering greater prestige and compensation. We should think about why Korea fails to produce global players while many Koreans achieve global fame in foreign countries. Because of the Korean pitcher Park Chan-ho, who is playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the major leagues, Korean baseball fans became ardent Dodgers fans and Korea has to pay astronomical satellite broadcasting fees to watch him play. If Korea had an infrastructure like the major leagues in the United States, it could attract many great baseball players and distribute the fruits of the added values they produce among the Korean people.

In order to become a powerful, knowledge society in the 21st century, we have to discover the best players in various areas of society as we play by fair rules. Instead of spending the government budget on acquiring hardware or on expanding the base of society, the money has to go toward establishing transparent systems that allow fair games to be played and players with talent recognized.

Instead of paying an admission fee to entice players to a game, it should offer attractive prize money so that they participate of their own accord. This is the driving force that propels the development of the information industry. I hope we all learn a lesson from last year''s valuable experience and join in the efforts to foster the venture industry as a national strategy.

The writer Jhun Ha-jin is the chief executive officer of Haansoft Inc.
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