Friday, February 15, 2008

[ News, Economy / Industry, December 30 2008] Gyeongsangbuk-do Revving up growth engine for high-tech firms

Gyeongsangbuk-do is drawing international attention as a region with development potential, as high-tech global companies and energy developers are arriving here seeking sustainable business growth.

Located near major metropolitan cities Daegu and Ulsan and the resource-rich East Sea, the province received the 2007 Presidential Award on Foreign Company Day, Nov. 1. The award recognized the province’s effort in improving its infrastructure and attracting foreign investors to the region.

Gyeongsangbuk-do has seen a total of $2.9 billion of year-on-year investment in the region as of July. Its foreign investment -- $1.14 billion -- accounted for almost 40 percent of all investment locally, according to the province’s data.
[ News, Economy / Industry, December 27 2008] Hynix Semiconductor to spend 147 billion won on chip production

Hynix Semiconductor, the world’s second-largest maker of computer memory chips, said Thursday (Dec. 27) it plans to spend 147.1 billion won (US$157 million) to expand production of memory chips.

The investment is not part of the 4.4 trillion won of capital spending earmarked for this year, an official at Hynix said.

The additional spending is to "meet demand and strengthen cost competitiveness," the official said.
[ News, Economy / Industry, December 27 2008] Samsung Electronics countersues Japan's Sharp over LCD

Samsung Electronics, Asia’s largest technology company, said Thursday (Dec. 27) it has countersued Sharp Corp. over the Japanese rival’s alleged infringement of liquid crystal display (LCD) patents and unfair trade practices.

The complaint filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission on Dec. 21 marks the latest salvo in the legal battle over LCD patents between Samsung and Sharp, as competition is intensifying over flat-screen televisions amid a steep fall in panel prices.

In a statement, Samsung claimed Sharp and its two U.S. affiliates sold LCD products that infringe four of the Korean company’s U.S. patents.

Separately, Samsung said it has filed federal lawsuits in the states of Delaware and Texas against Sharp for the alleged infringements.

In addition, Samsung said it sought an injunction against Sharp in the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday, aimed at halting sales of the Japanese company’s LCD TVs that infringe on two patents owned by Samsung.
[ News, Economy / Industry, December 23 2008] LG Telecom follows market leaders in message service rate cut

LG Telecom, Korea’s smallest mobile carrier, said Sunday (Dec. 23) that it will lower its short message service (SMS) fees next year, a move that follows the recent decisions of bigger rivals to cut the rates many customer groups say are "too expensive."

Starting Jan. 1, LG Telecom’s 7.74 million subscribers will be able to send an SMS at 20 won (2.1 cents) per message, down from the previous 30 won, the company said in statement. LG Telecom also said that it will reduce the fees for long message service (LMS) from 60 won to 40 won next year.
[ News, Economy / Industry, December 20 2008] LG Telecom to spend 346.7 bil. won on network, new company building

LG Telecom Ltd., Korea’s smallest mobile carrier, said Thursday (Dec. 20) that it will invest 346.7 billion won ($368.9 million) in improving its communications network and constructing a new company building in Seoul next year.

The investment will be completed by the first half of 2008, the company said in a regulatory filing.

LG Telecom is the nation’s smallest mobile carrier following SK Telecom Co. and KTF Co.. It has 7.74 million customers or 17.9 percent of the nation’s 43 million mobile phone users.
[ News, Economy / Industry, December 18 2008] Hyundai Motor mulls developing plug-in hybrid car

Hyundai Motor, Korea’s largest automaker, said Tuesday (Dec. 18) it is considering developing a plug-in hybrid car, a move expected to follow bigger rivals such as Japan’s Toyota Motor and General Motors of the United States.

Hyundai is studying ways to develop the next-generation hybrid car that can be recharged at home electric outlets, but no decision has been made yet, said a company official.
[ News, Foreign Relations, February 15 2008] Seoul, Washington agree to boost information exchange

South Korea and the United States signed an agreement Friday (Feb. 15) that will help boost cooperation between their militaries in information and communication technologies, the Defense Ministry said.

The agreement was signed by South Korea’s Choi Kwang-sup, head of the Defense Ministry’s resource management headquarters, and John G. Grimes, assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration.

The sealed document calls for increased cooperation between the countries’ militaries in the information technology sector while also calling for an annual forum of their information-communication officials.
[ News, Foreign Relations, December 21 2008] Russia to offset debts to S. Korea by transferring weapons technology

South Korea will receive advanced weapon technology from Russia as part of Moscow’s repayment of its debts to Seoul, defense officials here said Friday (Dec. 21).

Russia still owes $1.3 billion from the time the former Soviet Union borrowed bilions of dollars from Korea ahead of the normalization of relations in 1990 between the two former Cold War foes.

The former Soviet Union sided with its communist ally North Korea in the three-year Korean War launched by the North in 1950.

However, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced reforms and openness in the late 1980s, paving the way for Moscow’s normalization of ties with South Korea and other Western countries.

"We signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia on the method of repaying the debts," a spokesman at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said.
[ News, Nation, February 5 2008] Koreas' separated families exchange video messages

Korean families separated for more than a half century by the division of Korea Tuesday (Feb. 5) exchanged videos through the Red Cross in a pilot project that is planned to run on a regular basis, the Unification Ministry said.

Red Cross officials of the two Koreas exchanged videotaped messages from the 40 separated families -- 20 each from the South and North -- through liaison officers at the truce village of Panmunjeom, the ministry said in a press release.

Sixty separated families will be allowed to send video messages once every three months starting in March, according to the ministry.
[ News, Nation, February 1 2008] Pres.-elect Discusses Yeosu World Expo with BIE Head

President-elect Lee Myung-bak requested international support and cooperation for the 2012 Yeosu World Expo from Vincente Gonzalez Loscertales, the head of the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE).

During the Seoul meeting with the BIE head on Thursday (Jan. 31), Lee expressed thanks for BIE support for Yeosu’s Expo bid and reaffirmed the government’s will to do its utmost to host the 2012 Yeosu World Expo as a successful international event, according to the presidential transition committee.

Prior to the meeting with Lee, the BIE head met Lee Kyung-sook, the head of the presidential transition committee. Loscertales told the transition team head that he will make efforts to help Yeosu host a successful international event.
[ News, Nation, February 1 2008] President-elect receives Time magazine environment award

President-elect Lee Myung-bak received an award on Friday (Feb. 1) for being one of TIME magazine’s Heroes of the Environment for 2007.

The U.S. magazine began giving "Heroes of the Environment" awards in 2006 to selected world leaders who greatly contributed to enhancing the environment by solving related issues.

The awardees include Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the Soviet Union, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Prince Charles of the United Kingdom.

Time magazine selected Lee in May 2006 for the restoration of Cheonggyecheon stream in downtown Seoul, which had been covered over during the 1960s, in order to make the city green and more environmentally-friendly during his term as Seoul’s mayor from 2002 to 2006. Lee’s reform of the city’s transportation system also received global praise.
[ News, Nation, January 16 2008] New gov't plans to turn reclaimed land into logistics hub

Korea’s incoming administration plans to transform into a new logistics hub of Northeast Asia a huge area of tidal flats being reclaimed on the country’s southwest coast, the presidential transition team said Wednesday (Jan. 16).

"A task force has drawn up a plan to reserve 70 percent of the tidal flats for industrial use once the reclamation project is completed by 2030," it said.

The Saemangeum project calls for reclaiming 28,000 hectares of mud flats about 270 kilometers southwest of Seoul for agricultural and industrial use. The original plan stipulates that only 30 percent of the tidal flats to be reclaimed would be earmarked for non-agricultural use.
[ News, Nation, January 15 2008] Inter-Korean complex to get Web connection

The inter-Korean industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Gaeseong is expected to get Internet connection this year.

