Wednesday, January 09, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, January 9 2008] Korea Develops Next-Generation Laser Light

A next-generation source of laser light has been developed in Korea. A team led by Prof. Kwon O-dae of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) said Tuesday it has developed the world’s first blue laser light source, which uses a semiconductor like light-emitting diodes (LED) but consumes less electricity and emits light faster.

The LED semiconductor diode already performs 10 times better than incandescent light and lasts semi-permanently, being widely tipped as a next-generation light source. The blue laser light differs from LED in that it releases what is called “coherent light.”

“We attached donut-shaped tiny mirrors on the surface of the semiconductor, which means the laser light is emitted in a spiral way, spreading three-dimensionally,” Prof. Kwon said. “It not only emits light hundreds to thousands of times faster than LED when electric currents are applied but also consumes much less power.”
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 8 2008] Seoul to Host ITU-T Conference

This month Korea plays host to a conference of the ITU-T, the standards-making arm of the International Telecommunications Union.

Experts from around the world will converge on Seoul from Jan. 14 to 25 for the largest-ever gathering of this specialized UN agency.

They'll break into study groups to ponder over global telecom recommendations for 30 agendas, among them the testing efficiency of next-generation networks.

The conference is expected to bolster Korea's status as a world leader in telecom technology, building upon its significant breakthroughs in wireless Internet, known as WiBro, and third-generation digital multimedia broadcasting.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 9 2008] New Gov’t to Write New Newspaper Law

President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s transition team on Tuesday decided the new government will replace the compromised Newspaper Law. It will apparently draft a new newspaper law that takes account of all clauses the Constitutional Court has declared either unconstitutional or “not conforming with” the basic law. After a briefing from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Ministry, the Transition Committee said the ministry reported a plan “to secure autonomy and fairness of the press and enhance the vitality of the media industry.” The committee said it has no objection to the ministry's plan.

Kang Seung-kyu, deputy spokesman for the committee, sais the new law will ease restrictions on the combined ownership of newspapers and broadcasting stations in line with the changing media environment -- read a trend for greater integration of different media. “It will also delete unconstitutional clauses, including one that singles out media companies presumed to be potential dominators of the market,” he added.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 8 2008] Korea to Build Second Antarctic Base

Korea is looking at possible sites for a second research base in the Antarctic. The new station is expected to be closer to the South Pole and aims to help scientists get a better understanding of global warming.

The history of the Earth is frozen into the ice of Antarctica. That's why the Korean government is planning to build a second research station on the icy continent, 20 years after establishing the King Sejong Station. The government is providing W70 billion for a new station by 2011. The Korea Polar Research Institute under the Ministry of Science launched a taskforce last year to construct the second station. The team is now surveying sites.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 8 2008] Press Laws Must Go

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism submitted a report to the presidential Transition Committee on Monday, promising to come up with alternative legislation so that the existing Newspaper Law could be scrapped in accordance with President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s campaign pledge. As a result, state-run organizations that were created by the government to aid pro-government newspapers will be transformed into independent entities.

Just two and a half years after it was created by the Roh Moo-hyun administration, the Newspaper Law has been placed on a course for the scrap heap. There is one simple reason why the Roh administration so stubbornly insisted on the enactment of the law: to reduce the readership of newspapers that were critical of the Roh administration and to boost the number of people subscribing to dailies that sided with it. The government believed it would be able to crush critical newspapers, while propping up those that got on its good side. That basic premise is more ignorant than the oppressive methods used by military dictators.


The Press Arbitration law, which was also passed along with the Newspaper Law, is full of regulations that deter newspapers from keeping the government in check, such as clauses that make it possible to demand corrections of articles that did not violate any regulations either through willful intent or negligence. Also in need of being scrapped are regulations that authorized the Fair Trade Commission to conduct midnight raids for the past five years on small newspaper distribution outlets, delivering only 1,000 or 2,000 copies each, slapping them with millions of won in fines.

Justice must be done as quickly as possible.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 8 2008] Robots to Build High Rises by 2010

By 2010 it looks like robots will take over some of the work of building high-rise towers. This new building technology is expected to bring down the number of injuries at high-rise construction sites and also cut down on the time spent on building them. It may only be a matter of years before robots take over such death-defying work. So says the Construction and Transportation Ministry, which announced that it now has the core technology for building high-rises without human workers.

The ministry says it is going ahead with the process of applying the technology to nuts-and-bolts building projects. It will create a construction process almost totally automated, taking advantage of 12 high-tech patents including so-called "intelligent" cranes and the world's first bolt-tightening robots.

Not surprisingly, the robot-led system is expected to cut labor costs by up to one-third and start-to-finish project time by around 15 percent. Add it all up and experts say it will boost overall productivity by an impressive 25 percent.

