Saturday, April 26, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, April 14 2008] NAND Flash Memory Prices Improve

The contract price of 8Gb multi-level cell NAND flash, the most frequently traded NAND flash memory product in the market, has rallied for the first time in eight months.

NAND flash is used mainly as memory in digital cameras and mobile phones, and its main Korean manufacturers include Samsung Electronics and Hynix Semiconductor.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 11 2008] Seoul to Clamp Down on Illegal DVDs

As the illegal copying of DVDs worsens, Seoul is planning stronger regulations on audiovisual copyright theft.

Seoul Metropolitan City, jointly with Korea's Copyright Protection Center and related organizations, is launching a promotion called the "Seoul Clean 100 Day Project" beginning April 14.

The project includes collecting and disposing of illegal copies of CDs and DVDs and hefty crackdowns on production and distribution networks.

Officials are also drafting means to restrict online channels such as portals, P2Ps and data storage sites.

Just in Seoul there are about 300 illegal DVD or CD stands mainly stationed around subway stations and bus stops.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 10 2008] Internet Format Arrives on Cell Phones

Advanced technology is enabling users to use the familiar visual format of their personal computers on their mobile handsets.

This cell phone model was recently released under a partnership of a Korean telecom and a U.S.-based Internet company. With it, users can search the Internet, exchange e-mails, and even open attached files.

Jung Il-jae, CEO of LG Telecom, promised to “release more models that allow users to view free content they can see online."
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 10 2008] Online Mall Sales to Overtake Department Stores’

Online shopping malls will outdo department stores in terms of sales this year, the Samsung Economic Research Institute said in a report Wednesday. SERI said sales of online shopping malls will top W20 trillion (US$1=W976), while sales of department stores are estimated at W19.1 trillion, including the aggregate W14-15 trillion by the big three market leaders Lotte, Shinsegae and Hyundai.

The volume of online shopping malls has jumped 29.5 percent a year since 2001. Online malls defeated supermarkets in 2006 and have grown into the nation’s third largest distribution channel, following large superstores and department stores.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 10 2008] Samsung Wireless Technology Wins Global Certification

Domestically developed WiBro equipment has received Mobile WiMAX Forum Certified Seal of Approval for the first time.

Samsung Electronics and POSDATA said Wednesday that their base stations, PC card-type terminal and USB modem received an international certification by the WiMAX Forum, which has 520 telecom service providers and equipment manufacturers worldwide as members. It is the first time the international forum officially certified a mobile WiMAX product.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 10 2008] Gov't to Lift Press Ownership Restrictions

Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Yu In-chon on Wednesday said the government’s basic policy is to permit newspaper companies limited ownership of broadcasters. Yu made the remarks in a meeting with correspondents in New York on Tuesday. "The government is basically considering lifting restrictions” on the simultaneous ownership of newspapers and broadcasters, he said.

"We'll still have to undergo several processes including an inter-governmental discussion and a public hearing, but I think a bill on this issue can be submitted to the regular National Assembly session this year,” he added. Asked about the criteria, Yu pointed out that some newspapers such as the JoongAng Ilbo and the Maeil Business Newspaper already have cable TV stations. "It wouldn't be reasonable for the government to permit one newspaper to own a broadcaster but refuse the application of another."
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 10 2008] Korea's Internet Usage Rate Surpasses 80%

The number of Internet users in Korea is forecast to inch up nearly 4 percent in the first half of this year to surpass 80 percent of the entire population of 49 million, maintaining Korea's status as one of the world's most wired nations.

Some 33 million people in Korea go online an average of 16 hours a week. This is according to data from research companies KoreanClick and TNS Korea.

People in their 40s were found to account for the highest percentage of users with 80 percent of that age bracket using the Internet.

The number of Internet users in their 60s has doubled since 2003 defying the notion that the online world is populated only by the young.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 9 2008] Digital Chosun Signs Partnership Deal With ETS for TOEFL Practice Online

Digital Chosun, the online unit of the Chosun Ilbo, and U.S.-based Educational Testing Service (ETS), the non-profit organization that developed the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), agreed on Tuesday on the exclusive distributorship of the TOEFL practice tests in Korea.