South Korea’s Information and Communication Ministry and Unification Ministry reported to President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s transition committee Monday (Jan. 14) that they will push for an Internet communication center in Gaeseong, and nurture North Korean personnel in information technology.

In his presidential campaign, Lee pledged integration of the Korean Peninsula through information technology.

The Information Ministry said it wants to build a communication center in the Gaeseong complex within this year. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il agreed in their summit in October last year to build the center providing Internet and telephone service.

The ministry will also expand the communication network at Geumgansan (Mount Geumgang) and planned joint shipyard sites in the North Korean cities of Anbyon and Nampo. Over the long term, feasibility studies will be conducted on modernizing North Korea’s communication network.

Seoul will also build centers for inter-Korean IT cooperation and information access in the North to foster IT experts and strengthen joint studies in software development.

The Unification Ministry presented a two-phase plan for North Korea’s IT development. As the first step, the ministry will focus on raising the number of North Korean IT specialists through joint seminars on high IT technologies, such as voice recognition, computer animation and Linux.

The second step will be building IT infrastructure in key industrial cities in the North, but this is contingent on progress in Pyongyang’s denuclearization.
[ News, Nation, January 7 2008] U.N. ranks Korea among leading e-gov'ts

The United Nations has ranked Korea among the world leaders in e-government readiness and participation.

The Government Administration and Home Affairs Ministry said Sunday (Jan. 6) that the country ranked sixth last year in the U.N. Global E-government Readiness Index among 192 nations and second in the world body’s e-participation index among 189 nations.

The readiness index is a composite indicator comprising indices on measures for the Web, telecommunication infrastructure and human capital.

The participation index is a qualitative assessment of the quality, relevance and usefulness of government Web sites in providing online participatory tools to the people.

Sweden ranked first in global readiness, followed by Denmark, Norway, the United States and Netherlands. Korea was fifth in 2005.

The ministry said the country fell one notch because of no e-transaction systems in certain government Web sites; lack of links between Web sites of the central and provincial governments; and fewer credit points for the number of mobile phone subscribers and PC owners.
[ News, Nation, December 30 2007] Transition team to seek reduction of oil taxes, mobile phone charges before Feb. 25

The transition team of President-elect Lee Myung-bak said Sunday (Dec. 30) it will pursue reduction of oil taxes and mobile phone charges through consultations with the Roh Moo-hyun administration before the incoming government takes power on Feb. 25.

"We’ve decided to implement the tasks which can be done before the launch of the new government," said Lee Dong-kwan, spokesman for the transition team. "We will try to reduce the oil tax by 10 percent and discount the mobile phone charges as soon as possible."


The country’s mobile carriers have faced criticism recently over the charges that they collect from subscribers. The Information Ministry has been in talks with three mobile operators to find ways to cut service charge rates.

According to government data, each household in Korea spends 6 percent of its total expenditure on telecommunications services. The amount is three times as high as the average of member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Around 60 percent of the service charges come for mobile phone bills.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, February 14 2008] New Gov't to Promote Alternative Energies

President-elect Lee Myung-bak's transition team has unveiled a plan to build an industrial complex for renewable energies production facilities.

The energy policy taskforce of the transition team's National Competitiveness Reinforcement Special Committee said that if Korea continues to consume as much energy as it does now, it will face an additional financial burden of W30 trillion (US$1=W946) once the Kyoto Protocol takes effect in 2013.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 14 2008] Time to Close Down Gov’t Propaganda Sites

The Government Information Agency’s portal site carried as its top story yesterday an explanatory article on a statement made by Lee Kyung-sook, the chairwoman of president-elect Lee Myung-bak’s Transition Committee, on the government reform plan. On its right is a regular column entitled “The Latest from the 17th Presidential Transition Committee.” But on the same day, the main news on the presidential briefing website was about President Roh Moo-hyun’s press conference criticizing the government reform plan and an attack on it by the office of the presidential secretary.

The contrasting behavior of the two government propaganda sites, which have been posing as news media over the last five years offering one-sided praises of the Roh administration and attacks against the opposition party, demonstrated clearly that we are in a period of a power transfer. The GIA led the way in cracking down on media freedom until the Roh administration entered its final days. And even though it is soon going to become just a part of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the GIA is voluntarily heaping praises on the new government, putting into practice a promise from officials to the Transition Committee that it would handle PR for the Lee Myung-bak administration before and after the inauguration. This type of behavior shows how truly one high-level GIA official spoke when he said that government workers have no soul.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 14 2008] Louvre Starts Korean Guides

The world’s most famous museum on Tuesday formally started a guide service in Korean. Until recently, foreign visitors to the Louvre in Paris had been able to use paid audio-guides only in six languages -- English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese. The Louvre added Korean when it introduced a state-of-the-art guide service using PDAs.

With the help of rental PDAs, Korean visitors can get help understanding some 600 of the most famous pieces in the museum's collection, including the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. The daily rental for a PDA is six euros (about W8,400). Koreans account for about 1 percent or about 80,000 of the museum’s 8.3 million annual visitors.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 14 2008] Dead Celebrities in Spotlight Again

South Korea's TV advertisers are turning their eyes to deceased celebrities as a new marketing strategy.

Hungkuk Ssangyong Fire and Marine Insurance debuted a new ad on Monday that stars the late "Emperor of Comedy" Lee Joo-il. "He was a great comedian, simple and unsophisticated, who could make people laugh and cry. The commercial was designed to appeal to viewers' hearts," the company said.

Chung Ju-young, the late founder and chairman of Hyundai Group, appears in a corporate ad for Hyundai Heavy Industries. The ad, which has been on air since Feb. 6, shows Chung lecturing at ChoongAng University in 1986. "The late chairman was a true pioneer and challenger. We tried to relay that image in our corporate ad," the shipbuilder said.

KTF, the nation's no. 2 wireless operator, attracted attention last year by casting the late Paik Nam-june, the world-renowned video artist, in a commercial for its Show 3G mobile service.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 13 2008] Park Tae-hwan Unveils High-Tech Olympic Swimsuit

Park Tae-hwan, the pride of Korean swimming, displayed his new swimsuit as a model at an event to promote the high-tech "LZR Racer" bodysuit by Speedo in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The new swimsuit is the product of three years of collaboration between the sporting goods company and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with the Beijing Olympic Games in mind.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 13 2008] LG.Philips LCD to Change Name to LG Display

LG.Philips LCD, a leading global flat panel maker, on Tuesday said it plans to change its name to LG Display, pending approval at its shareholders' meeting on Feb. 29.

"The plan reflects our determination to play a leading role in the next-generation display industry, including active-matrix OLED (AMOLED) screens and flexible displays, as well as LCDs," the company said.

LG.Philips LCD began to consider changing its name after Royal Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands, a partner in the joint venture, sharply reduced its stake in the firm recently.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 13 2008] IBM Mulls Setting Up R&D Center in Korea

IBM chairman and CEO Samuel Palmisano said Tuesday that the company will consider setting up a R&D center in Korea's International Science Business Belt (ISBB).

The ISBB, to be built by the incoming government, will serve as an international science and technology center, linking the Kongju-Yongi administrative town in South Chungcheong Province, the Daedeok Science Town in Daejeon Metropolitan City, and Osong-Ochang industrial complexes in North Chungcheong Province.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 13 2008] SNU Sees Interest in Sciences Rebound

Korea's top-ranked university has seen a rebound in the number of applicants interested in the sciences.

