Telecommunications in Korea

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Protected: Hybridity and the rise of Korean popular culture

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Social Impact of Internet Usage in South Korea

Due to a huge consumption of internet service, South Korea now is dealing with the new technology threat, the gaming addiction and a new trends of the using internet-based activities, such as shopping and downloading entertainment programs.

1. Gaming Addiction

Telecom Korea – Gaming Addiction vs Gaming Professionalism

How serious is gaming addiction?
According to the Washington Post, 2.4% of South Korea’s population aged 9-39 suffers from gaming addiction. In 2005, ten people died from game addiction related causes. A couple in Incheon was arrested in June 2005 when they left their 4 months old daughter alone for five hours while going to a internet café to play game. The baby dead of suffocation from turning over on her stomach.

South Korean Government support
There are centers for people to find help on gaming addiction operated by The Korean Agency for Digital Opportunity & Promotion (KADO). In 2003, it counseled 2,243 people. The amounts increase in 2004 to 8,978 people and reach over 10,000 people in 2005.
South Korea’s Ministry of Information and Communication is also opening similar centers at universities and funding anti-addiction courses.

Professional Gaming
South Korea has the biggest online gaming community, with the leading players of games, such as Starcraft treated like pop heroes.
South Korea’s government helps fund construction of the World’s first e-sports stadium, to be completed in 2008, where big screens will soon display big competitions.
Professional gamers in South Korea are currently playing Starcraft, FIFA Series, and Warcraft III. There are TV networks provide for 24 hour programming dedicated to PC, console gaming and both cover South Korea’s professional gaming scene.
Ongamenet, for example, broadcasts a three months long Starcraft’s tournament live every particular time. The first winner get cash prize $ 80,000. Second and third place can win up to $ 50,000 and $ 30,000.
Competition to win audiences among broadcasters has become common. The World Cyber Games (WCG) is held to qualifiers professional and amateur gamers at Seoul.

Washington Post – Lost in an Online Fantasy World

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPGs or MMO) has extremely increased from less than a million subscribers in the late 1990s to more than 13 million worldwide in 2006.

The most widely played MMO, Blizzard Entertainment World of Warcraft, has 6.5 millions players worldwide, most of whom played 20 to 22 hours per week.

Nick Yee, a researcher from Stanford graduate and creator of Daedalus Project did a survey of more than 40,000 MMO players, the average player is 26 years old, hold full-time jobs. 70% have played for 10 hours straight at the same point, and about 45% would describe themselves as “addicted.”

“The game gives them a social status and value that they are less and less able to achieve in the real world,” Yee said. “As a result, the real world get worse and the virtual world gets better in comparison.”

2. Online Trading and Entertainment Trends

Guardian – Korea keeps faith with wired world

In South Korea, the leading broadcasters now offer much of their content online. The SBS channel sells downloads of news and other programs an hour after they are broadcasted on television.

Shopping online is also become trends, as the old-fashioned “chaebol” reinvent themselves as e-tailers. Samsung, for example, expects to reach 140 millions pounds in online sales, while LG group is on course to take 54 millions pounds.

As a result, in a recent survey of 10,000 internet users, one in six reported spending more than eight hours a day online in South Korea.

Development of the Internet as a Political Tool in South Korea

Glossary:

Netizens – Active Internet users

Non-gaek amateur columnists

386 generation

The growth of online media is due to a number of factors.

The first been South Korean governments goals.

One of the main goals been to establish a “knowledge based society”.

The government has implemented a series of programmes.

Basic plans of information Promotion (1996)

Cyber Korea 21 (1999)

The Korean government’s efforts to create an information-based society were strengthened with the announcement of Cyber Korea 21. The purpose of Cyber Korea 21 is to realize the vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy under the guidance of the government-led information promotion committee.

The first initiative is to improve the quality of life for the general public. To do this, the government is providing PC units to schools.

The second initiative involves general steps to ensure the competitiveness of Korean industries as a whole, such as support for the construction of e-commerce system in steel, shipbuilding and other traditional industries.