Consider the 69-story Tower Palace, a lavish residential complex in southern Seoul that took 33 months to complete. With the new technology's touch, it could have been finished five months sooner.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 8 2008] Military Launches New High-Tech Command System

Korea's military has a new high-tech command system that uses real-time multimedia reports to keep top brass informed and in control of what's going on in the field as it happens.

Called the Korea Joint Command Control System, or KJCCS, the system lets military leaders command battlefield units as they watch up-to-the-minute reports on a large-screen monitor in the Joint Chiefs of Staff situation room.

KJCCS was launched on Jan. 1 after three years and tens of billions of won in development (US$1=W939).

The system connects the JCS with the operations commands of Korea's Army, Navy and Air Force. It allows top military leaders a thorough understanding of the deployment of all weapons and troops of all three military branches at the same time.

Combat situations can be uploaded to the system in the form of photographs, videos and graphics. Reporting, commanding and intelligence-sharing can be done in real time. Military leaders in the situation room can make judgments on battlefield conditions as they evolve and immediately issue commands to subordinate units.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 8 2008] Movie Audiences Decline for 1st Time in 12 Yrs

Korean movie theaters saw their audience numbers fall last year for the first time in 12 years. According to a report on the film industry in 2007 by multiplex chain CJ CGV on Monday, the number of moviegoers declined by 9.2 million or 5.5 percent to 157.5 million in 2007 from 166.7 million in 2006.

This is the first time that the total number of viewers has fallen since 1996, when the figure dropped by 6.5 percent from the previous year.

The biggest reason for the decline is believed to be the quantitative and qualitative stagnation of the Korean film industry, but there are concerns that the theater business itself may have reached a saturation point.

The report said that some 20 million more viewers watched foreign movies in 2007 than in 2006, while the audience for Korean movies decreased by around 27 million.

Korean movies occupied 50.8 percent of the total market in 2007, a fall from 64.7 percent in 2006 and the lowest level since 2002 (48.3 percent).
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 7 2008] Slim Displays to Loom Large at Vegas Electronics Show

Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony and Panasonic will be among electronics giants showing off their newest display products at the world’s biggest electronics show that opens in Las Vegas on Monday. The International Consumer Electronics Show 2008 is expected to see a trend for ever slimmer products. Liquid crystal and plasma display panels have gotten much thinner, equipped with wider screens but a mere 4-5 cm thick. Many new products will be unveiled as well, including Samsung’s active-matrix light-emitting diodes (AMOLED) TV and Matsushita’s laser TV.

◆ Digital TVs
◆ Convergence products
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 4 2008] Qualcomm Injunction May Hit Korean Handset Makers

The Financial Times reported Thursday that Qualcomm, the world's leading chipset supplier for mobile phones, has warned its customers against possible damages after losing a patent dispute with Broadcom.


Samsung and LG Electronics said they have purchased a two to three months supply of the chipsets and they do not expect a significant impact from the ruling because they can continue selling handsets made with the chipsets in the U.S.

Last year Samsung sold some 30 million handsets in the U.S., 10 percent of which were 3G WCDMA phones of the sort affected by Monday's ruling.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 4 2007] The Shameless Gov’t Information Agency

Briefing the presidential Transition Committee on Thursday, the Government Information Agency claimed that its attempt to close down press rooms at government ministries and force reporters to move to a handful of briefing centers was “in line with global standards” even if its original purpose had lost luster by protests from the press. GIA officials claimed the measure was necessary to provide reporters with information and to make the process of disclosing information transparent.

It conceded that a hostile relationship had developed with the press over the measure, reducing its positive effect and making it difficult for the public to realize the need for the steps. But the GIA said its efforts to publicize state affairs had actually improved during the Roh Moo-hyun administration due to strengthened efforts to reach out to the public.


Actually, not many people are interested in whether the GIA will continue to exist or not -- the press and the public believe the truth will prevail in the end. But fancy such an offer, after serving five years as the lapdog of a media-hostile president!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, January 4 2007] Who is KBS President Jung Yun-joo?

In his New Year’s address, KBS President Jung Yun-joo said “arrogant and domineering powers” must be subject to “ruthless criticism.” The Roh Moo-hyun administration chose a truly noble individual to lead the state-run broadcaster: nobody had ever imagined such words would come out of Jung’s own mouth.

Who is Jung? He is the man who orchestrated 48 hours of non-stop broadcasts to stir up opposition against efforts to impeach President Roh, when the motion to oust him was passed by the National Assembly. Who is Jung? He stood at the vanguard of the Roh administration’s efforts to deny the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea by broadcasting dramas, made with taxpayer’s money and aired on public airwaves, that portrayed the founders of our country as collaborators with the Japanese. Who is Jung? Trying to match the anti-American sentiment of the elite within the Roh administration, Jung tried to fool the public by authorizing the broadcast of a one-hour documentary on Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez that praised him as a freedom fighter resisting neo-liberalism and as a role model for Koreans.