Under the agreement, Digital Chosun is the exclusive territory distributor of TOEFL Practice Online, the simulation of ETS's most widely accepted English language test in the world. Digital Chosun is authorized to market and sell TOEFL Practice Online for the next three years.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 8 2008] More People Spend More Time Reading Newspapers

Newspaper readers read more reports for a longer time than before. A survey of 3,375 readers aged between 18 and 64 shows that the “reading rate” of newspapers rose 6.3 points from 27.3 percent in 2006 to 33.6 percent this year. The reading rate measures the number of readers who read a certain news report. The survey was conducted by Hankook Research from March 11 to 17 for the Korean Association of Newspapers. People read 54 reports a day, up from 40 ones in 2006. They also spent 35.6 minutes a day reading a newspaper, up from 34.2 minutes during the same period.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 8 2008] A Korean Wave Rises in Hollywood

More and more young Korean-American actors and actresses are making their presence felt in Hollywood, the global Mecca of the movie world. One of them is Aaron Yoo. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Yoo entered the entertainment industry and made his name with a supporting role in Paramount Pictures' "Disturbia" last year. Now he's enjoying growing popularity with his latest work in Columbia Pictures' "21", which opened in the U.S. last month.

n a recent interview with the Chosun Ilbo, Yoo acknowledged that good fortune has played a major part in his success so far, but he also believes his confidence in his acting ability has been another contributing factor. An admirer of Marlon Brando, James Dean and Cary Grant, the young actor expressed a hope to appear in a Korean movie if he gets a chance.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 8 2008] Enthusiasm Wanes for IT Start-Ups

Enthusiasm for IT venture start-ups, which have served as a growth engine for tech-savvy South Korea, has been falling rapidly. According to the Korea Association of Information & Telecommunication, the number of IT start-ups totaled 3,941 in 2005, but that figure has declined for two consecutive years, to 3,842 in 2006 and 3,380 in 2007.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 8 2008] LG Display Partners with China's No. 3 TV Maker

LG Display is set to perform better in the Chinese market with the establishment of a strategic relationship with Skyworth Group, one of China's leading LCD TV makers. In the fourth quarter of last year, Skyworth ranked third in China with sales of 320,000 LCD TVs, an 11.5 percent market share.

At Skyworth's plant in Shenzhen on Monday, Yeo Sang-deog, executive vice president of LG Display's TV unit, and Zhang Xuebin, board chairman and president of Skyworth Group, agreed to establish a joint R&D center called Guangzhou New Vision Display Technology Research & Development.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Hallyuwood" plans progress in Goyang City, Korea
(Thanks to Jim Larson for the hint.)

According to KBS News Hallyuwood will be a 990.000 square meter Hollywood-style next-generation amusement park complex situated in Goyang City, Gyeonggi Province (ca. 1 hr away from Seoul). Its purpose is to boost "Hallyu", the Korean pop culture wave in East and South-East Asia. The plans of the ambitious project for the next-generation amusement park complex were announced in the end of 2005 and the project has been estimated to finalize in 2010.

The blog Brian in Jeollanam-do also discusses the futuristic concept of Hallyuwood which he sees as nice counterbalance for emphasizing the more traditional elements of Korean culture.

See also the promotional video of Hallyuwood on YouTube.

Korea's Information Society 한국의 정보 사회: More on ICT Indexes

Korea's Information Society 한국의 정보 사회: More on ICT Indexes
Jim Larson elaborates on global indices measuring information and communication technology.

Web 2.0 Asia :: Progress update on the Asia Web Conference plan

Web 2.0 Asia :: Progress update on the Asia Web Conference plan
Together with web experts around East Asia, Chang Kim is planning the first-ever conference on Asian web industry. Read more about it here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

[The Chosun Ilbo, April 7 2008] Cell Phone Glitch Bring Korea Closer for Some Japanese

Cell phone users in some areas of Tsushima, in Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture, have wrongly been getting billed for international calls made from Korea although they made only local calls, according to the news site J-Cast.

The malfunction occurs on handsets subscribing to NTT DoCoMo’s international roaming service. Apparently the cell phones receive radio waves sent from a base station in Korea and are automatically switched into international call mode. A spokesman for NTT DoCoMo said 38 models have the problem and asked users to operate their cell phones manually to prevent an automatic switch.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 7 2008] Hynix Develops Faster Large-Capacity Chip

Hynix said Sunday it has developed a new 1-gigabit memory chip called LPDDR2 which boasts the world’s fastest data transfer capability. LPDDR2 is short for low-power double-data-rate memory chips.

The new chip can be activated on an electrical voltage of 1.2 and transfers 800 megabits per second, making it capable to send 50 million Korean letters per second. A Hynix DDR chip developed in August last year transfers 400 megabits per second at 1.8 volt.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 2 2008] Korea's WiBro to Debut in U.S. This Month

Korea's WiBro mobile Internet technology will launch in the U.S., the world's largest mobile communications market, later this month.