After official registration closed on Tuesday Seoul National University announced an additional 125 students were accepted as science majors to fill the spots of those who did not register.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 13 2008] Park Chan-wook Chooses Heroine for Vampire Movie

Acclaimed director Park Chan-wook has chosen Kim Ok-bin as the star of his next film "Evil Live."

The spotlight had been on just who the female star would be. The part involves many adult scenes alongside male heart throb Song Kang-ho, who claimed the main role in the international hit film "The Host."

"Evil Live" or "Bakjwi" in Korean is a melo-horror film of a human-turned-vampire's affair with a married woman.

Director Park, known for his award-winning film "Old Boy" and "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance", says he chose Kim for her unique talents that allow her to assume a vast range of characters.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 12 2008] The Wisdom of Chatham House Rules

The eighth International Conference on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees was held in London last month. Sponsored by the Korean NGO Citizens' Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, the Graduate School of International Studies at Korea University and Norway's Rafto Human Rights House Foundation, the meeting was held at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, better known as Chatham House.

At the venue I confronted an unexpected barrier to reporting, imposed by Chatham House Rules established in 1927. The rules have it that everyone can express themselves freely and share information at meetings held at Chatham House, but is banned from disclosing the discussions or attributing what is said there by name.

A British civil servant who delivered a paper at the conference forbade reporters from quoting him. Chatham House also ruled that the faces of participants should not be shown in close-up. We had to file our stories in a roundabout way, saying “a Norwegian expert” said this and "a British public official” said that.

Though it was an inconvenience, I felt I understood why anonymity is emphasized. Senior civil servants, who would normally keep their mouths tightly shut discussed the subjects freely. Presenters from European countries, the U.S. and South Korea ranged from North Korean refugees who scathingly criticized the Kim Jong-il regime, an academic who defended changes taking place in the North Korean government, to a senior diplomat who served as an ambassador in Pyongyang. Though none responded, letters of invitation were sent even to North Korean diplomats.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 12 2008] Samsung Elec. Most Favored Workplace in Korea

Samsung Electronics was found to be the most favored company among job seekers in Korea, followed by Kookmin Bank, Yuhan-Kimberly and POSCO.

According to a survey by job research firms Incruit and Embrain on some 2,200 college students, the world's largest electronics and IT company was voted Korea's best employer.

Samsung Electronics has in fact held most-favored status for five consecutive years with respondents citing high salaries and transparency in spending as reasons for favoring the firm.

Also among the top 10 were two airlines - Korean Air and Asiana - indicating a growing interest in the airline business among students.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 12 2008] 40% of Korean Web Users Run Blogs

A recent survey by the National Internet Development Agency reveals that nearly eight in 10 Koreans over the age of six use the Internet.

That's about 34 million people nationwide, and among them more than 80 percent use e-mail and 40 percent run their own blogs.

The survey also finds about 70 percent of Korean Internet users access at least one traditional media such as newspapers, movies and radio through the Web.

Internet usage grew between June 2006 and 2007 thanks in part to an 8 percentage point increase in access to the Web among people over 50.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 11 2008] What to Do With W230 Tril. in Gov't Projects

It looks like the new government will take on around W230 trillion-worth of major construction projects from the time it takes office later this month to 2011 (US$1=W942). No wonder many are worrying already about a looming shortage in construction materials.

Most of those are projects that have been initiated by the Roh Moo-hyun administration. There is the Multifunctional Administrative City, 10 "Innovation" cities, six "Enterprise" cities, 10 new towns in the capital region, free economic zones and a new headquarters for U.S. military forces in Korea to replace the existing one in Seoul. Also included on the list of large government construction projects are the Grand Canal and the development of the Saemangeum landfill.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 11 2008] Korean Firms Show Off New Phones in Barcelona

A major showcase for future mobile handsets and technologies, the Mobile World Congress 2008 takes place in Barcelona from Monday to Thursday. The congress is the world's biggest event for the mobile industry, bringing together the world's GSM service providers and mobile phone manufacturers. GSM is the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world, adopted by over 80 percent of the global market.

This year's congress attracted around 1,300 companies including Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Vodafone, to show off the industry's latest technologies. Particular attention is on a variety of touch-screen phones to be released this year following the success of Apple's iPhone early last year, heralding a fierce counterattack by the traditional big names in the mobile phone industry.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 11 2008] Berlin Spotlight on Korean-American Filmmaker

Korean-American director Dennis Lee has become, in Lord Byron’s words, “famous overnight” at the Berlin International Film Festival. His “Fireflies in the Garden” starring Julia Roberts was screened at the Berlinale Palast, the main venue, on Sunday at 10:30 p.m., a coveted time slot for every filmmaker. Tickets sold out already three days earlier despite the size of the theater -- it has 1,600 seats.

Having surprised the world by being invited to the competition of the one of the world’s three leading film festivals with his feature film debut, the rookie director is fully booked for interview after interview with reporters from around the world on Sunday and Monday.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 11 2008] IPTV Bets on Interactivity to Lure Customers

A way of beaming TV images onscreen through the Internet pipeline in lieu of traditional cabling, Internet protocol television or IPTV is billed as the hottest broadcast technology for 2008.

At the moment IPTV access in Korea is limited to video-on-demand service. But a special committee in the National Assembly has crafted a bill that would give viewers new access to real-time content like sports and dramas.

The introduction of so-called "two-way service," experts say, will open an era of personally-tailored TV blog-style broadcasting and TV banking. Using two-way service, viewers can even upload their own video clips and air their own shows.

The sky-high potential of IPTV has worked like a magnet to draw businesses looking for a stake in the new-generation visual platform.

Korean telecom giant KT is investing an average W130 billion (US$1=W942) a year in IPTV technology. And industry leader Hana TV has revamped its service to let viewers upload content in much the same way as they do on the Web.

Last month, Korea's second-largest Web portal, Daum, announced it will team up with Microsoft and Celrun to share IPTV know-how with the aim of launching service in Korea by July.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 11 2008] Korean Tourism Ad Wins Grand Trophy at New York Fest

An advertisement by the Korean government to promote tourism in the country has won a grand trophy award at an international advertising festival.

At the New York Festivals' 2008 ceremony the ad which touts the slogan "Korea, Sparkling" won the top prize for best sales production in the film and video category.

The 30-second ad produced in 12 languages by the Korea Tourism Organization portrays Korean food, traditions, technology, and B-boys to promote Korea as a tourist-welcoming country.

Another ad "Wonderful World of Korean Food" showcasing local dishes also earned the Silver World Medal for Sales Tourism.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 5 2008] Native Seeds to Head for Space

Seeds and technical equipment will be sent into space ahead of Korea's first astronaut, who is scheduled to lift off in April.

The Ministry of Science and Technology and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute said Monday that equipment specially prepared for experiments in space will be sent to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Progress spacecraft, which will blast off from Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan on Tuesday at 10:02 p.m. Korean time.

The seven items of equipment include an eye pressure monitor, an electrocardiograph machine and a video recorder to record changes in facial shape.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 5 2008] Korean Electronics Makers Produce '10-Million Sellers'

Korean electronics manufacturers are concentrating on producing "10-million sellers" -- hoping to sell more than 10 million units of a single product.

A 10-million seller is a watershed product for electronics manufacturers to quickly enhance their brand recognition and minimize their unit production costs through economies of scale.

As the global competitiveness of Korean electronic firms increases, the number of such hit products is also growing.

LG Electronics saw several of its products top the 10-million mark last year, including its Chocolate phone, Whisen air conditioner and LCD monitor. This year the company aims to achieve the same with other hit products, including the Shine phone and LCD TV.