And from the very mouth of this man came the words that arrogant and domineering powers must be subject to ruthless criticism. Words fail. Jung must think that the public is blind and deaf. He seems afraid of nothing: the public should teach him a lesson.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 4 2007] How Ji Sung Discovered a New Side to Himself

In the on-call room for cardiothoracic surgery residents on the set of MBC medical drama “New Heart” in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, Ji Sung, who plays careless trouble-making resident Lee Eun-seong, is smiling. The new drama got off to a good start with 20 percent ratings after three episodes. Besides Lee Eun-seong, it features all the usual characters of any medial drama, including chief Choi Gang-gook who overwhelms residents with his charisma, woman resident Nam Hye-seok, who is strong but arrogant, and Min Yeong-gyu, who has political ambitions and suffers from an inferiority complex.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 4 2007] LG.Phillips LCD Develops Hi-Res Flexible Display

The development of a high-resolution color flexible display may herald an era of electronic newspapers that can be rolled up and stuck in a pocket. Unlike liquid crystal displays or plasma display panels used in monitors, flexible displays could be used for portable electronic newspapers or books because they can be rolled up or folded.

LG.Phillips LCD said Thursday that it has developed a 14.3-inch color flexible display with resolution of 1280x800, an industry record. The resolution is four times that of existing products, a company source said. Electronic books and newspapers made from the new display would be completely legible, the source added.

Able to show some 16 million colors, the display is expected to be used for image-rich encyclopedias, comic books and textbooks. It is the first color flexible display with such high resolution, although there have been black-and-white flexible displays with higher resolution.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 3 2007] Handset Makers Bet On Budget Phones

Korea's mobile phone makers are adopting low-price strategies in their efforts to dominate the local and overseas markets. At home they're selling handsets for almost nothing through subsidy programs, and overseas they're introducing reasonably-priced phones costing around US$100.

Samsung Electronics' Anycall SCH-W330 and SPH-W3300 phones released last month are now available for between W1 and W1,000 (US$1=W933) from some resellers and online retailers. Other models, including the Anycall SCH-W290 and SPH W2900 phones, worth around W400,000, can also be found for W1 to W1,000, as can LG Electronics' Cyon SH170 phone.

The low prices are possible through subsidy programs through which Korea's two leading mobile operators, SK Telecom and KTF, offer subsidies of around W400,000 to attract more subscribers. These handsets are 3G wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) phones with some high-tech features more typical of premium models. They include video calling, high speed data transmission, wireless Internet, automatic roaming, digital cameras and Bluetooth.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 2 2007] Telecoms Miffed at Pressure to Slash Fees

Telecom service providers are disgruntled that the authorities will force them to cut their hefty charges for mobile phone use after the presidential Transition Committee announced a plan to slash oil taxes and lower mobile phone fees as a way to help the people save living costs.

The telecom industry criticized the incoming government for intervening in the fee-setting process of corporations despite ostensibly championing business-friendly policies. The Transition Committee on Sunday laid out a scheme to cut mobile phone charges by 20 percent and the Information and Communication Ministry is already promoting a revision of laws to stimulate the introduction of mobile virtual network operators (MVNO).

Once that happens, telecom providers will face stiff competition to lower mobile fees. MVNOs are companies without their own telecommunication networks that would provide the service by leasing the facilities from the big telecom firms like SK Telecom. A ministry official predicted the measure will trigger drastic fee reductions as telecom providers compete to stay in play. He said the measure could go into effect in the first half of the year if it gets parliamentary approval in January.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 2 2007] LG Develops Mobile TV Technology for North America

LG Electronics has developed mobile TV technology for U.S., Canadian and Mexican markets to watch terrestrial digital broadcasts on cell phones or navigators while on the move. LG invested W7 billion (US$1=W933) in developing the technology called mobile pedestrian handheld over the last two years. It conducted dozens of field tests for the technology in North America.

The newly developed technology is different form the existing mobile TV services like Korea’s DMB, Europe’s DVB-H and North America’s Medio FLO. The company claims it offers clear high-definition images at a speed of up to 90 km/h, but the significant point is that it doesn’t require additional frequencies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. All that is needed is an upgrade of the existing broadcasting equipment. LG Electronics will make a demonstration of the new technology at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 2 2007] Sports Car Phones Have Consumers' Pulses Racing

A few months ago a message posted in an online mobile phone-lovers club became the talk of cyberspace. "I want your opinion," it said. "Which do you think better -- to buy a Ferrari phone or an imported car that is a bit more expensive than the phone? I think carrying a Ferrari phone would make me look cool."