Choi Gee-sung, president of Samsung Electronics' Telecommunication Network Business, said Tuesday that his company will launch a WiBro (called Mobile WiMAX in the U.S.) service in Washington D.C. and Baltimore in partnership with Sprint Nextel, a leading U.S. mobile operator.
[The Chosun Ilbo, April 2 2008] Prim Actress Gets Messy in New TV Ad

Actress Kim Tae-hee has become the talk of the town with a commercial in which she appears with no make-up. The commercial for Olympus Korea emphasizes Kim's natural side. Sporting a mane of untidy hair as if she just woke up, she curls her lips, plays with a teddy bear, frowns, and sucks a lollipop.

The commercial has received a strong response because it shows another side of the actress, who has used the fact that she is intelligent and refined as a graduate of the prestigious Seoul National University to appeal to the public.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

[The Hankyoreh (Editorial), 23 April 2008:] New beginning for Samsung

"As part of reform measures, Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee said yesterday that he will step down as the head of the nation’s largest business conglomerate. It is quite saddening to some to see one of the nation’s most influential business leaders bowing to the public as he announces his resignation. For Samsung employees, meanwhile, it must come as a shock. Samsung seems to have put a lot of thought into the reform measures, which include closing the group’s powerful strategic planning office. The conglomerate must want the measures to be regarded as “sincere” moves by its leadership. However, by the general standards of law and justice, Samsung must face quite a different reality as it didn’t mention anything about the core corruption scandals and fell short of demonstrating a strong will to revamp its current emperor-style management practices. They just seem to be trying to cover up their past wrongs via the resignations of some of their key officials, while continuing the father-to-son transfer of power and making little effort to provide a vision for its management in the future."

Samsung plans major structural reforms : National : Home

[Hankyoreh, 23 April 2008:] Samsung plans major structural reforms

"Chairman Lee Kun-hee to resign and strategic planning office to be dismantled

Samsung Group announced yesterday a range of structural reform measures, including the resignation of its Chairman Lee Kun-hee. The 66-year-old business tycoon said in a trembling voice, “Today, I decided to resign as chairman of Samsung Group.” Lee has been at the helm of Samsung Group for more than two decades since he took the job following the death of his father and group founder Lee Byung-chull in December 1987."

Futurize Korea :: The End of WiFi HotSpots?

Futurize Korea :: The End of WiFi HotSpots?
For discussion about Korea's wifi culture.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Can employees be dismissed via e-mail? : National : Home

New Media Used for Sacking Employees in Korea

The Hankyoreh (22 April 2008) reports on the issue of dismissing employees via e-mail. The article tells the story of a salesman dismissed via e-mail from his company. The salesman submitted a petition to the Seoul District Labor Relations Commission and according to their ruling (21 April) the company violated proper procedure.

The sacking by e-mail case brings to mind another case from a couple years back reported by Digitoday (in Finnish). In 2004, the third biggest Korean credit card company KEB Credit Services fired a fourth of its workforce by sending them a text-message.

Samsungin johtaja erosi veronkiertoepäilyjen vuoksi - - Talous

[, April 22, 2008 (in Finnish)] The executive of Samsung resigned for tax-evation charges

According to the prosecutor, Lee Ku-hee had dodged taxes for almost USD 115 mill. and might be put to jail for 5 years max.

Web 2.0 Asia :: When it comes to online voting, nobody beats the Koreans

Web 2.0 Asia :: When it comes to online voting, nobody beats the Koreans:
"2008/04/18 17:32

(Tipped by Joyce Kim) Rain, a Korean popstar, is yet again getting the most votes for this year's Time magazine 100 Most Influential People list.

Joyce calls Rain '...the biggest guy in Asia, like Michael Jackson and JT rolled up into one. Mega mega star in Asia...' (Who's JT by the way? Oh, a quick googling tells me it must be Justin Timerlake - he comes out on top).

Rain received the most votes last year - Notice (the venerable) Steve Jobs was at a mere #11.

Is Rain really the most influential person of the world? Is he really making this world a better place to live? I don't know about that. (For his fans, I'm sure he is.) But the vote clearly shows that, when it comes to online voting, no one really beats the internet-savvy Koreans. Although most Korean fans of Rain might not understand English, they won't have problem recognizing how to push Rain to the top on the online voting. They'd do the same even if the sites are in Russian.

Joyce's service,, encourages its users to go vote for Rain - If you happen to be a Rain fan (which I highly doubt given the audience of this blog), here's the link for you to show some love for Rain."

Web 2.0 Asia :: KT launches a $3/mo. unlimited wireless internet plan for iPod/iPhone users

Web 2.0 Asia :: KT launches a $3/mo. unlimited wireless internet plan for iPod/iPhone users:

KT (Korea Telecom) announced it will start offering a $3-per-month unlimited wireless internet access plan for the users of its 'NESPOT' WLAN hotspot service.

