[Outlook]Room to grow

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[Outlook]Room to grow

President-elect Lee Myung-bak has lofty economic goals as his new administration approaches its launch date.
But the economic forecast around the world is not very favorable. To overcome obstacles to growth, it is important to continue to develop existing industries. But also it is very important to create new industries in areas we Koreans have competitiveness and relative advantages.
A new industry hardly emerges out of the blue but usually appears during the process of adjusting to a new world economic environment in which existing competitive industries are changing.
What kind of new industries can be created in Korea that will be competitive on a global scale?
First, we can develop the information technology industry. Particularly, the ubiquitous technology industry is one that can be competitive.
Second, we can develop our service sector even further. As we went through hardship during the late 1990s the financial crisis, our survival capability has rapidly developed in the finance, Internet shopping, medicine and education sectors. The cultural sector has developed significantly based on Korean celebrities who are popular in other Asian countries.
Third, the construction industry can be included in the list because the Lee administration favors that sector.
We will have the know-how to build cities because we are busy building ubiquitous cities and eco-cities. This can be one of our export items and thus an important resource for national income.
Information technology, the service industry and the construction industry can be combined to create a new industry that handles the space we take up and live in.
More conventional businesses in this category are civil engineering, architecture, construction and design.
A new type of industry for living space will be coupled with information technology so that one can be provided with services that increase one’s efficiency at home, in the office or even outdoors.
Furthermore, one can share such a living space with others or sell it to others so it is easy to create a living space that suits one’s tastes and needs, and added value is created in the process.
For instance, while watching a TV soap opera, one can download a certain scene’s atmosphere. Special equipment at someone’s place creates the atmosphere on request.
If one records an atmosphere during a honeymoon, one can recreate the same atmosphere whenever and wherever he wants.
This is not all. One can go to shopping centers around the world without traveling. One can feel as if he is in that place and can even shop. In one section of a large shopping mall, products from conventional markets will be presented so customers can pay for selected items and have them delivered if they want.
When a person burns out from too much work or stress, he can download advice from the world’s experts on how to release stress and receive treatment where he is.
Ubiquitous computing technologies such as context-aware computing, wireless networking and augmented reality have developed to the extent that such intelligent-space can be built so we can develop the technology further to be compatible with home appliances or equipment inside or outside houses.
This new technology for a living space based on information technology is well-suited for Alvin Toffler’s prediction in his book “Revolution-ary Wealth.” He predicted that people’s non-economic activities, such as their hobbies, will create economic value and become an important variable for wealth.
It has been 20 years since we started direct presidential elections and we have since had a new president every five years. Our strategies to nurture certain industries have also changed following the same cycle. But industries cannot be fully grown in a time span of five years.
When the government is restructured, a new administration might have different preferences for industries, and that is part of the power that the administration has.
But the administration must not forget that industries must be developed, matured and combined in the context of the world economy, not in the context of administrative affairs or politics.
The right thing to do is to create a new sector combining an existing competitive industry with a new industry.
In this sense, the time is right to foster a living space industry based on information technology.

*The writer is a professor at the College of Management and International Relations of Kyung Hee University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Kwon Oh-byung
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