Samsung Electronics believes its Bordeaux LCD TV will cross the 10-million mark this year. Debuting in 2006, the Bordeaux TV has been very popular thanks to its luxurious design, selling more than 5 million units as of late last year.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 5 2008] Separated Families May Exchange Holiday Video Letters

Twenty separated families from North and South Korea may have a chance to share greetings for the Lunar New Year through video letters.

Seoul's Unification Ministry announced Monday that the two Koreas' Red Cross agencies will meet at the truce village of Panmunjeom Tuesday to ink a deal on allowing video exchanges for divided families who have already reunited in person or through real-time video.

Upon signing the deal 30 families from each side will be selected every quarter to exchange videotapes. Each video-letter should be 20 minutes long and there will be no limit to how many family members can appear on a tape.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 5 2008] Digital Electronics Sector Seeks New Markets

Korean exporters have discovered oases in markets outside of the U.S. and outside of the slumping memory-chip market.

Export volume of digital electronics for the month of January grew 7.6 percent on-year, ending US$500 million in the black.

That's according to the Commerce, Industry and Energy Ministry which attributed it in part to solid growth in cell phones and home appliances.

The country's mobile phone giants, Samsung and LG Electronics, also raked in bigger pieces of the global market pie last year than in 2006, taking a combined 22 percent share of the world's cell phone market.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 4 2008] WiBro Thieves Get Jail Terms

An appellate court has handed down prison sentences for four former researchers who tried to steal Korean-developed WiBro technology, the third-generation global standard wireless broadband technology. They were arrested in court. In the first trial, only one of the four had been sentenced to jail. But the Seoul High Court put all four researchers in prison terms as a deterrent against technology leaks.

The court said Sunday it sentenced the four to up to two years in prison on charges of stealing WiBro technology developed by Korean IT firm POSDATA. The accused were former researchers with the firm.

They stole the core WiBro technology over six months between September 2006 and March 2007 and attempted to pass it to a company they established in the U.S. They planned to headhunt some 30 researchers from POSDATA, offering high salaries and stock options as incentives, to complete the technology and sell it to a U.S. communications company for W180 billion (US$1=W944).
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 4 2008] Seoul to Require ID Chips for Dogs

People in Seoul who abandon their pet dogs may find themselves in legal trouble. The city of Seoul plans to adopt a measure that will require microchips be embedded in pets so their owners can be easily identified.

The city government said Sunday that the microchips will contain a 15-digit identification number issued to each dog and other information about the dog's owner, color, and breed. This information will be shared by district offices, the Seoul city government and the central government.

The 1 cm-long, 2 mm-thick microchip will be inserted in the dog's neck. Owners will be responsible for having the microchips implanted, which will cost some W19,000 (US$1=W944) at district offices or designated places. If they do not, they will face fines of W200,000.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 1 2008] Passport Fingerprinting Plan Delayed to 2010

Koreans will likely not be fingerprinted yet when applying for electronic passports (e-passports), which will be introduced as early as the second half of this year.

The government has reportedly finished discussing with the National Assembly a bill to revise the passport law, which would temporarily introduce non-fingerprint-carrying e-passports for two years before introducing fingerprint-carrying e-passports from 2010, it was learned on Thursday.

An official with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said, "We're going to introduce e-passports to prevent passports from being forged or altered and to enhance passport holder credibility. The government originally intended to issue fingerprint-carrying passports from the start. But finally it has decided to set a two-year grace period before introducing fingerprint-carrying passports, for fear of some possible problems, including leakage of passport holders' personal information."
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 1 2008] Korea’s First Man on the Haute Couture Stage

A Korean is blazing a trail for Asians in a world normally closed to them: haute couture modeling. Kim Young-kwang made his debut around two years ago. Already he has modeled for Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, and Etro at the Milan Collection, one of the world’s four major fashion shows. He is the first male Korean model to appear at one of the four major fashion shows, although there are some Korean women.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 1 2008] SK Telecom Full-Year Operating Income Falls 16%

SK Telecom on Thursday announced its full-year results for 2007. Korea's largest mobile operator posted sales of W11.286 trillion (US$1=W945) for the year, up 6 percent from 2006, and net income of W1.643 trillion, a rise of 13.5 percent. But operating income tumbled 16 percent to W2.172 trillion.

SK attributed the fall in operating income to increased marketing expenses to promote its 3G wireless code division multiple access (WCDMA) service, which was launched across the country last year. That led to full-year marketing costs of W2.854 trillion, up 31 percent from 2006. Net income grew on gains from converting convertible bonds of China Unicom into stocks.
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 1 2008] Samsung Ordered to Pay W3 Trillion to Creditors

A Seoul court on Thursday ruled in favor of creditors of the now-defunct Samsung Motors, ordering Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee and 28 Samsung affiliates to repay W3.15 trillion in overdue debt to creditors in the nation’s biggest civil lawsuit ever (US$1=W945). Samsung will have to repay about W2.3 trillion given that creditors have already converted about W800 billion worth of shares in Samsung Life Insurance they had received into cash.

The Seoul Central District Court on Thursday ruled in favor of the creditors -- 14 financial institutions including Seoul Guarantee Insurance Company. The court ruled an agreement Samsung signed with its creditors to repay the debt in listed shares is valid, rejecting claims by the conglomerate that it entered the agreement under duress
[The Chosun Ilbo, February 1 2008] Gloomy Skies May Be Clearing for Chipmakers

After suffering extreme losses throughout all of last year, the semiconductor industry is finally seeing a glimmer of hope. There are signs that prices of DRAM chips are rallying and chipmakers are reducing their investments and output to avoid another price slump.

According to DRAMeXchange, a leading e-marketplace for semiconductor products, the price of 1-Gb DDR DRAM has increased 14 percent since the beginning of the year.

Demand is also increasing as shoppers in Korea and China buy computers for Lunar New Year gifts, and big PC makers like Hewlett Packard and Dell boost their memory chip orders in the belief that prices have hit bottom.

This may be the reason that chipmakers like Samsung Electronics and Hynix have been doing quite well on the stock market, even as markets have been plummeting worldwide.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, January 31 2008] Actress Petitions to Scrap Adultery Law

Actress Ok So-ri has filed a petition with the Uijeongbu District Court asking it to ask the Constitutional Court to consider if the country's adultery law is unconstitutional.

Ok was indicted on Jan. 16 for having an extramarital affair. Under the adultery law, convicted adulterers can be sentenced to up to two years in prison.

In her petition, Ok said that the adultery law violates the individual's constitutionally-protected rights to privacy and to freely engage in sexual activities. Adultery is a matter that should be governed not by criminal law but by civic law, she said.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 31 2008] POSCO to Expand Role in Auto Development

In a bid to increase the sale of its steel sheet for cars, a high value-added product, POSCO is looking to expand a joint program with global automakers to include cooperating in the development of new cars.

The Korean steelmaker hosted its first Early Vendor Involvement (EVI) forum at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul on Wednesday, welcoming about 300 executives from some 100 automakers and auto parts makers from around the world. Under EVI, POSCO and automakers would work closely together to develop steel sheet for cars as new cars are developed.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 31 2008] How the Samsung Scandal Gave a Pop Artist a Boost

The American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein innocently made headlines in Korea a decade after his death when his work “Happy Tears” appeared on a list of artworks that were allegedly bought by Samsung with money from corporate slush funds. The scandal, it seems, has sparked fresh interest among collectors.