The luxury phone is the Ascent Ferrari 60 produced by Vertu, an affiliate of the world's largest handset maker Nokia. It costs some W24 million (US$1=W933). But Ferrari phones are not exclusive to Nokia. Motorola also produces a Ferrari series, competing with Nokia.


A noticeable trend in the IT industry has businesses eagerly forming partnerships with sports car makers. Nokia, which has led the market with reasonably-priced handsets, has introduced premium phones such as the Lamborghini Phone and the Aston Martin Phone.

Samsung Electronics has enhanced its image in Europe with the McLaren Phone. LG Electronics has appealed to Korean consumers in their 20s and 30s with the & FM37 New Beetle MP3 player costing some W200,000. Asus, a leading Taiwanese notebook maker, has also succeeded in gaining popularity with Lamborghini notebooks.

"It seems that the speed and power that sports cars represent match up well with IT products," an industry source said. "Such phones can make users feel as if they have a sports car worth hundreds of million of won in their hand, but costing much less money."
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 2 2007] Cultural Contents Emerge as Big Money Makers

In 2008 several businesses plan to continue exploring the value of cultunomics, a term that refers to the use of cultural contents as a tool for generating profits.

Hana Financial Group will expand its efforts to use art for marketing strategies. It not only has an advertisement inspired by American pop artist Andy Warhol but it has also named one of its products Bigpot, after an art work by a French plastics artist.

KT&G carries out cultural projects as part of its marketing efforts, including an advertising contest, concerts and inline skating festivals.

Cultunomics started gaining popularity last year. Some cultural contents made it onto the top 10 list of hit products of 2007 compiled by the Samsung Economic Research Institute.

They included user created content (UCC), the TV show "Extreme Challenge," five-girl pop group the Wonder Girls and historical TV dramas.

The institute said that cultural contents have emerged as core products of the economy, while IT products, which had led the list since 2000, began to dwindle in popularity.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 2 2007] Alert Issued for Chinese Cyberattacks

South Korean military security authorities have sounded an urgent alert over China-based hackers persistently seeking access to computers belonging to South Korean soldiers. Some soldiers' private information, not military secrets, has already been leaked in such an attack.

While the South Korean military has its own closed computer network, it also uses the open Internet for some activities. Authorities are trying to find out if some soldiers and officers are carelessly keeping secret military information on non-secure computers.

According to authorities on Tuesday, hackers believed to be operating from China have been seeking access to South Korean soldiers' computers by sending e-mails infected with hacking viruses to their private e-mail accounts.

An officer with the Defense Security Command said, "As Chinese hackers have several times sought access to our soldiers' computers, we have issued an alert to military units nationwide."
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 31 2007] Born in the Year of the Rat

In the Year of the Rat, Korean pop culture is led by those born in another, in 1972. Coincidence or cosmic determination? Readers may decide for themselves. Known as the “president of culture” in the 1990s, Seo Tai-ji releasef his 15th anniversary album in November in a limited edition of 15,000 copies that sold out in no time. He plans to make a comeback after four quiet years next year.


The reason stars in their late 30s carry such heavy weight in the entertainment industry is that they grew on the rich cultural foundations of the mid- and late 1990s, when pop culture saw an explosive growth and survived fierce competition. It was a time when various new media -- cable, satellite and the Internet emerged and domestic contents outnumbered foreign contents, so they had more opportunities to work and exposure when they began to be recognized as rising actors and actresses in their 20s. Many of them used this advantage wisely to secure their position as an entertainer, creator and even businesspeople when the pop culture market went through industrialization.

“In Korean society, there was a weakening of Puritanism and growing interest in pop culture from the mid 1990s,” says Prof. Hwang Yong-suk of Mass Communication Department at Konkuk University. “Stars born in 1972 are beneficiaries of those changes in the social atmosphere.”
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 31 2007] Nat'l Assembly Passes Bill on IPTV

The National Assembly passed a bill on Internet Protocol Television on Friday, paving the way for the launch of the new media service in Korea next year.

IPTV is a next-generation broadcasting technology that uses Internet protocol instead of radio waves to deliver programs. The service is interactive, so viewers can use it to search for information for items they see on TV and even buy them without interrupting the program they are watching.

So far, KT, Hanaro Telecom and LG Dacom have provided video-on-demand services through their Mega TV, Hana TV, and My LG TV services, respectively, without relevant laws.

Right now these services offer TV programs several hours or days after terrestrial broadcasters have first relayed them. The passage of the bill means programs from terrestrial broadcasters can be made available on the Internet at the same time they are broadcast.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 28 2007] Chosun Ilbo President to Lead Korean IPI for Second Term

Chosun Ilbo President Bang Sang-hoon will continue to serve as the head of the Korean chapter of the International Press Institute. The Korean IPI Committee at a meeting of its board of directors on Thursday reconfirmed Bang to a second two-year term. The Vienna-based IPI is a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 28 2007] Samsung SDI Builds 31-Inch AMOLED Screen

Samsung SDI has become the world's first display maker to develop a 31-inch active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) screen.

