Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Korean Media Culture News signing out

An epilogue. The research project on Korean media culture (2006-2009) funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation is coming to an end, and thus I will be wrapping up the blog with a final Spring News summary - at least for now. To keep up with the interesting stuff going on in Korean media and new media in the future, visit the blogs such as Korea's Information Society, Web 2.0 Asia, Korea IT Times, Seoul Digital City and Futurize Korea. If you are interested in my future research, please visit my research blog. For my Korean media and new media related research papers, check out my Academia site.


Jim Larson's Korea's Information Society (April 8) compares the boradband policies of the US and Korea. Jim also discusses (April 9) how YouTube in Korea is rejecting real name system for users. As Jim notes: "Korea is the only country in the world where Internet users are required to input their name and resident registration number before subscribing to portals and other Internet services."

Read also Jim's analysis (April 20) of government-Google relations in a follow-up titled South Korea's Differences with Google and Futurize Korea's Google snubs Korean goverment Internet regulation demands and Google Korea responds to real-name identification debate.

Jim has also posted about the ever-fascinating subject of robotics and how Korea Aims for Top Three Nations in Robotics. Also, take a look at the post about "StickyBot", a little robot that can climb smooth surfaces (see also the developer's website).

The so-called Minerva case has also been discussed in the blog. As Jim explains, Minerva was

"the online alias used by Park Dae-sung who attracted a cult-like following over a period of several months last year with his postings about the economy on one of Korea's popular web portals. Minerva quickly became famous based on predictions like the fall of Lehman Brothers and the collapse of the Korean won. When Mr. Park was arrested last January, it turned out that he was 31 and jobless, had attended a two-year college and had never even invested in the stock market. One of his crimes, according to prosecutors, was to state that the Korean government had barred banks and major companies from buying American dollars in a desperate attempt to check the fall of the won. [...] As Choe, Sang Hun correctly notes, the case of Minerva highlights the contrast between Korea's offline Confucian culture in which seniority and heirarchy rule, and the anonymity of cyberspace which allows people to flout decorum." [Read the whole post.]

Jim also writes about Korean "Green IT" (see here and here).

The rapidly growing online tutoring service called is discussed here.

Kim Chang-Won of Web 2.0 Asia has produced a lot of interesting blog-post this spring too (see also his new personal website). For instance, Chang-Won writes about the popularity of Korean online gaming. It so huge that for example an online game company is sponsoring an offline baseball team. Read more about it here. For contrast, read another post about a downsizing Korean online games company.

See also Chang-Won's post on SK Telecom's (rumored) project to fight iPhone and Android and an insightful analysis including the Minerva case and the real name system in the post titled Does the concept of country matter any more in the internet era? Related to Korea's tight Internet user control, Chang-Won has also written about the "cyber exiles" fleeing to foreign internet services.

Chang-Won writes how Korean kids nowadays have a government imposed cerfew of 10PM on all cram school studies (the private tutoring schools used to go on until 11 PM!):

"But that doesn't make the Korean society less competitive all of a sudden. Korean kids still have to make it to good colleges and get a decent job after graduation to even barely survive in this hyper-competitive society. That means they have to study the hell out of themselves, and even if Hakwon now finishes at 10PM instead of 11PM, students have to resume their study after they hit home. Hence the boost of e-learning companies' stock prices; For example, Digital Daesung, a Korean e-learning company, saw its stock price surge by about 25% after the government announcement. They say Korea is a dynamic country. Sometimes the country can be too dynamic. Koreans need some rest (myself included, perhaps), and highschool kids are no exception." [Read the whole thing.]

Other interesting posts from Web 2.0 Asia:
- Wetoku, an online interviewing service.
- "Boys over Flowers" or a success story of monetizing online videos.
- Cyworld to embrace Open Social
- Playstreet lets you walk through Seoul's hotspots
- Korean internet portals join the mourning as the former president dies
- Top Korean sports celebrity to join Twitter
- ViiKii is Youtube for international videos

Futurize Korea writes about SK Telecom Tum Experience Center, a new exhibition space "similar to the exhibits in the Nuritkum Square Digital Pavilion which presents different technologies based around different themes: Play Dream, Play Now and Play Basic."