The third initiative is to establish an electronic document distribution system to be used by administrative bodies.

e-Korea vision (2006) Extends cyber Korea 21 to a global stage.

The government has increased the telecommunications budget 3 times over this period from 499.3 billion won in 1996 to 1.6 Trillion won in 2002.

Statistics from 2005 Korea is leading the globe in information infrastructure.

31 million out of 47 million South Koreans have access to very high speed Internet and more than 83 percent of households have computers. Korea also trades the largest volume of online stocks. According to a 2001 survey, during an average Internet session, Koreans scan on average of 96 pages and spend 46 minutes searching for information.

Korea currently ranks above all countries for internet communication technology (ICT).

The next factor in the growth of on-line media has been the dominance of a few mainstream newspapers, who had the power to chose the next president of Korea simply by having the readership to sway public opinion. Add to this certain laws on how political party campaign are broadcast and how politics are discussed, coupled with high internet usage and a developed ICT. All these factors made the Internet the perfect location for political discussion.

While Korea went through a rapid growth phase of information technologies. So did online journalism.

1st phase (1990’s)

Characteristics of this phase Netizens used online bulletin boards to discuss political issues, which was very different from what was happening in mainstream media. Many of these discussions revolved around political and press conservatism.

2nd phase

This phase was characterised by the creating of beta versions of alternate media. This alternate media published parody articles based on mainstream conservative newspapers. Also during this phase users created their own online content to foster alternative media movements.

3rd Phase

During this phase alternative media parody and anti-establishment websites voiced criticism about conservative media but did not succeeded as alternative social media sites. Two sites that did succeed have been Ohmynews and non-gaek sites. What these sites did incredibly well was use citizen participation and interactive communications to mobilize citizens. Ohmynews in particular challenged established conservative media outlets.

Combined with this is citizen e-participation , which is characterised by

1: Convenient access to detailed information

2: Free exchange and expression of opinions

3: Formation of cyber groups

I will now give two examples of how the web has been used in Korea to effectively impact policy and mobilise people to collective action.

The first been the “Blacklist Campaign”.

In the 2000 general election, an alliance of about 500 civic groups, compiled a list of 164 politicians who they considered to be corrupt and unfit for office. The laws in Korea restrict civic groups organising any kind of outdoor political activity. So they turned to the web where the used websites, blogs, alternative online media sites and discussion groups to distribute their list. This campaign was very successful nearly 70 percent of the candidates on the list where not re-elected.

The second been the 2002 election.

The 2002 presidential election showed how powerful online papers and discussions rooms had become in Korea. On the eve of the 2002 election Chung Mong Joon revoked his support for Roh Moo Hyun a reformist presidential candidate of the URI party.

“Chung Mong Joon is the vice president of FIFA and the president of the Korea Football Association. He is also the controlling shareholder in Hyundai Group, the second largest Korean chaebol and one of the largest corporations in the world. Chung is the sixth, and reportedly favorite, son of Hyundai’s founder Chung Ju-yung.

In 1998, Chung won a seat in the National Assembly of South Korea and is now in his fourth term in office. In 2002, he ran for the presidency, where Chung formed a coalition with Roh Moo Hyun to swing voters away from conservative Grand National Party candidate Lee Hoi-Chang.

A talented sportsman, Chung won a silver medal in a national competition for equestrian jumping in 1976, and once placed fourth in a Korean cross-country skiing championship.” Wikipedia

Almost immediately after Joon revoking support for Roh, Ohmynews(OMN) chat rooms were crowded with supporters of Roh. For 10hours about 570.000 people accessed this article on OMN and the total number of pages read reached 20 million. The OMN discussions room was flooded with messages asking people to take part in the election. Netzitens also made plans for Election Day to use the Internet and mobile phones for a massive campaign urging people to take part in election and vote for Roh. Through this campaign Roh beat the favoured candidate Lee Hoi-Chang of the GNP. Roh gave his first interview to OMN.

