Nº 3 2014 > World Telecommunication and Information Society Award Laureates
Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea
Park Geun-hye, President of the Republic of Korea, was born on 2 February 1952. She graduated from Sogang University, Seoul, in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering. Since then, she has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by several universities, including an Honorary Doctorate in Science by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon, and an Honorary Doctorate in Politics by both Pukyong National University, Busan, and Sogang University. During her high-flying career, Ms Park has been Director of the Yukyoung Foundation, and has chaired Youngnam University in Daegu and the Korea Culture Foundation. From 1974 to 1979, she was Acting First Lady of the Republic of Korea and also served as Honorary President of the Girl Scouts of Korea. From 2000-2004 she was Member of the Gender Equality and Family Affairs Committee, and Member of the Science, Technology, Information and Telecommunication Committee.
From 2004 to 2008, Ms Park was a lawmaker in the 17th National Assembly and served on the Committee for National Defense, Government Administration and Local Autonomy, and the Committee for the Environment and Labour. In 2012, she was a lawmaker in the 18th National Assembly and served on the Committee for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, and the Committee for Strategy and Finance. She was also Chairman of the Emergency Committee of the Saenuri Party. In December 2012, Ms Park was elected as the 18th President of the Republic of Korea and took up office in February 2013. She is the Republic of Korea’s first female President.
The goal of her administration is “to work together with the people to realize economic prosperity, happiness and cultural enrichment”. In this context, her administration will ensure a prosperous life for Koreans by revitalizing the economy. It will also “strive to make life comfortable and happy with tailored welfare programmes and education that nurtures dreams and talents”.
Republic of Korea, world leader in ICT
President Park Geun‑hye’s vision for humanity is built on sustainable development. Speaking via video as a winner of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Award during the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day celebrations held at ITU headquarters on 16 May 2014, President Park said that she sees broadband as essential to achieving this vision because it serves as an enabler of innovation and growth. Recognizing that broadband adds value across the entire spectrum of industries, creating new jobs, the Republic of Korea as an early adopter has been rolling out broadband networks, boosting competition and encouraging investment in the telecommunications market, fostering the information and communication technology industry, and providing education to enhance computer literacy.
President Park’s award was collected on her behalf by Minister Choi Mun-kee. “As the Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning in charge of the Korean ICT Authority, it is truly an honour to accept the World Telecommunication and Information Society Award on behalf of the President of the Republic of Korea. Broadband has been a key infrastructure driving our country’s economic growth since the late 1990s. We are also harnessing broadband as a foundation for convergence and innovation to move beyond the informatization era and realize the vision of ‘creative economy’. Drawing from our experience and capacity, the Republic of Korea now feels a responsibility bestowed on us to participate in international efforts to promote broadband across the world. We will step up efforts towards globalized ICT development as an ITU member and Council Member State.” He added that he would share the highlights of the day’s deliberations with President Park “to help further advance discussions on sustainable development”.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning was created under a reorganization plan initiated by President Park in an effort to generate new sources of economic growth in the areas of science and information technology. Having pledged to create the ministry during her election campaign, President Park announced its creation in February 2013 when she was sworn in. The ministry plans to cement the foundation of science and technology in the Republic of Korea by boosting progress in the fields of basic science and software. ICT is seen as a future growth engine for the country and this ministry will be the main government agency responsible for the nation's future economic growth and job creation.
Connecting all citizens
The Republic of Korea has made information and communication technologies a national priority, and has demonstrated clear leadership both in developing and using such technology, and in formulating targeted policies that have driven growth and uptake.
Some 97 per cent of homes have a broadband Internet connection — and the country enjoys one of the highest average advertised broadband speeds in the world, according to the 2013 edition of ITU’s report: Measuring the Information Society. Published in October 2013, the report features the latest ICT Development Index and ICT Price Basket — two benchmarking tools to monitor information society developments worldwide.
The Index ranks 157 economies, and the Republic of Korea was world number one, for the third consecutive year, in terms of overall development of ICT.
The country was one of the first worldwide to adopt mobile broadband third-generation technologies. It has now passed the 100 per cent penetration rate for active mobile-broadband subscriptions.
Various telecommunication and broadcasting services such as Internet protocol television (IPTV), e‑learning and e‑health have become common for those living in urban areas, thanks to a high-speed broadband network. But so far, delivery of such services to small rural communities has been a challenge. The government has recognized the vital importance of improving the network as a way to deliver high-quality education and healthcare services to farmers and fishermen.