Other interesting issues from Futurize Korea:
- Synovate research: Korean youth "media junkies": Korean kids are the junkiest of Asia
- Cisco plans Korean research center, ubiquitous city network: ubiquitous is everywhere in Korea
- Korea government passes new copyright infringement bill: the three-strikes law similar to that of France
- Korean police respond to Internet suicide sites: the global phenomenon among youth
- Gangnam Media Pole: a step towards the u-city
- Korean government launches Internet addiction hotline: a website for internet addicts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March News medley

Jim Larson's Korea's Information Society blog discusses the following interesting issues, among others:

As for Web 2.0 Asia, fascinating stuff as always:

Hanna & Annthony at Seoul Digital City:

Futurize Korea's new media news:

Friday, February 20, 2009

On mobile phone usage in Korea

Futurize Korea presents an interesting report by JoongAng Ilbo on the saturation of the mobile phone market. The blog also mentions two other valuable sources: 1) a study on how teenagers in five countries (incl. Korea) used mobile communication and 2) SK Telecom's customer statistics. Read the blog post here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yvette Wohn to discuss the Korean news & social site

From Yvette:

In 2001, three seniors at Ewha Women’s University launched a social networking site for students of their school. (Ewha is one of Korea’s top universities and the largest women’s univ. in the world) With campus media subsidized and screened, this online portal took off not only as a networking site but also as an independent news and information portal. With 50,000 active user accounts (mostly current students) and an average of 8,000 concurrent users, the site is a forum for synchronous and asynchronous communication. [Read more.]

[Via Berkman Blog - thanks for the hint, Turo.]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Samsung Electronics and Massive Shakeup

According to Digital Chosunilbo the global downtrend of economy is affecting Samsung Electronics too and the company is tackling the problem with a heavy hand.

"Samsung Electronics has conducted the biggest personnel shakeup in its history, transferring 85 percent of staff at headquarters to plants and replacing 70 percent of executives. The electronics giant on Wednesday said the move came to overcome the economic crisis by transferring large portions of headquarters' functions and organization to plants and research and development divisions.

Samsung Electronics streamlined its current six divisions into two -- the device solutions division and the digital media & communications division -- while deciding to abolish two support divisions, the business support division and the technology management division. As a result, 1,200 out of 1,400 staff at these support divisions in Seocho-dong, Seoul will move to plants and R&D centers.

An executive said the only exception to the principle 'is our decision to enhance the function of the audit team to prevent and manage the crisis, promoting the head of the team to a chief executive position.' Samsung also said it restructured business-related divisions and regional offices, while appointing executives with proven credentials and capabilities to lead them. In the process, nearly 70 percent of Samsung Electronics executives were given new assignments, and their average age dropped from 49 to 48.

Samsung said executives decided to cut their benefits and salaries by about 20 percent to overcome the crisis."

[Italics mine, perhaps execs. in Europe could do the same...]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Korea #6 in Broadband Penetration

Chosun Ilbo (orig. Arirang News) reported on a International Telecommunication Union survey listing world's leading countries in terms of high broadband penetration rates.

"Korea ranks sixth with roughly 31 percent of the population subscribing to high broadband Internet. This is according to the group's 2007 analyses of broadband subscription rates in 30 industrialized countries. Denmark topped the list at 36 percent, followed by Iceland, the Netherlands, Finland, and Switzerland."

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Ubiquitous Life in Korea too Early to Tell" - Korea IT Times

Read Matthew Wigand's analysis of the status quo of u-Korea (January 16, 2009).

News and blogs around the turn of the year

Korea's Information Society has posted about WiBro (Wireless Broadband) export prospects/user-experiences and reputation (esp. Korea Times' pessimistic article) as well as Jim Larson's ongoing book project on Korea's information society.

IT Times (see the new and renewed website!) Korea discusses the concept of ubiquitous, the buzzword of Korea information technology. The title of another interesting article says it all: "Digital Wonderland Needs an Enhanced Image."

Futurize Korea has posted two news roundups, one on Korean portals and the other on Korean video games.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

News from the Front (12/08)

Another news medley on Decmber issues within Korean media and new media.