Two Lichtenstein prints will go under the hammer at Seoul Auction today. One is “Crying Girl," a similar image to “Happy Tears” and valued at W40-50 million (US$1=W944). Shim Mi-sung, the general manager at Seoul Auction, said, “We were delighted when we were asked to auction a Lichtenstein work similar to ‘Happy Tears.’ Many visitors to a preview showed interest in the item.” Galleries say they have run out of Lichtensteins.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 31 2008] Expo Official Criticizes Yeosu Progress

The secretary-general of the Bureau of International Expositions, Vincente Gonzales Loscertales, believes Yeosu needs to pick up the pace on preparing for the 2012 World Expo.

The visiting BIE official criticized Yeosu's progress Wednesday, saying four years is probably not enough to build all the infrastructure needed including fairgrounds, railways and roads, as well as launch publicity campaigns to attract domestic and foreign visitors.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 31 2008] English Subtitles in Select Korean Movies from Thursday

Starting this week foreigners in Seoul will be able to enjoy Korean movies with English subtitles in theaters as soon as they are released.

CJ Entertainment, one of the country's top film distributors and producers, says it will premier select Korean movies with subtitles at CGV Yongsan, the multiplex nearest to the U.S. military base in the capital.

The first to be screened will be "A Man Who Was Superman" starting from this Thursday.

CJ plans to showcase four other movies with English subtitles including "Modern Boy" and acclaimed director Park Chan-wook's as yet untitled work due out toward the end of the year.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 30 2008] U.S. College Sues KBS for 'Damaging' Report

An American college has filed a lawsuit against KBS for a negative report on the college, seeking US$3 million in damages.

According to the Korean broadcaster on Tuesday, Yuin University in California filed a compensation suit against KBS in the U.S. on Jan. 8, claiming that a KBS report alleging the college to be a diploma mill caused tremendous damage to the school.

KBS reported on the college in a current affairs program on the fake academic credentials scandal surrounding the disgraced curator Shin Jeong-ah on Sept. 2 last year.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 30 2008] Aid Activist's Book Reaches 100th Print Run

Korean adventurer Han Bi-ya's book "Marching off the Map" has gone into its 100th print run. An official at publisher Prunsoop described the book as a kind of report by Han on her emergency aid activities in Afghanistan, Malawi, Zambia, Iraq and Sierra Leone between 2001 and 2005.

The book's 100th print run comes 28 months after it was first published in September 2005. It has sold some 650,000 copies so far.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 30 2008] Expo Team Arrives in Yeosu to Review Preparations

A delegation from the Bureau of International Exhibitions has arrived in Korea to review Yeosu's preparations for the 2012 World Expo. Through this week they will check on Yeosu's progress on plans for the big event.

The BIE's secretary general Vicente Gonzales Loscertales immediately raised concerns over the possible dissolution of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry because of the significant role it plays in the expo.

He also said the incoming administration seems rather indifferent and that Korea must show seamless preparations to successfully host the expo.

Complete plans are due at BIE headquarters by May 12 and the Paris-based body must approve them for Yeosu to host the event.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 30 2008] SK Telecom Signs Deal with Sony Pictures on Movie Service

SK Telecom and Sony Pictures Television International have signed a deal that will provide cell phone users in Korea with American TV dramas and movies owned by the global entertainment company.

SK Telecom, one of Korea's mobile communications service providers, plans to provide about 22 million of its customers with a large selection of video content for a small user fee.

The Korean company says customers can view videos by paying W2,000 (US$1=W950) each time they use the service.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 29 2008] Airlines to Launch Mobile Phone Check-In Services

Some air travelers in Korea can now use their mobile phones to check in for international flights. Korean Air and Asiana Airlines said Monday that they will launch mobile check-in services in cooperation with SK Telecom.

The services are limited to SK Telecom users flying with either of the two carriers. Using a mobile Internet connection on their phone, travelers can choose their seats and check in by inputting their reservation number and residence registration number.

Upon arriving at Incheon International Airport, they can issue their boarding pass using self-check-in machines by inputting a barcode downloaded to their phone and their passport number. Luggage must be checked at a separate counter.

Asiana will launch the service on Tuesday. Korean Air has not yet decided on a definite launch date but is looking to begin the service soon.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 29 2008] Penguin Books to Open Korean Office

A leading international publishing company will partner with a local publishing house to establish an office in Korea. Woongjin ThinkBig said Monday that it has agreed with Penguin Books to make a joint investment to establish Penguin Classic Korea.

Penguin Classic Korea plans to publish Korean versions of Penguin's classic series -- 50 books every year for the next five years with the first publication in May.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 29 2008] Songdo City Development Rising in Incheon

Incheon, a port city on Korea's west coast, has long been a gateway for the country's export-driven economy. Building on this existing strength four years ago, the Incheon Free Economic Zone or IFEZ was launched to turn the area into an economic hub for Northeast Asia.

At IFEZ's core will be the international business city of Songdo with the Incheon International Airport on Yeongjeong Island and Cheongna leisure area nearby.

Some parts of the zone are being built on land reclaimed from the sea. Under construction now is the Northeast Asia Trade Tower rising to 64 stories. The new Incheon Bridge will be the main access to Songdo for people landing at Incheon International Airport.

About 45 global enterprises have already agreed to conduct business in IFEZ. The UN Economic and Social Commission has established a training center there for information technology.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 29 2008] Credit-Card Firms Providing Fewer Fringe Benefits

Credit-card companies in Korea have begun tightening their belts by doing away with some fringe benefits.

Shinhan Bank cut in half the 10 percent discount given to certain card-holders who shop at discount stores such as E-Mart and Homeplus.

Shinhan, one of the country's biggest lenders, has also lowered credit limits for customers who do not charge a lot.

Other card companies like Samsung Card, BC Card, and KB Card have either trimmed down or altogether ended discounts and point-system benefits for some of their cards.

Banking experts say rising managing costs and market uncertainties are to blame.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 29 2008] 90% of Korean Movies Lost Money Last Year

Only one in 10 movies produced in Korea last year made a profit. That's according to the Korean Film Council, which said that out of 112 Korean films released last year just 13 passed the break-even point.

While the total number of filmgoers rose slightly from the year before, the market share of domestic movies fell 7 percentage points from 2006 to 51 percent.

Not only that, only three of the top 10 box-office grossers were produced here, namely "D-War", "May 18th" and "200 Pound Beauty."

The film council attributes the falling popularity of Korean movies to their lower production quality, a frail industry structure and a smaller screen quota.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 28 2008] 121 Global Best-Sellers, But More Still Needed

As of the end of 2007, Korean companies were making 121 global best-selling products, according to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. That marks a two-fold rise from 2004, when only 59 Korean products were global best sellers. There are 583 products that the ministry has selected as "global best-sellers," that either rank in the top five in the world within their category or could enter those ranks within three years. It is good news that our best-sellers are increasing, despite lackluster corporate investments over the past few years, compounded by rising raw materials prices and the strengthening won which have been cutting into the profitability of Korean products.

Included in the global best-selling products are memory chips (45 percent market share), TFT-LCDs (46 percent), LNG tankers (63 percent), diesel engines for ships (60 percent) and other products made by large business conglomerates. Also included are products made by small businesses or mid-sized businesses, including motorcycle helmets (32 percent), glue used to make shoes (50 percent), cleaners for ultra-thin textile threads (35 percent), and shoes for bicycling (32 percent). Looking at the number of products, almost half are made by small or mid-sized businesses.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 28 2008] Korea Fighter Jet Project ‘Not Viable'

The Korea Development Institute concluded that a project to develop home-grown next-generation fighter planes would be economically unviable. The program, codenamed KF-X, aims to produce a multi-role fifth-generation aircraft by 2020 to replace the outdated F-4Es and F-5Es and to market it globally.

However, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said the report was for reference only and the project would be carried out in view of other factors such as export prospects and technological capacity.

