[Viewpoint] Bureaucratic overhaul vital to compete

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[Viewpoint] Bureaucratic overhaul vital to compete

The relationship between broadcasting and other media, full of conflict in the past thanks to the Korea Communications Commission, appears to have stabilized to a certain extent.

The first steps of harmonizing broadcasting with print and internet media have been successful. That is a great accomplishment for the current administration. However, a few other tasks remain if we wish to motivate expansion and development in the industry in the future.

Many of these problems have to do with structure.

The Korea Communications Commission has recently been discussing the introduction of special appointments to institute a secretary general system. Such a system would be designed to raise the watchdog’s decision-making efficiency and strengthen its power to promote Korean innovation.

Some oppose this idea, but it does appear to be justified considering promotional and training projects require effective policy execution.

However, will this be enough? I believe there is a further need for a clear authority capable of preparing Korean companies for the future.

According to UN Future Forum material, the amount of information produced and distributed annually by 2025 will be the same amount of information created from the beginning of history until the 1950s.

This is how quickly the speed of information distribution is accelerating, and how quickly things will change. The forum believes that by 2025, factories will make not only artificial human arms and legs but even blood vessels, hearts, organic cardiac pacemakers and kidneys, and that these will become established as major industries.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently translated and published in Korea its new industry creation strategy, titled, “Future Technology Strategy Map 2025.”

It is a wide-ranging, in-depth report of 1,400 pages. It presents new industry creation scenarios and road maps to technological innovation leading up to 2025, and addresses 29 promising fields of the future, including information and communications, life science, the environment, energy, lifestyle technologies and others.

It has advice not only for the government but also for the Japanese people on how to keep their country’s superior competitiveness on the international industrial battlefield.

How does the situation in Korea compare to that of Japan, which is actively preparing for the future?

According to a recent announcement by the Bank of Korea, the ratio of exports and imports to gross national income is around 110 percent, meaning total trade now exceeds the amount of money we make.

This shows that we are currently largely dependent on other countries. We therefore face an urgent task - to develop domestic demand while simultaneously penetrating new overseas markets.

We know that the IT industry, including broadcasting and communications, is the foundation that supports the Korean economy.

The IT industry not only helped overcome the Korean economy’s dependence on the International Monetary Fund in the aftermath of the Asian currency crisis, it is also playing a decisive role in overcoming the current downturn.

However, an examination of major export products shows that we are too focused within that industry, with semiconductors, cell phones and displays making up more than 70 percent of our exports in the area.

In other words, inside IT, our software and parts industries are weak.

I frequently hear people say, “I recently feel like the awe foreigners had for us as a strong IT country is rapidly fading away,” or, “It has become difficult to do business now that IT duties are divided into many different departments.”

It can be said that Korean IT was able to reach a world-class standard because the country created a unique Ministry of Information and Communication, which other countries did not have, and focused on areas that were independent from existing industries.

It will not be easy for the renamed Ministry of Knowledge Economy, which is in charge of all industry fields - even department stores - to execute those responsibilities so perfectly.

Meanwhile, the Korea Communications Commission is supposed to mix regulatory duties based on a collegiate system and promotions for individual industries and companies, but the reality is that it is more focused on regulation than on promotion.


*The writer is head of Korea Digital Cable Laboratories.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Yim Chu-hwan

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