From Korea IT Times:
-Mobile markets

- Other

  • An Information-oriented Nation: "Lee Myung-bak aims to make Korea an information-oriented nation by 2012. This visionary announcement was held to drive forward informatization and to form an international consensus. The basic scheme of informatization was discussed and voted on by the Informatization Promotion Committee chaired by the Prime Minister, Han Seung-soo on the 25th of November and it paved the way for this announcement. In addition, it also aimed to send a hopeful message including new opportunities for jobs and businesses to everyone both the public sector and business sector in this economic crisis."
  • "The Harvard of Online Education : Daegu Cyber University increases its educational capacity with two new online departments."
  • RFID exhibition reveals new applications.
  • Broadband Penetration Not Profitable?
    "Korea and Japan both have the reputations of being two of the most wired nations in the world. Japan is number three in total number of broadband subscribers, with 26.5 million according to latest reports. Korea as well is fourth with 14.1 million broadband subscribers. The United States and China are first and second, mostly due to their overwhelmingly large populations compared to other countries. However, the profitability of investing so much money into Internet infrastructure is still questionable."
From Web 2.0 Asia:
  • Gawemaster lets you find a personal tutor close to you: "Not surprisingly, personal tutoring for college prep courses is a huge business in Korea. For tutors and students alike, proximity matters. Gawemaster ("Gawe" means "tutoring" in Korean) allows user to search for tutors based on different criteria, including their location. This is a case of map API mashup - in fact, Gawemaster won the first place (in terms of site traffic) in a recent Daum map mashup contest."
  • Mintpad is one of a kind portable device: "Mintpad is a unique portable device that lets you do, well, pretty much everything. With Mintpad, you can jot down memos, draw pictures, do mobile blogging and chatting, take photos and videos, listen to music, record your voice, surf the web, exchange business cards and manage your schedule, read e-books, and God only knows what else." See picture of Mintpad here.
  • Naver Opencast lets anyone become an "information curator". "Naver, Korea's #1 portal, has always been under criticism that the service is too closed. Now Naver has brought an answer to the age-long criticism: It's called Open Cast.

From Futurize Korea:

Top New Media Events in Korea, 2008

Korea IT Times listed 15 top media events of 2008. Among them were many new media related happenings such as listed below.

  • Ministry of Information and Communication disappeared. "In February of 2008, the Ministry of Information and Communication was dissolved along with the Ministry of Science and Technology. In their place the Ministry of Knowledge Economy was created, and some departments were integrated with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, and the Korea Communications Commission."
  • OECD Ministerial Meeting & World IT Show. "The OECD IT Ministerial Meeting was held from June 17 and 18, 2008 at COEX. At the same time, the World IT Show also took place on June 17~20 at COEX. For the OECD IT Ministerial Meeting, a number of the world's leading figures in the Internet and telecommunication industry gathered in Seoul to share their views. In addition, in the World IT Show, the biggest IT Show ever held in Korea, 520 IT companies and organizations from Korea and the rest of the world showed off their high-tech products and vision."
  • Mad Cow Disease drove Korean public mad. "Using the Internet as a communication medium, special interest groups whipped the Korean population into a frenzy of fear against the nonexistent threat of Mad Cow Disease in American beef imports, causing the new presidential administration to pause in ratifying the Korea-US FTA and remove some cabinet members as an appeasement sacrifice."
  • IMID 2008. "IMID 2008, KES 2008, and i-SEDEX 2008 were combined together in the Korea Electronics Grand Fair 2008. Low energy consumption displays were the hot topic at this new, bigger fair."
  • Robot World 2008. "Robots actively participated this year in the opening ceremonies for their own show, conducting the ceremonies, passing out bouquets, and dancing to popular Korean pop songs."
  • GStar 2008. "A resurgence in popularity of the GStar computer game show in Korea was helped by new management. Popular TV personalities and pop singers were present to lend a buzz of excitement to the show, which heavily featured online games this year."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Korea's Information Society blog on Google Android and the protected mobile market of Korea

Jim Larson presents The Economist's article "The Battle for the Smart Phone's Seoul" and analyzes the current situation of the market. Read more about it here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


[Hankyoreh, November 20 2008] Textbook battle erupts in Busan

[Hankyoreh, November 11 2008] Seoul schools superintendent pushes to change history textbooks

[Hankyoreh, November 10 2008] Education authorities stir opposition with new ‘textbook course’

Information on the wealth of Constitutional Court judges absent from court’s Web site

[Hankyoreh, November 15 2008]

Court’s explanation for why the information was eliminated from its official gazette is inconsistent with government practice

It was confirmed that the nine judges of the Constitutional Court, which recently ruled that the tax is partly unconstitutional, have not publicized information on their assets in an official gazette posted on the court’s Web site. With growing criticism that the court’s decision has left the comprehensive real estate tax without substance in favor of wealthy home owners, such as those living in Seoul’s affluent Gangnam district, there are now growing suspicions about why the court has not yet provided a clear explanation for why they did not publish the information as required by law.