This means that the iPod touch users who have Skype account can practically use their iPod touch as a phone (via Skype), at only three bucks a month. (Plus your Skype fees, of course, but those won't be huge).

Well, given the ubiquity of NESPOT coverage, at least in Korea, who needs an iPhone when they can use iPod touch + Skype + $3/month NESPOT?"

Monday, April 21, 2008

[Hankyoreh, April 9 2008] S. Korea protests Japan's claim over Dokdo

South Korea has lodged a strong complaint over Japan's renewed campaign to lay claim to Dokdo, a cluster of South Korean islets in the East Sea, a government official said Tuesday.

In February, Japan's Foreign Ministry claimed on its Web site that Dokdo belongs to its territory both historically and legally.

Dokdo, known for its rich fishing waters, is the decades-old cause of a serious diplomatic row between the two neighboring nations, although Seoul effectively controls it. A small unit of South Korean maritime police is stationed on the inhabited rocky outcroppings.
[Hankyoreh, April 21 2008] Samsung and JoonAng Ilbo to file suit against whistleblower Kim Yong-cheol

Court cases could shed new light on allegations not fully examined by independent counsel

Samsung Group and the JoongAng Ilbo are reportedly about to file civil and criminal suits against former Samsung lawyer Kim Yong-cheol. The action comes after independent counsel Cho Joon-woong announced the results of his investigation into allegations against the nation’s largest conglomerate. In the process, allegations which were not fully examined by the independent counsel may be given a new look.
[Hankyoreh, April 18 2008] Seoul to allow private radio transmission to N.K.

South Korea will consider revising a policy that prohibits private radio broadcasters from transmitting to North Korea, President Lee Myung-bak told American legislators Thursday.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-California) said he raised the issue when he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other legislators met the president.

"He said the broadcasting was important and they were looking at a policy that would allow private broadcasting into North Korea from South Korea," Royce said in a teleconference with reporters.

The prohibitions were put in place in 2000 to disallow privately funded radio stations based in Seoul from transmitting to North Korea.
[Hankyoreh, April 17 2008] [Editorial]Innovative cities project should be kept

The “innovative cities” (hyeoksin dosi) construction project, initiated with the idea of correcting the serious imbalance between the greater capital region and the provinces, is taking a beating. A Board of Audit and Inspection , or BAI, report released on April 15 says the economic effects were exaggerated, and the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs is going on the offensive. By the looks of it, this project, so ambitiously pursued by President Roh Moo-hyun, could end up being scrapped.

A massive state project that was going to involve trillions of won should not be turned back by herding public opinion into one corner, all the more so because “innovative cities” are supposed to be about deterring centralization in the greater capital region and achieving balanced regional development.
[Hankyoreh, April 9 2008] Major S. Korean newspapers in flux under new administration

Changes in editorial position reflect shift in political landscape, desire for individuality and power

Are South Korea’s three major newspapers going a different way under the Lee Myung-bak administration? The Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo and Dong-A Ilbo have been critical of previous governments in their reports and editorials, but their editorial positions seem to be changing these days, presenting different views of the major polices and political moves made by the Lee administration, which took office on February 25. Chosun seems to be distancing itself from the incumbent government, while the other two are being more friendly toward it.


Still, some dismiss the idea that there is a difference between the three publications, saying that it is too early to talk about any changes in the political leanings of the three newspapers. Choi Kyung-jin, a professor at the Catholic University of Daegu, said, “Chosun has been maintaining a pro-business stance, especially regarding the Samsung scandal and other big issues ... We cannot say for certain that Chosun is keeping a distance from the government by analyzing articles from just the past one or two months.”
[Hankyoreh, April 7 2008] Amateur radio operators prepare to contact S. Korean astronaut

Preparations for local student amateur radio operators to talk with South Korea's first astronaut while in space are complete, organizers for the event said Saturday.

The Korean Amateur Radio League (KARL) said 30 students at a high school in Pyeongtaek, about 60 km south of Seoul, rehearsed procedures to contact the International Space Station (ISS) while it orbits Earth.

Each student will be allowed to pose questions to Yi So-yeon, who is to become the first South Korean national to reach space next week.

"Students are curious about how Yi felt when she was blasting off into space on a rocket, and what it feels like to be in a near-weightless environment," said a KARL organizer.
[Hankyoreh, April 4 2008] S. Korea's electronic securities transactions up 20.6 pct in 2007

South Korea's electronic securities transactions rose 20.6 percent in 2007 from a year earlier, mainly because people engaged in more online trading amid the market's bull run, the financial watchdog said Friday.