AMOLEDs, which emit light when electricity is applied to organic materials, produce brighter and clearer images than liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and plasma display panels (PDPs).

Global screen makers are scrambling to develop AMOLED products, with Sony's 27-inch AMOLED screen being the largest one developed until now.

Samsung Electronics will reportedly showcase a 31-inch TV made from the new AMOLED screen at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early next month.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 27 2007] The Top 10 National News of 2007

◆ Lee Myung-bak elected president
◆ Korea-U.S. FTA
◆ Second inter-Korean summit
◆ Fund frenzy and 2,000-point stock index
◆ The downfall of Roh aides
◆ Hosting international events
◆ Press rooms nailed down ‘with big nails’
◆ Korean missionaries kidnapped in Afghanistan
◆ The worst oil spill in Korean history
◆ Chaos in education policy
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 27 2007] Yahoo, ESTsoft Offer Free Anti-Virus Programs

Some Internet companies are now offering free vaccine programs that can detect and treat computer viruses in real time.

Yahoo Korea said Wednesday that it will provide a free service to detect and treat viruses in real time through its Yahoo Toolbar application.

While the company has offered a free anti-virus program since September, the real-time detection function is new and a first for an Internet portal.

ESTsoft, a software developer, said it will start distributing its new vaccine program Alyac for free starting Thursday. Anyone who wants to use it can download it from the company's website (
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 27 2007] Cheong Wa Dae Won not a Single Media Lawsuit

During the five years of the current administration, Cheong Wa Dae has not won a single one of the 22 civil and criminal lawsuits it brought against the media.

The Chosun Ilbo's analysis of data submitted Wednesday by Cheong Wa Dae to the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee shows Cheong Wa Dae filed a total of 19 civil lawsuits against the press over the past five years. It lost five of them and withdrew nine. Four cases were settled in compulsory mediation and one is pending.

The presidential office also filed three criminal complaints against newspapers. In two cases, no charges were brought and in the third the newspaper was indicted but acquitted.

President Roh himself filed five lawsuits against the press and withdrew four. The fifth was settled in mediation. All five targeted the Chosun Ilbo. Newspapers critical of the government were often targeted in the suits: besides the Chosun Ilbo (eight), they included the Dong-A Ilbo (five) and the Munhwa Ilbo (one). There were none against TV networks.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 27 2007] Korea Readies Nation's 1st Bullet Train

The government will hold a presentation to mark the completion of the nation's first bullet train at Gwangmyeong Station on Thursday, 11 years after the project began.

The train has been in testing since 2002 and has logged around 200,000 km on the rails without a single accident.

In December 2004 it set a Korean railway speed record of 352.4 km/h, according to an official from the Ministry of Construction and Transportation.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 27 2007] Fixed Phone Line Users Allowed to Switch to Internet

Starting early next year fixed-line phone users can switch over to Internet-based phones without having to change their number.

The Information and Communication Ministry announced on Wednesday that a new rule on number portability will be applied in a bid to lighten household phone bills.

Under the current rules, for users to switch to relatively low-cost Internet-based phone service they must first cancel their number and take a Web-based number using the 0-7-0 prefix.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 26 2007] Was ‘UCC’ a Storm in a Teacup?

This may sound irrelevant, but in my office I sometimes listen to a regular lecture by Marti Hearst, an associate professor in the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley on "Search Engines: Technology, Society, and Business." I can download his latest 1-hour-40-minute lecture files by connecting an iPod to my notebook. Strapped with earphones, I can feel as if I were in a lecture hall of UC Berkeley.


One of the keywords in Korean society this year was "UCC", short for “user-created content.” It was to be nothing short of a media revolution: ordinary people, so the idea was, would no longer be passive consumers of information but become active creators, making their own using camcorders or blogging. Early this year, all presidential hopefuls launched UCC teams in the firm conviction that the presidential election would be determined on the Internet.

It was not to be. Just as the BBK investment scandal, which was to be the “single stroke” felling Grand National Party candidate Lee Myung-bak, proved a damp squib, so the online efforts had no tangible impact on the campaign. One presidential candidate who had overwhelming support in the "blogosphere" ended up winning far fewer votes than expected.

Korean service providers are still racking their brains for ways to make ends meet, though they invested massively in anticipation of booming business during the presidential election campaign. Some people suspect it was just a passing fad in the IT industry and “UCC” a storm in a teacup.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 26 2007] Korean Operatic Couple to Star at Covent Garden

A Korean soprano and tenor are going to sing the leading roles in Puccini’s "La Boheme" at the prestigious Royal Opera House, also known as Covent Garden, in London.

