Rewiring KoreaThe fact that Korea is no longer an Internet powerhouse has shocked the nation. In particular, wireless Internet access in Korea falls far behind Japan, which has never been regarded as a competitor for Korea. The number of people subscribing to wireless Internet service in Japan amounts to 90 million people, whereas it is estimated that there are 300,000 such subscribers in Korea.
It is a serious problem that Korea lags far behind others in this competitive market.
Korea has been long at the forefront of mobile phone production, thanks to Samsung and LG Electronics, two of the world’s largest mobile phone producers. However, the growing smartphone market, a combination of a cellular phone and a PDA, throws us into a completely different game. While various rivals are actively engaging in a vigorous competition to penetrate the new market, as shown by the examples of Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry phone, Korea’s smartphone market is still in its infant stage. The reality is that we have failed to develop our own operating system and are still reliant on our foreign counterparts for advanced technologies. This is the main reason why Korea’s IT competitiveness ranking continues to fall. A survey conducted in Britain found that Korea’s IT industry competitiveness fell from 3rd in 2007 to 16th place this year.
There are several reasons for this. In particular, the actions of the telecommunications industry are the most noteworthy. The industry averted its eyes from the necessity of bringing mobile phones into the Internet marketing arena, fearing that revenues from the voice calls that were their greatest source of income would begin to drop. In addition, the government failed to bring the situation under control. They also made it mandatory to use the local software standard Wireless Internet Platform for Interoperability, which local mobile phone operators were required to use, to keep smartphone imports under control. This is a serious fault.
We should spare no effort in trying to regain our position at the top of the market by forming successful partnerships between the government and the private sector. In particular, the government should be actively involved in helping companies stay ahead of their competitors. Complicated regulations should be radically reduced by simplifying the complex procedures needed to start a business, and the venture environment should be tailored to allow young and talented people to exchange ideas so as to realize their creative potential and commercialize their ideas. The Information Telecommunication Promotion Fund should be spent on strengthening the competitiveness of the nation’s IT industry to fulfill its original mission.