DAPA and the Air Force unveiled the KDI survey Sunday. It says the project would generate weak economic effect in proportion to the investment cost. A monthly defense journal cited a KDI report to the presidential office as estimating economic effects of less than W3 trillion given a W10 trillion investment (US$1=W947).
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 28 2008] N.Korea Opens Online Shopping Mall

North Korea has opened its first internet shopping mall and is now selling hundreds of items online. An "e-shop" section was added to North Korea's official business information site Chollima (

The shop's 14 product categories include machinery, building materials, vehicles, industrial art objects, foodstuffs, daily necessities, stamps, artworks, movies and software. The website even says it accepts credit cards.

The government in Pyongyang recently launched the site in a joint venture with a company in Shenyang, China.

After selecting items and clicking the "order" button, customers can enter their e-mail address or other contact information. The China-based administrator will then contact customers for their credit card number to process the order.

The site was designed and built by North Korea while the Chinese company is renting the Internet server.

This is the first time that North Korea has operated a globally-accessible online shopping mall. The Chollima website also includes North Korean news and economic and trade policies in Korean, English and Chinese for foreign customers and investors.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 28 2008] Na Hoon-a and the Posion of Celebrity Rumor

Rumors about the Na Hoon-a started to die down on Friday, when the veteran pop singer in a press conference threatened to take drastic action to prove he was in one piece. But the saga revealed the collective voyeurism of the yellow press in dealing with rumors about celebrities' private lives, and the way such rumors ramify on the Internet.

In the press conference, the crooner said two actresses who have also fallen victim to malicious gossip, Kim Hye-soo and Kim Seon-ah, “would have killed themselves if they were more weak-willed." In fact, actress and pop singer U-Nee and TV actress Jeong Da-bin did commit suicide in January and February last year, apparently as a result of malicious online comments and rumors.

This is not Na Hoon-a’s first encounter with rumor. In June 1972 ...
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 28 2008] LG Phones to Appear in Hollywood Blockbuster

LG Electronics has partnered with Paramount Pictures to showcase the Korean company's high-tech mobile phones in the upcoming Hollywood movie "Iron Man."

Set to open before June, the action film based on a comic book tells the story of a weapons designer who builds a robotic suit of armor to battle evil.

In the movie, actor Robert Downey Jr. who plays Iron Man will use an LG mobile TV phone while his co-star Gwyneth Paltrow will use a touchscreen smartphone that was released in Europe last October.

"The futuristic film coupled with the phones' high-tech, innovative image will likely produce immense brand promotion effects," a senior official at LG's North American cell phone unit said.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 28 2008] LG Phones to Appear in Hollywood Blockbuster

LG Electronics has partnered with Paramount Pictures to showcase the Korean company's high-tech mobile phones in the upcoming Hollywood movie "Iron Man."

Set to open before June, the action film based on a comic book tells the story of a weapons designer who builds a robotic suit of armor to battle evil.

In the movie, actor Robert Downey Jr. who plays Iron Man will use an LG mobile TV phone while his co-star Gwyneth Paltrow will use a touchscreen smartphone that was released in Europe last October.

"The futuristic film coupled with the phones' high-tech, innovative image will likely produce immense brand promotion effects," a senior official at LG's North American cell phone unit said.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 28 2008] Phone Makers Win W300 Bil. Tariff Suit

Several mobile phone makers have won a W300-billion (US$1=W947) lawsuit against the Korea Customs Service for import duties levied on multi-chip package memory products, a key component in mobile phones.

The Seoul Administrative Court sided with LG Electronics in its request to cancel W22.4 billion in tariffs imposed by the customs service on MCP imports. The court also ordered taxes be canceled for Toshiba (W42 billion) and Pantech (W3.7 billion).

Samsung Electronics is also expected to win a similar W150-billion suit which is scheduled to be ruled on soon. The customs service has slapped over W300 billion in tariffs on 140 MCP importers.

Combining flash memory chips and S-RAM, MCPs are used for data storage in cell phones. Manufacturers have imported them as integrated circuits which are not subject to tariffs since 1998.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 28 2008] Exports of Intermediate Goods to China Jump Five-Fold

Korean exports of key manufacturing parts to China have seen a five-fold jump in the past decade thanks to China's active promotion of foreign investments there.

According to findings by the Bank of Korea, the trend explains how aggressively vertical specialization of trade between the two countries has expanded during that period.

In vertical-specialization-based trade, a country uses imported intermediate parts to make complete products for export, thus two or more countries are linked sequentially to produce a final item.

Regarding such trade with China, Korea has shipped out the most IT equipment and automobile parts for Chinese manufacturers to assemble finished products for the global market.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, January 25 2008] Strong Phone Business Leads LG to Record Sales

LG Electronics posted full-year sales of more than W40 trillion for the first time in its history (US$1=W953).

The Korean electronics giant said Wednesday it recorded W10.91 trillion in sales and W380.9 billion in operating profit in the fourth quarter of last year, including the performance of its overseas operations. The sales figure is an all-time quarterly high, and the operating profit slightly outperformed market expectations.

The company posted full-year sales for 2007 of W40.85 trillion, an increase of 11.2 percent from 2006. Operating profit was W1.23 trillion, up 46.2 percent year-on-year.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 25 2008] Jeon Ji-hyun Takes a Big-Screen Gamble

Many Korean star actresses of the small screen have dismally flopped in movies although they achieve brilliant success and earn astronomical amounts of money in TV commercials. Now Jeon Ji-hyun is taking the gamble, returning to the silver screen with “A Man Once a Superman” directed by Chung Yun-chul.

She follows in the perilous footsteps of Kim Tae-hee , who recently appeared opposite Seol Kyung-goo in “Fight.” It attracted a mere 300,000 viewers amid controversy over Kim’s poor acting skills, which have been in question since her debut.

Ko So-young, whose beauty defies age, was also unlucky in films. Her movies “A.P.T” and “Go Go Sister” were both failures. And Moon Geun-young, once considered the queen of the small screen and the nation’s little sister, fell flat on her face with “Love Me Not.” After a long rest, she announced her return to TV soap opera.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 25 2008] Koreans Underwhelmed by YouTube's Local Offering

YouTube's new Korean platform got off to a bad start on its first day on Thursday. YouTube is the world's largest video sharing website, with about 70 million video clips and 10 hours of new clips being uploaded every second.

Korean netizens were less than enthusiastic about the debut of YouTube Korea on Thursday, finding the service far short of their expectations. Since Korea is an IT powerhouse with widespread high-speed Internet, Koreans have long enjoyed video sharing websites and thus have highly-developed tastes.

The biggest problem Korean users had with the service is the language barrier. Since YouTube is a global site with content from around the world, the dominant language on the site is English. Most Koreans in their teens and 20s, who are the primary users of the Internet, have a hard time communicating in English. Others say that the video quality is poorer than that of domestic sites.

On its first day YouTube Korea was filled with videos with English titles and had few clips uploaded through the Korean service. Even popular clips only managed 4,000-5,000 viewings, compared to tens of thousands for hit clips on domestic sites. It remains to be seen whether YouTube Korea can eventually live up to the high expectations of Korean netizens, or end up just making noise.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 25 2008] Philharmonic Concert in Pyongyang to be Broadcast Worldwide

When the New York Philharmonic performs in North Korea on Feb. 26, those outside the communist country will also be able to delve into the sounds.