The production, which is to open in September next year, will feature tenor Kim Woo-kyung (30) as Rodolfo and soprano Hong Hye-kyung (48) as Mimi. The two are the first Koreans to sing the leading roles together in the Royal Opera House' 270-year history.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 26 2007] Hackers Target Korean, Japanese Gamers

Korean and Japanese Internet companies are under attack by hackers who are using malicious codes to steal the personal information of Internet users.

AhnLab, a security software company, said Monday that a study of ten security threats in 2007 revealed a growing number of hacking incidents affecting Internet game sites. The hackers pilfer users' personal information to steal virtual goods to trade for money.

"There is a 'cyber black market' where virtual valuables like game items are exchanged for cash," a company staffer said. "Because game users' IDs, credit card numbers and other personal information are frequently traded in this cyber black market, the problem is getting bigger."
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 24 2007] Adultery, Evil Mothers-in-Law: Korean Soaps in 2007

The hottest topics in Korean TV soaps in 2007 were adultery and conflicts between woman and her mother-in-law, and the resolutions were inevitably physical.

Viewers were treated to cheating spouses being cursed, kicked in the stomach and hit over the head with a washboard. The stock conflict between women and their mothers-in-law also reached new heights of intensity on TV.

◆ Coming to blows
◆ Nasty mothers-in-law
◆ Regressing
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 24 2007] Designer Park Jin-woo Stirs Comedy With Style

A few days ago an unusual Christmas tree was set up next to the Hammering Man kinetic sculpture in front of Heungkook Building in Gwanghwamun, Seoul. Called Christmas Factory, the tree features clockwork snowflakes and a phalanx of steel robots arranged around it.

"There might be a factory that churns out Christmas somewhere in the world that nobody knows about," said designer Park Jin-woo, 34, as he fiddled with his fake Warhol-imprinted Louis Vuitton wallet.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 21 2007] WiBro Technology Allows Journalists to Work Faster

The reason Koreans were able to follow seemingly every movement of Lee Myung-bak after his election is wireless broadcasting, or WiBro, technology. Reporters trailed Lee on motorcycles, videotaping his every move like paparazzi. They then quickly transmitted their video footage to their networks by simply connecting their cameras to laptop computers.

What made that quick transmission possible was WiBro, which can send data at speeds of up to 24.8 Mbps, which is as fast as high-speed Internet connections used at home. With WiBro, users can send data even while traveling in a car moving at speeds of more than 60 km/h.

Satellite or optic cable systems are usually used to transmit data for broadcasting, but they need a relay vehicle or an expensive portable image compressor. WiBro enables massive amounts of data to be sent using laptops or handset-sized terminals at remarkably fast speeds, allowing users greater mobility.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 21 2007] Online Shopping Services Make Christmas Shopping Global

With Christmas around the corner department stores in the U.S. and Europe are holding massive sales, and the discounts grow bigger with the approach of Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.

Sales at overseas stores meant nothing to Koreans just a few years ago, but things have changed. Now Koreans can shop at those stores from home thanks to Internet shopping malls, which have staff overseas that buy from stores and ship the goods to customers in Korea. That means these online malls can hold sales that coincide with sales at overseas stores.

Meanwhile, more and more Koreans are shopping directly with overseas online retailers. Baby products and cosmetics are the most popular items. But Koreans who want to shop with overseas Internet malls should first make sure that they will ship to Korea and can accept credit cards from foreigners. Another problem is that if the product has a defect it's not easy to get a refund or an exchange. It's usually smarter to use sites that are reliable -- those with more traffic -- rather than those that offer cheap prices.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 21 2007] Korean Researchers Develop Better Video Compressor

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute said Thursday that it has developed an ultra low-power H.264 encoder, which can compress full high-density video. The new technology offers 50 percent greater compression and uses 40 percent less power than the existing MPEG4 encoder.

That means camcorders and digital cameras that use the new encoder could use about 70 percent less battery power than existing devices. H.264 compresses video images to one-two hundredth of their original size for storage on a hard disk, while MPEG4 reduces them to one-one hundredth of their original size.

Dr. Park Sung-mo, who developed the technology, said that the success of technologies for mobile video devices lies in reducing power consumption. "The new technology is a prototype, and will be used for digital devices from next year," he said.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 21 2007] Why Korea Reverses the Fortunes of Hollywood Movies

Around 6,000 people have watched “Wild Hogs” in Korea, some 60,000 checked out “Chuck and Larry”, but a staggering 1.35 million have seen “August Rush.” This may puzzle some in the U.S., where “August Rush” ranked a modest 77th in terms of box office takings and made US$28.48 million as of December 20. “Wild Hogs” by contrast raked in $168.27 million to become no. 10 at the U.S. box office but closed within a week of opening in Korea. What is it that reverses the films’ fortunes here?