Heartbreak, bigger stake

[Hankyoreh, November 15 2008]

An Internet activist being persecuted for his views and activism says he “is now going to erase Korea” from his heart.

President Lee Myung-bak feels the same, saying he, too, “has a lot of things to erase,” mainly current events programs on television.

Korean Broadcasting System has plans to cancel two current-affairs television programs, “Sisa Tonight” and “Media Focus,” which the government has identified as being critical of its policies. The cancellation is part of a recent series of actions that have caused tempers to flare at the broadcaster, including instasllation of a bi-weekly radio address by Lee and threats of a personnel reshuffle for producers involved in production of the programs scheduled for cancellation. KBS producers accuse the broadcaster eliminating editorial freedoms in compliance with the government’s attempt to gain tighter control of the media.

Log out and Tune in

[Hankyoreh, November 12 2008]

Students of Seoul Women’s University in Gongreung-dong turn in their mobile phones on Log Out Day, November 11, designed by the university to free students from networks for a day.

Instead of using their mobile phones or Internet services, students hand-wrote postcards and sent them via regular mail.

A university official said the campaign was designed to give students the space to rediscover themselves after being lost in the flood of information that surrounds us every day.

KBS producer launches sit-in

[Hankyoreh, November 11 2008]

Protest prompted by KBS’s decision to air regular presidential radio addresses and cancel 2 television programs

“Establishment of the president’s radio address and cancellation of (television) programs (critical of the government) signal the destruction of the justification for KBS’s existence.”

On the morning of November 10, Kim Deok-jae, the chairman of the Producers’ Association at the Korean Broadcasting System, launched a sit-in against plans by the public broadcaster to cancel two current-affairs television programs, “Sisa Tonight” and “Media Focus,” and its decision to air regular radio addresses by President Lee Myung-bak. Kim took action after the protests of he and other producers were ignored by KBS management.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


"Macau, November 19, 2008 - Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a leading provider of mobile phones and telecom systems, is proud to announce that it has won the 'Asia Mobile Award' for 'Best Mobile Broadband handset/device' with Samsung Innov8 by GSMA, the global trade group for the mobile industry. The award, announced at the Asia Mobile Award gala dinner on November 18th, praised Samsung Innov8's almighty multimedia features and superb camera quality."

KOREA IT TIMES - LG and PRADA debut in contemporary mobility

"London, UK, 18 November, 2008 - LG Electronics (LG), a worldwide technology and design leader in mobile communications, and PRADA, world¡¯s leading fashion brand, today announce the global launch of the highly anticipated successor to the PRADA Phone by LG. "

Samsung's cell phone for kids helps escape from dangerous situations

Futurize Korea reports (orig. by Samsung Mobile Press) Samsung's new mobile phone release oriented especially for children. Samsung's press release describes the new model as "Astonishingly Adorable Mobile Phone with Fun Characters". The phone has "various safety functions such as SOS Call, SOS Message and Fake Call [?]" and its "users can be directly linked to their family members and friends in emergent situations and even easily escape from dangerous situations. With Samsung Tobi, parents are always assured that their children are equipped with safety tools to keep them as secure as possible."

See also IT Times Korea's story on the subject.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Log out and Tune in [Hankyoreh, November 12 2008]

"Students of Seoul Women’s University in Gongreung-dong turn in their mobile phones on Log Out Day, November 11, designed by the university to free students from networks for a day. Instead of using their mobile phones or Internet services, students hand-wrote postcards and sent them via regular mail.
A university official said the campaign was designed to give students the space to rediscover themselves after being lost in the flood of information that surrounds us every day."

[Thanks to Seoul Digital City]

History textbook causes an uproar in South Korea - International Herald Tribune

"SEOUL: To conservative critics, a popular textbook's version of how U.S. and Soviet forces took control of Korea from Japanese colonialists in 1945 exemplifies all that's wrong with how South Korean history is taught to young people today.

The facts no one disputes are that, at the end of World War II, the Soviet military swept into northern Korea and installed a friendly Communist government while a U.S. military administration assumed control in the south.

But then the high school textbook takes a direction that is raising hackles among conservatives. It argues that the Japanese occupation was followed not by a free, self-determining Korea, but by a divided peninsula dominated once again by foreign powers.