The orchestra said on Wednesday that people around the world will get to enjoy its full performance in Pyongyang on TV in real time thanks to a joint effort by South Korea's Munhwa Broadcasting Company and European arts and broadcasting organizations.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 24 2008] Samsung SDI Posts Worst Results Ever

Display maker Samsung SDI recorded the worst business performance in its history last year. Samsung SDI said Wednesday it earned W5.15 trillion (US$1=W954) in sales but posted an operating deficit of W572.6 billion, a massive plunge from an operating profit of W130.5 billion in 2006.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 24 2008] Chosun Ilbo Again Named Preferred Paper of CEOs

he Chosun Ilbo and the Sports Chosun have been named the favorite newspaper and sports daily of Korean CEOs, according to a survey of 127 top executives of domestic corporations.

The annual survey by monthly business magazine New Management lists the best-loved brands of Korea's top business leaders.

The survey found that 68.6 percent of the CEOs preferred the Hyundai Equus, which maintained the top position among automobiles for a sixth straight year.

Some 85.5 percent rated Samsung Anycall the best mobile phone, 18.9 percent preferred the Shilla Hotel and 76.6 percent liked Korean Air.

The respondents' favorite mobile operator was SK Telecom, favorite notebook was the Samsung it SENS, and favorite TV was the Samsung PAVV.

The Chosun Ilbo grabbed the top spot among newspapers by a large margin for a second year in a row, with 57.5 percent naming it their favorite. The Joongang Ilbo came in second with 23.9 percent, followed by the Dong-A Ilbo with 7.7 percent.

Among business dailies, the Maeil Business Newspaper ranked first, followed by the Korea Economic Daily, Korea Herald Business and Seoul Economic Daily. The Sports Chosun was the most read sports newspaper.

Among broadcasters, most CEOs watched KBS with 43.3 percent, followed by MBC with 35.8 percent and SBS with 12.5 percent.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 24 2008] AhnLab to Offer Free Anti-Virus Program

The computer security industry is seeing more and more companies offering free anti-virus programs that can detect and treat computer viruses in real time.

AhnLab, a security software company, said at a press conference in the Korea Press Center in Seoul on Wednesday that it will distribute a free real-time anti-virus program starting next Thursday.

The program not only detects and treats malicious codes but also features security functions such as an intrusion prevention system and a firewall.

Security software companies have come into conflict with portals and software companies like Naver, Yahoo and ESTsoft as these companies, which are not security specialists, have begun offering free anti-virus programs.

AhnLab's announcement means that other security software developers will likely jump on the bandwagon with free programs of their own.

AhnLab said that its free service will exclude some premium programs like its integrated security program V3 IS 2007 Platinum.

AhnLab president Oh Seok-joo said, "Our decision was based on our belief in the value of public interest. We will eventually develop a paid service differentiated from the free service for the general public."
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 24 2008] YouTube Launches Korean Site

YouTube has launched a Korean version of its popular video sharing website. The company said at a press conference at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul on Wednesday that it began its Korean service that day, at

Established in February 2005, YouTube is the world's largest video sharing website, with tens of thousands of new video clips being posted every day.

Google acquired YouTube in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion. Korea is the 19th country with a localized version, following countries like Britain, France and Australia.

Sakina Arsiwala, international manager for YouTube, said that Korea is a very attractive market with a robust IT infrastructure. "Rather than just translate our site into Korean, we worked to localize the service so that users can see the most popular video clips in Korea as well," she said.

YouTube Korea provides online community services as well as its video-viewing service which lets users watch video clips posted by users and professional content creators around the world.

Google Korea president Lee Won-jin said, "I hope that videos created by Korean netizens will spread around the world through YouTube, causing another Korean Wave or craze for Korean pop culture."
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 23 2008] No More Press Gags, Lee Promises

President-elect Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday vowed not to gag the press during his five-year tenure even if he should be afraid of media criticism. He promised to straighten out policies introduced under the current government that violate the freedom of press.

Lee made the pledge at a launch ceremony for Chosun Ilbo honorary chairman Bang Woo-young’s memoirs. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would write when I am 80 years old. I will have to write that I have feared the media.”

“I remember when honorary chairman Bang collected 1 million signatures for the return of South Koreans abducted by North Korea. I was deeply moved at the time,” Lee said, “Honorary chairman Bang overcame and survived difficult times while consolidating his status as a journalist.”

Lee pledged to devote himself to the task of developing the nation.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 23 2008] Microsoft Korea Joins Daum in IPTV Business

Daum Communications, Microsoft Korea and Celrun, a set-top box supplier, have agreed to cooperate in an Internet protocol television business.

The three companies signed a memorandum of understanding for the tentatively-named Open IPTV service on Tuesday.

Open IPTV would be different from existing IPTV services in that it would allow anyone to supply content using a network of network operators like KT, they said.

The companies will announce the details of their plan as soon as the government's enforcement ordinance for IPTV laws is determined.

Microsoft Korea said if Open TV is successful in Korea then it will take the service to overseas markets.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 23 2008] Seo Tai-ji Roped In for GM Daewoo Commercial

Superstar Seo Tai-ji is to promote a car in a TV commercial to coincide with the release of his 15th anniversary of his debut late last year. According to his agency Seotaiji Company, the singer was chosen as the model for GM Daewoo’s new car Tosca Premium 6 and finished filming the commercial outside Seoul. The agency claims the ad highlights the “pioneer and progressive spirit and enthusiasm” that the singer and the car represent.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 23 2008] Google Under Fire for Flawed Korea Maps

Controversy has flared up as Google Earth, a satellite-image mapping service by Google, the world's largest search engine, has erroneously described several South Korean locations.

The controversial areas include Ongjin County under the jurisdiction of the city of Incheon, and some islands in Ongjin County such as Baegryeong-do, Daecheong-do, and Socheong-do.

While close to North Korea, all of these locations are in South Korea. Yet all of them are described in detail by Google Earth as belonging to North Korea. Even Yeonpyeong-do, in whose adjacent waters the 1999 West Sea battle was waged, is described as belonging to the North.

This is not the first time Google has mislabeled Korean geography. Google once incurred public protest by referring to the East Sea as the "Sea of Japan" and the Dokdo Islets as "Takeshima."

In September last year, Google Earth caused a stir with a notice that referred to Seoul as "Korea under Japanese rule." According to a study in June last year, Google Earth had a total of 133 erroneous designations for Korean geographical locations.

Google Earth currently refers to the Dokdo Islets as "Liancourt Rocks" with a note that South Korea calls them "Dokdo" but Japan calls them "Takeshima."
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 23 2008] KEPCO Mulls Power Plant Project in Bolivia

Korea Electric Power Corp. will study the possibility of building a hydroelectric power plant in Bolivia.

KEPCO said Tuesday that its CEO Lee Won-gul met with Bolivian President Evo Morales to discuss ways to cooperate and signed a memorandum of understanding to build a 120-megawatt hydroelectric power plant as part of the Misicuni dam project.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 22 2008] The Rise of the Gold Misses

Late last year, a TV series called "Cashmere Mafia" began airing in the U.S. It tells the story of four Manhattan career women who have found success in publishing, finance, hotel management and cosmetics. Classmates from the same business school, the foursome are called the "Cashmere Mafia." The term suggests that the women work like men in the way they help and support each other for successes and promotions. These "alpha girls," who have never tasted defeat, are constantly on the move, chasing ever bigger ambitions and happiness.

▶In several ways the show resembles another American TV series, "Sex and the City," which gained popularity in Korea. Wearing stylish attire, the main characters of "Cashmere Mafia" are always busy looking for decent restaurants where they can talk about work and love. The level of women's success in TV dramas has risen remarkably over the past few years. "Cashmere Mafia" deals with female corporate executives. Women like these are entitled to VIP "gold" credit cards, so they're called "gold misses" -- a term, created from the broken English "old miss," that made it onto a list of fad words of 2006. A higher level of gold miss is "platinum miss."
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 22 2008] Lee Team Plans to Beautify Korea

The incoming administration is determined to give Korea, often denounced as an aesthetically soulless country, a radical makeover. Lawmaker Maeng Hyung-kyu, who heads the presidential Transition Committee's subcommittee for planning and coordination, on Monday said the “Design Korea” project is “aimed at seeking harmony and balance in urban areas and buildings by introducing the concept of public design."