So what makes a movie a hit or a failure in Korea? Experts point to familiar storylines and music. “Dramas that succeed in Korea are usually those with Cinderella-type stories in which characters prevail against heavy odds,” said Prof. Sim Eun-jin of Chungju University’s film studies department. “The general public tends to be drawn to romantic love stories with clear changes in emotion.” Some think that Korean viewers are trying to find something in foreign films that they can’t in Korean ones. “Japanese literature and foreign independent films like ‘Once’ are attracting people in their early to mid-20s, especially women in Korea,” said Hong Seong-nam, a movie critic. “Not many domestic films feature the fun and inspiration of everyday lives, and this seems to prompt Korean viewers to turn to overseas.”

American comedies, on the other hand, are almost always a disaster here.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 21 2007] Lee to Ring in Era of 'Development'

President-elect Lee Myung-bak said Thursday the nation should pursue development as the next goal after the industrialization of the 1960s and 70s and democratization of the 80s and 90s. In his first post-election press conference, Lee pledged to introduce a new development system and usher in a “great age” of economic development, improved quality of life, with the benefits of economic growth going to ordinary people. He promised to run a “practical and creative” government.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 21 2007] Genesis Is Posh, But Facing Tough Market

At a press showcase for Hyundai Motor’s Genesis luxury sedan at the company's research and development center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province early this month, reporters held their breath with expectation when the much-anticipated car was unveiled alongside other world-class premium sedans, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class 350 and the BMW 530i.


The Genesis comes equipped with many state-of-the-art features. Smart cruise control uses a radar device to measure the distance of the car ahead to keep the Genesis at a proper distance. Adaptive headlamps equipped with an electric motor for each lamp position the focus of the light according to driving speed and turn direction. A Harmenbecker Lexicon sound system, found in the esteemed Rolls-Royce, provides the new car with top acoustic quality.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 21 2007] Jo Su-mi on the Hardships of a Diva's Life

What is the most difficult part of a world-class soprano’s life? In a press conference at the Kumho Art Hall on Thursday, Jo Su-mi revealed it is traveling. “When I go on tour, I have to keep myself to a hotel because I’m afraid to get sick. Especially in winter, I am so worried about catching a cold or sore throat that I never go out and often leave three humidifiers on in a hotel room,” she confessed. “I also find it difficult to get my energy back after I gave my all to an audience in a performance. I chose to be a singer, yet still I had to make many sacrifices.” This is why she always longs to go back home to Rome.

Monday, January 07, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, December 20 2007] New Trends in the Music Industry in 2007

SG Wannabe’s fourth album, which boasts the largest sales this year, sold only about 190,000 times. That is the clearest indication yet that music has moved from store-bought recording to cyberspace. When the form changes, content changes too. This year, Koreans have witnessed rapid changes in Korean pop music, because the preferences of a public who consume music in units of songs rather than albums demand a new approach. Here, the Chosum Ilbo assembles seven key words of Korean pop music based on a survey of 10 music producers and critics.

◆ Girl singers
◆ New idols
◆ Independent music
◆ Catchy tunes
◆ Concerts at small theaters
◆ Memories of the 1990s
◆ The power of video
At the center of Wonder Girls’ “Tell Me” syndrome lies power of netizens who uploaded videos that show them dancing to “Tell Me.” Music fans are no longer passive audiences: they reproduce and spread their thoughts on pop music and thus contribute to the success or failure of a song.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 19 2007] Medal of Merit Awarded to Media Secretary

President Roh Moo-hyun has decided to award a medal of merit to presidential media secretary Yang Jeong-chul, praising the "creativity and diligence" he showed in his official duties. The decision, which also included the awarding of medals and accolades to 206 other public servants, was passed at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday presided over by President Roh.

Yang is a celebrity among public servants -- much more famous than most government ministers. That's not because of his rank, but his power. Vice ministers who have more experience and rank above Yang, are often chided by him. Yang's power comes from President Roh. Many Koreans remember Yang for his accomplishments resulting from his "creativity and diligence" and the confidence the president has placed in him.


A few days ago Yang made a personal visit to the Ministry of National Defense and criticized the vice defense minister for being too slow in closing down the ministry's pressroom. The Cheong Wa Dae Briefing, a pseudo-news Internet website serving as an unbridled mouthpiece of the government, has become Yang's personal notebook where he posts his erroneous ideas at whim. The presidential office has lauded Yang's stubborn insistence on pursuing such unjust policies, viewing those acts as "diligence."