'It was not our national flag that was hoisted to replace the Japanese flag,' reads the textbook published by Kumsung Publishing. 'The flag that flew in its place was the American Stars and Stripes. Our liberation through the Allied forces' victory prevented us from building a new country according to our own wishes.'

The critics include the government of President Lee Myung Bak, the conservative who came to power this year with a pledge to overturn a decade of liberal policies that Lee said coddled North Korea and denigrated the U.S. alliance - the alliance that liberals, for their part, accused of propping up South Korean dictators in the name of anti-Communism. [Read the rest.]"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Photos of Kim Jong-il appear with increasing regularity

[Hankyoreh, November 7 2008]

Some speculate that timing of the reports is no accident in their coincidence with the conclusion of the U.S. election

Reports of public appearances by North Korean National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il from the North’s state media outlets have become more frequent as of late. A series of recent news reports indicate that Kim may be returning to his post and emerging from his reclusive state.

Kim Jong-il: Round three

[Hankyoreh, November 6 2008]

The North Korean news outlet Korean Central Television released photographs of North Korean National Defence Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il at a military base near Pyongyang on November 5, including this one, in which Kim applauds soldiers at a training session.

[Interview] Wikipedia founder critical of real-name Internet system

[Hankyoreh, November 5 2008]

S. Korea’s system is not in accordance with a free democracy, Wales says

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, 43, has indicated the dangers of government Internet controls in South Korea. In a speech delivered at an international conference on the entrepreneurial spirit held Monday at Seoul’s Walkerhill Hotel under the auspices of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Wales criticized the government’s policy, saying, “A ‘real-name Internet system’ is not in accordance with a free democracy. I hope that the Korean government seriously considers that.” In 2001, Wales founded the online encyclopedia Wikipedia (, and is chairman emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that operates the encyclopedia. He was also chosen as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by the news weekly Time. He sat down for a separate interview with The Hankyoreh following his lecture Monday.

Producers protest the presidential radio address

[Hankyoreh, November 4 2008]

Korea Broadcasting Station producers protest the station’s airing of regular radio addresses by President Lee Myung-bak and call on those responsible to resign, in the KBS lobby on Yeouido on November 3.

The radio addresses are produced by Cheong Wa Dae, which stipulated that they be aired without editing by the station. This led to accusations the administration is trying to use the airwaves for its own benefit.

National Assembly Research Service doubts criminalization of ‘cyber insults’

[Hankyoreh, November 3 2008]

‘China is the only nation worldwide legally stipulating criminalization of cyber insults,’ NARS says

The National Assembly Research Service expressed doubts Sunday about the effectiveness of the criminalization of “cyber insults” currently being pursued by the Grand National Party.

In a written response to the research analysis “Effects of Introducing the Criminalization of Cyber Insults,” which was commissioned by Democratic Party National Assembly member Shin Hak-yong, NARS declared, “The goal of introducing the criminalization of cyber insults is to reduce malicious posts on the Internet, and there is a need to consider whether it is the best plan for doing so.”

Culture, IT join hands

[ News, November 13 2008]

"The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOIS), an agency in charge of overseas promotion of Korean culture under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, together with the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion (KADO), an agency specializing in bridging the digital divide at home and abroad under the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, have joined hands to promote Korea's image around the world."

New pictures of Kim Jong-il released by N. Korean media

[Hankyoreh, November 3 2008]

The North ‘wants the next U.S. administration to take an active approach to U.S.-North Korea negotiations,’ analyst says

The North Korean news outlets Korean Central News Agency, Central Television, and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed pictures of North Korean National Defence Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il at a football match between North Korean military teams November 2.

Show of solidarity

[Hankyoreh, October 31 2008]

Reporters from various media outlets dress in black to show their solidarity with the union of YTN, a cable news broadcasting company, on October 30 at the National Assembly. The union has battled with the network for over 100 days to have YTN President Gu Bon-hong resign. Gu, who is a close aide of President Lee Myung-bak, was appointed in July amid protest that his appointment was part of Lee’s attempts to gain tighter control over the media.

The National Union of Media Workers also called on its members to dress in black, designating the occasion as A Day for YTN and Fair Broadcasting. Later in the day at 7 p.m., a “Citizen Culture Festival for YTN and Fair Broadcasting” was held at Seoul Station Plaza with 800 people in attendance to support the YTN union, the leader and 5 staff members of which were fired early this month.