As a campaign promise by president-elect Lee Myung-bak, a man nicknamed the Bulldozer for his role in creating the concrete jungle in his days as a construction executive, the plan was called the "Designed in Korea" project. It envisages an architecture and urban design subcommittee under the State Architecture Commission, which will be launched in October, and inviting leading international architects to coordinate designs for urban spaces and buildings. As its model, the Transition Committee cited Britain's Commission for Architecture and Built Environments (CABE), an organization tasked with supervising the whole outward look of various public projects
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 22 2008] China to Overtake Korea in Tech Power in 3 Years - Survey

Nearly seven out of 10 Korean companies doing business with China think that China will overtake Korea in technological power in three years. That's according to a survey of 390 companies on the potential effects on Korean industry of a free trade agreement with China released by the Korea International Trade Association on Monday.

Some 68.2 percent of respondents said that it would take less than three years for China to pull ahead of Korea in terms of technological power. Some 15.1 percent said it would take less than one year and 51.7 percent said between one to three years. Some 1.4 percent said that China has already overtaken Korea.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 22 2008] YouTube May Launch Korea Service

YouTube, the world's biggest content-sharing website, may soon launch service in Korea.

No details on a date are available yet, but Korea's Yonhap News quoted a YouTube spokesperson as saying it will hold a press conference this Wednesday in Seoul to explain how its service will be adapted to local needs.

Koreans already rank among the most tech-savvy in the world, showing keen enthusiasm for creating online content using digital cameras and cell phones.

YouTube's launch here would make Korea the tenth country to host overseas service by the Google affiliate, which boasts 100 million clicks daily.

Service was set to start late last year but the company decided to delay the introduction so as not to be overshadowed by the presidential election.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 21 2008] ‘Night and Day’ to Be Screened at Berlinale

Director Hong Sang-soo’s new film “Night and Day” will participate in the competition of the 58th Berlin International Film Festival, which opens on Feb 7, the only Korean film to be screened in competition.

Starring actors Kim Young-ho and Lee Seon-gyoon and actresses Park Eun-hye and Hwang Soo-jung, the film is about the relationships among a Korean artist (Kim Young-ho) who won a national competition but fled to Paris for unknown reasons, his wife (Hwang Soo-jung), an art student studying in Paris (Park Eun-hye) and a North Korean student there (Lee Seon-gyoon). The film was shot in Paris last summer and Paris serves as the setting for 90 percent of the movie. Final touches are being added in Seoul. It will premiere at Berlin.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 21 2008] Aegis Ships 'to Be Equipped With New Intercept Missiles'

The Defense Ministry apparently plans to equip the Navy's 7,600-ton-class Aegis vessels, including a King Sejong-class destroyer, with the newest-type American-made SM-6 missiles to intercept North Korean ballistic missiles. The development of the SM-6 has not been finished; once it is, some 100 of them will be deployed on Sejong and other South Korean naval vessels by around 2012. Since six or seven years ago, the Defense Ministry had intended to purchase SM-2 Block IVA missiles, which the U.S. was developing for Aegis vessels, to match the South Korean Aegis ships' state-of-the-art radar capacity to trace and intercept North Korea's ballistic missiles. But with the missile development plan cancelled, the ministry's purchase plan came to a standstill.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 21 2008] Korea’s First Ford Supermodel Winner Speaks Out

"People here says I'm 'beautiful' or 'perfect.’ I never thought so in Korea. All the praise makes me feel I'm pretty..." The speaker was the winner of the Ford Supermodel of the World contest Kang Seung-hyun (21), a freshman in the modeling department at Dongduk Women’s University. Kang is the first Asian winner in the contest's 25-year history. She competed against contestants from some 50 countries. Calling her the 'pearl of the Orient', the U.S. media praised her looks and walk as the best.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 21 2008] Chongdong Theater Celebrates Centennial of Wongaksa

Chongdong Theater in downtown Seoul is welcoming guests to celebrate the 100th year of Wongaksa. Wongaksa, Korea's first Western-style theater, was built in 1908 but perished in a fire only six years later.

Chongdong Theater was built to pass on the legacy of Wongaksa and is now celebrating the centennial of its mother theater's birth.

"To celebrate the 100th birthday we've prepared the Masters' Concert in January, and other shows in June and October. Currently, we're showing traditional singing, dance and instrumental concerts over this three-week event," a theater source said.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 21 2008] Chongdong Theater Celebrates Centennial of Wongaksa

Chongdong Theater in downtown Seoul is welcoming guests to celebrate the 100th year of Wongaksa. Wongaksa, Korea's first Western-style theater, was built in 1908 but perished in a fire only six years later.

Chongdong Theater was built to pass on the legacy of Wongaksa and is now celebrating the centennial of its mother theater's birth.

"To celebrate the 100th birthday we've prepared the Masters' Concert in January, and other shows in June and October. Currently, we're showing traditional singing, dance and instrumental concerts over this three-week event," a theater source said.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 18 2008] Insane Behavior by Intelligence Officials

A court has ruled in favor of the Chosun Ilbo in a libel suit filed by 15 National Intelligence Service officers demanding compensation and a correction regarding a July 26, 2005 article written by this newspaper about Korean intelligence running a secret bugging team between 1993 and 1998. The team recorded dinner conversations of core political, financial and media figures. The article said the NIS in January 2005 obtained CDs of those illegal wiretaps, which were conducted by The Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP), the predecessor of the NIS, and had them voice-printed by experts. On July 21 that year, the Chosun Ilbo broke the story that the ANSP ran a secret bugging team, codenamed Mirim, between 1993 and 1998. It was only then that the NIS said it would look into the matter. A Chosun Ilbo article dated July 26 reported that the NIS had already figured out the contents of the tapes and had tried to keep everything under wraps until the article appeared.

The court said there was no wrongdoing involved in the publication of the article, whose content was in the public’s interest and was based on reliable information. Very few articles are of as much interest to the public as those involving wiretaps by intelligence agencies. And if there were suspicions that an intelligence agency internally investigated such practices and may have hidden that fact, then this must be reported too. But the NIS said the article was libelous and damaged the integrity of its employees and instructed them to file a damage suit.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 18 2008] Reclaimed Land to Be Used for Business, not Farming

Land reclaimed from the sea in the Saemangeum mega project in North Jeolla Province will be developed mainly as an economic hub. A taskforce under a special committee on national competitiveness reinforcement in president-elect Lee Myung-bak’s transition team said Thursday most of the reclaimed land will be used for an economic center, and the current government’s plans to turn it into farmland will be scrapped. The taskforce said it had reported the plan to Lee.
[The Chosun Ilbo, January 18 2008] Korean Curator Opens New Doors at UK Gallery

"I want to show my full ability and leave a clear mark as a Korean curator in the British art world. I'll be competing on the same level as British curators," said Dr. Lee Sook-kyung, a curator at the prestigious Tate Liverpool art gallery.

The 38-year-old Lee joined Britain's leading modern art museum in October last year, and is the first Korean curator in the 100-year history of the Tate Gallery. She is now preparing for this fall's 2008 Liverpool Biennale and organizing various exhibitions and displays. Moreover, she will assume an important job on a gallery subcommittee formed to increase the Tate's collection of art from Asian countries, including Korea.