In awarding Yang the medal, perhaps what the president really wanted was to tell the public that he and Yang plan to do whatever they want, no matter what anyone says.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 18 2007] The Death Throes of the Roh Administration

The Defense Ministry on Sunday cut off electricity and heat to the ministry press room reporters had been using to file articles. Then it stationed military police to keep reporters from entering the building. The reporters who remain inside the pressroom are writing their articles on cold floors, by candlelight. Last Wednesday, reporters resisting eviction at the pressroom of the National Police Agency were told a lie to lure them outdoors, whereupon police officials padlocked the doors. The police set up security checkpoints and remote-controlled doors to the entrance of NPA headquarters and posted guards there to regulate the entry of reporters.

Until the day he leaves office, President Roh Moo-hyun is pouring his last remaining strength into closing down press rooms at government ministries where reporters used to write and file articles. Many Koreans wonder how Korea would have changed if the president had used that tenacity to revive the country instead.


In his war against the news media, Roh used the presidential secretary and the Government Information Agency as his right and left hands and placed the National Tax Service, traditionally the hitman of presidential administrations, and the Fair Trade Commission at his side and issued an order to all government workers. He nudged public servants to wage war against the news media, saying their performance and promotions will depend on how many battles they wage against reporters.

As a result, until October this year, government ministries filed a total of 715 complaints over news articles, requiring mediation by the Press Arbitration Commission. That’s more than six times the 118 complaints filed during the administration of Kim Dae-jung.


The page of history is about to turn. No matter how insane the night may have been, the clarity of the morning will inevitably come. We are relieved to find that the racket of the press rooms being nailed shut is actually the receding roar of an insane interlude. A long, long night is finally about to end.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 18 2007] Koreans Researching Human Body as Data Cable

You're holding your MP3 player in one hand and your computer in the other, and music files stored on the PC are being passed to the music player -- through your body. It sounds like a scene from a science fiction movie, but the technology is real.

Japanese telecommunications giant NTT has succeeded in transmitting MP3 files without a cable through the human body and several Korean companies are busy researching and developing similar technologies with an eye to profiting from them.

According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office on Monday, in 2004 there was just one patent application for technology to transmit files such as photos, video clips and MP3s between portable gadgets like mobile phones, digital cameras and MP3 players. That figure grew to nine in 2005 and 25 in 2006. In 2007, 14 such patents had been applied for as of September. Of those, Koreans have applied for 69 percent and foreigners have applied for the rest.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute is one of the Korean organizations that is researching and developing technologies that utilize the human body as a vehicle for data transmission.

"We're researching technologies that can transmit data through human body as fast as existing broadband Internet connections, with speeds of 10 megabits per second," said ETRI's Dr. Kang Sung-won.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 18 2007] Plenty of Fresh Bidders for Daewoo Electronics

A larger-than-expected number of bidders have lined up to take over Daewoo Electronics. According to the creditors of the appliance maker, 10 domestic and foreign bidders submitted a letter of intent to the accounting firm Samil PricewaterhouseCoopers, which oversees the takeover.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 18 2007] Plenty of Fresh Bidders for Daewoo Electronics

A larger-than-expected number of bidders have lined up to take over Daewoo Electronics. According to the creditors of the appliance maker, 10 domestic and foreign bidders submitted a letter of intent to the accounting firm Samil PricewaterhouseCoopers, which oversees the takeover.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 18 2007] Hwang Trying to Resume Stem Cell Research

The cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk, whose status as a national hero unraveled when he was found to have faked research that gave hope to millions of sufferers from incurable diseases, is apparently attempting a comeback. The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Monday the Suam Bioengineering Research Institute, a nonprofit lab known as Hwang’s research base in Korea, submitted a research plan on embryo cloning using somatic cells -- the very procedure Hwang falsely claimed to have perfected. Hwang is included as an ordinary researcher rather than team leader, according to Yang Byung-guk, a ministry director in charge of bioethics safety.
[The Chosun Ilbo, December 18 2007] UCC Named Top Product of 2007

User created content, or UCC, has been chosen as the best hit product of the year, according to a survey released by the Samsung Economic Research Institute on Monday.

The institute came up with a top 10 list of the year's best products based on a survey of 10,142 Internet users.

The list included the China Fund, teenage sports stars Kim Yu-na and Park Tae-hwan, historical dramas such as "Dae Joyoung" and "Taewangsashingi(The Four Guardian Gods of the King)," cash management accounts (CMA), MBC entertainment show "Extreme Challenge", corn silk drink, five-girl pop group the Wonder Girls, Blemish Balm cosmetic cream and wine.

Cultural products were very popular this year, the institute noted, while unlike Japan and the U.S. where Apple's iPhone and other IT gadgets were included hit product lists, no IT devices made it on to the Korean list.