Digital Development in Korea
Building an Information Society
By Myung Oh, James Larson
Routledge – 2013 – 244 pages
This book explores the role of digital information and communications technology in South Korea’s development, starting with and building upon the crucial developments of the 1980s. Its perspective draws on the information society concept and on a conceptual model of strategic restructuring of telecommunications. It also draws on firsthand experience in formulating and implementing policies. The analysis identifies aspects of the Korean experience from which developing countries around the world might benefit.
Oh and Larson describe the revolutionary developments of the 1980s including the TDX electronic switching system, a major surge forward in semiconductors, the start of privatization and color television and the thoroughgoing restructuring of Korea’s telecommunications sector. They further explore government leadership, the growing private sector and international trade pressures in the diffusion of broadband, mobile communication, and convergence toward a ubiquitous network society. The role of education in these developments is explored in detail, along with both the positive and negative aspects of Korea’s vibrant new digital media. The book also looks at Korea’s growing international involvement, its role in efforts to build a world information society, and finally, its future place in cyberspace.
This book will be of interest to students, scholars and policy makers interested in communications technologies, Asian/Korean Studies and development studies.
"Myung Oh is the ultimate ICT insider, a man who has been at the table at almost every juncture of decision-making, and with the added credentials of an educational leader. His partner is James Larson, who represents the world’s curiosity by position, research background, and temperament. Together they produced an excellent volume that combines the internal perspective and external distance. While there may have been some prior articles dealing with issues the authors identified, this volume is unique in its scope, historic range, and informed analysis. By being written in English, it opens the world of Korean ICT to non-Koreans. I, for one, plan to re-read it every time I travel to Seoul." - Taken from the Foreword by Professor Eli Noam, Columbia Institute for Tele-Information, Columbia Business School, Columbia University, USA
"Overall, Digital Development in Korea is a unique and comprehensive exploration of the country’s experiences with the expansion of digital information and communications technology. The detailed accounts of the revolutionary developments from the 1980s provide a useful context to understand information typically excluded from other industry reports. Authors Oh and Larson also do an incisive job of balancing scientific analyses with cultural exploration. They use quantitative measures to analyze South Korea’s ICT rankings and qualitative approaches, such as the examination of cultural settings and specificities, to explain the rapid growth in the country’s ICT sector. In conclusion, the book is highly recommended for those interested in the impact of ICTD on a nation’s economy and the role of the South Korean government in building an information society." - Jieun Shin, University of Southern California; International Journal of Communication 7 (2013).
Foreword by Professor Eli Noam
Chapter 1: Digital Development as Korea’s Destiny
Chapter 2: On the Shoulders of Giants: The 1980s Telecommunications Revolution in Korea
Chapter 3: Government-Led ICT Development in South Korea
Chapter 4: Korea’s Broadband Revolution
Chapter 5: The Mobile Revolution: Early Innovation and the "iPhone Shock"
Chapter 6: Intelligent Buildings, Sentient Cities and the Ubiquitous Network Society
Chapter 7: Education and Building Citizen Awareness
Chapter 8: Korea’s Information Culture and Media Ecology
Chapter 9: Innovation Nation: Korea in the Global Information Society
Chapter 10: Korea’s Place in Cyberspace
Dr. Myung Oh is a former Deputy Prime Minister and holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stony Brook University. As his writings, both published and unpublished, make abundantly clear, his scholarly interests embrace the social, cultural, economic and political implications of what has become possible through electrical engineering. Dr. Oh is a well-known and widely admired public figure in South Korea and internationally, mainly for the central leadership role he played in the nation’s information revolution beginning in the 1980s. More often than any other individual, he is acclaimed as the “godfather” of Korea’s telecommunications revolution. He served longer as a leader in the Ministry of Communications (Seven years and seven months as Vice-Minister and Minister during the 1980s) than anyone else in the history of that Ministry. Subsequently, he became Chairman of the 1993 Taejon International Expo, Minister of Construction and Transportation, and Minister of Science and Technology. The final position carried with it the designation of Deputy Prime Minister.
James F. Larson came to Korea initially as a 23-year old American Peace Corps Volunteer. He taught English for two years at Kangwon National University, then returned to the United States, where he completed a Ph.D. in Communication at Stanford University in 1978. His next experience in Korea came as a senior Fulbright grantee, teaching and conducting research at Yonsei University in 1985-86. That led to a major research program on the Seoul Olympics and his book (with Park Heung Soo) on Global Television and the Politics of the Seoul Olympics. He met Dr. Oh Myung a few years after the Seoul Olympics, during the early stages of planning for the Taejon International Expo. That meeting led eventually to two years of research and the publication of The Telecommunications Revolution in Korea. James Larson’s research interests are strongly complementary to Dr. Oh’s, including television coverage of international affairs, its role with other new media in the modern Olympics, and the interplay of media, public opinion and foreign policy.