To ensure that all people have Internet access, the government initiated a public Wi-Fi project in 2012, providing free-of-charge Wi-Fi service in public places such as parks, museums and libraries. In cooperation with operators, the government is implementing Wi-Fi networks in public places, sharing the networks to reduce service costs and manage mobile data traffic. Three mobile carriers have already built 2000 public Wi-Fi zones, and plans are under way to deploy 10 000 in total by 2017.
Internet usage among young people in the Republic of Korea is high: by 2012, almost 100 per cent of the country’s young population qualified as digital natives (defined as networked youth aged 15–24 years with five or more years of online experience). Digital natives account for 13.5 per cent of the population of the Republic of Korea, compared to 5.2 per cent globally.
The government has made extensive efforts to adapt its education system to the needs of digital natives and to take advantage of information and communication technology to transform the way students learn. Its Self-directed, Motivated, Adaptive, Resource-enriched and Technology-embedded learning (SMART) Education project aims, by 2015, to ensure that all students will be able to access cloud-based educational services via wireless Internet in school, and use the learning materials whenever and wherever they want. Teachers will also have opportunities to further develop their skills in this area.
Robust ICT industry, robust economy
The country has a strong domestic ICT industry with a number of large manufacturers and operators, including Samsung, LG, KT, Hanaro Telecom and LG Telecom. Other factors that contribute to the country’s strong performance include high educational levels, government awareness and support for ICT projects, as well as an ICT culture — people are ICT savvy and eager to adopt new technologies.
The Republic of Korea has achieved a robust economy, and is one of the world’s key exporters of information and communication technology. Samsung has had the biggest market share in the global flat-panel television market for seven consecutive years. The company has also grown at an astonishing rate to become the world’s largest phone manufacturer, overtaking Nokia. In 2013, its share of the overall handset market grew to 24.6 per cent, having sold around 450 million handsets — almost twice as many handsets as the number-two vendor, Nokia. Samsung also extended its dominance in smartphones to 31.1 per cent, having sold a record 300–314 million smartphones — more than twice as many as the number-two vendor, Apple — according to IDC and Gartner. One in three smartphones sold in 2013 was a Samsung.
The Electronics and Telecom-munications Research Institute in the Republic of Korea predicts that the domestic market in information and communication technology will increase in value from USD 36.5 billion in 2010 to USD 123.7 billion in 2020.
In New Songdo City, the government is creating a “ubiquitous city” on a 1500–acre manmade island off the Republic of Korea’s Incheon coast. When completed in 2015, New Songdo City will include 350 buildings, housing 65 000 residents and a workforce of 300 000 people. A single smart card, created through the innovative use of information and communication technology, will enable residents to take advantage of various transport options. The card will be usable on the subway, to pay for parking at a meter, to see a movie, or to borrow a free public bicycle. Broadband applications will also support municipal services such as a water re-use network, pneumatic waste collection and the energy network.
Mitigating climate change
The rapid industrialization and urbanization induced by the Republic of Korea’s remarkable economic growth has led to significant pressure on its environment and natural resources. Priorities currently include green information and communication technologies, such as green personal computers, telecommunications and servers. Advanced industries relying on information and communication technologies, for example e‑health, smart grid, smart waste management and smart public transport, are also priority areas.
Unlike conventional “dumb” electricity grids, smart grids allow two-way communication between electricity suppliers and consumers, as well as enabling more dispersed generation and storage of power. The smart grid test bed on Jeju Island is expected to become the world’s largest smart grid community for testing advanced smart grid technologies and for the development of new business models.
Since 2012, the Republic of Korea has hosted the secretariat of the United Nations Climate Fund (the Green Climate Fund), a United Nations fund established to distribute some of the aid pledged by developed countries to relatively poorer countries. In future, the Republic of Korea is expected to play a bigger role on the international stage in tackling global challenges, and to become the centre for global efforts to move towards mitigating climate change and promoting green growth.
Inviting delegates to the 19th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, to be held in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 20 October to 7 November 2014, President Park said that the government is working on presenting a vision and path for development that would benefit humanity in a hyper-connected digital world based on the Internet of things. She emphasized that in deciding on the future development and strategies of the ICT sector, the ultimate goal of the conference should be sustainable development.