The guardian of the United Kingdom published this heading after the victory of Roh

“World’s First Internet President Logs On: Web Already shaping Policy of New South Korean Leader.”

The 2002 presidential election was a pivotal event for the online site OMN and

Online participation and this could lead to offline social political mobilization.

What is Ohmynews?

OHM was founded by Oh Yean Ho who believes Koreans deserved a new type of newspaper; a dynamic user generated unbiased paper to challenge main stream media.

OHM blurs the lines between professional and non-professional journalism by getting the reader to form part of the process and production of news articles.

The difference between OHM and traditional newspaper is that OHM abolished the system of recruiting and training journalists, their motto being “All citizens are journalists”. All citizens can become journalists at OHM. OMN uses “news guerrilla” instead of journalist. News guerrillas turn life episodes into online articles.

In July 2004 there were 34.000 news guerrillas registered with OMN and they write between 150-200 articles day that are published in OMN. What happens with these articles is they are divided into two sections 70% are used in the Ingoel (lively burning charcoal fire) section these articles are normally accurate and relevant. The other 30 percent are placed in Saengnamu (live tree) section. What really separates OMN from other commercial media is that they pursue the evolution of a topic from emergence to disappearance.

Since the 2002 election OMN has become an important outlet in Internet publishing this model is now been used in Western countries and OMN has also started up a Japanese versions.

“The successful South Korean citizen journalism Web site, OhmyNews has received an $11 million investment from Tokyo firm SoftBank”

Red Herring reported Feb. 22.

“”You have made one-way journalism into two-way journalism,” CEO Oh Yeon Ho told a gathering of some of the almost 40,000 OhmyNews contributors, according to Red Herring. “Citizens are no longer spectators. A new era has begun in which regular citizens can become reporters whenever they so desire, and by doing so contribute to public opinion.””

OMN has also opened up a new category the “Independent internet newspaper” the main mode of delivery is the Internet; a weekly edition is also printed.

OMN uses a hybrid model a combination of traditional and alternate elements for its publication organization. OMN uses the Internet as the primary mode of delivery it cuts cost on production while still been able to reach a local and global audience.

OMN has a staff of 60, 35 been staff reporters. OMN also has OhmyTV, a web casting news service, anchored by citizen reporters.

When OMN started it had 727 news guerrillas and increased to 14.000 in October 2001 and 20.000 in November 2002 and by July 2004 had 34.000.

OMN content is provided free online. Citizen reporters, membership readers and anonymous readers pay a voluntary subscription fee. The voluntary charge generates an income off $340.000 from 34.028 contributors of mid September 2004.

OMN would not have happened without Koreas extensive digital telecommunications infrastructure, restrictive laws and conservative news media. In 2001 OMN was ranked 55th most influential source of information Korea by 2004 Ohm was ranked 4th.

In Korea online media has emerged as a powerful alternative to the exciting conservative outlets. Even though there is a lot of change happening in alternative media. Still the mainstream conservative media forces, the main three newspapers been Chosun Ilbo, Donga Ilbo and Joongang Ilbo are still resisting media reforms and still have a combined readership of 75-80 percent.

The conservative media and political forces are still holding back democracy been consolidated in Korea, but online media is now the centre of reformist netizens who produce and exchange ideas and arguments that challenge the existing social order.

 

South Korea and Cyberculture

Our initial project discussion:

Topic of Research:
We want to study how online communities impact offline movements in South Korea. More specifically how social networks play a part in constructing political and social agenda in the country.

Reasons for Research:
1. In the last 5 to 10 years, South Korea has seen exponential increase in Internet usage. It is especially apparent with popular social networking sites like Cyworld.com and sites that promote citizen journalism (ohmynews.com). This phenomenon is also a qualifying factor for many South Korean’s bias toward mainstream news. We want to investigate reasons for this bias and how it has impacted society and the government in South Korea.

2. Study how new media technologies have helped put South Korea on the global platform.

3. The shortcomings and social impacts of rapid advancements in online networks. For example, Internet addiction.