Korea's Weird Wired World

from the a-glimpse-of-the-future? dept

There have been a number of stories recently about the impact of faster broadband wireless and wireline connections. Increasingly, people are looking to Korea as a testbed for what a totally connected world is like. Forbes is running an article that discusses some of the cultural changes in Korea due to ubiquitous broadband (both wired and wireless). As you might expect, it suggests that there are some good things and some bad. Parts of the article read like typical “blame the new technology” stories, which is unfortunate, because the stories are interesting. For example, just like we were discussing people blaming the internet for divorce in the US – it’s happening at an increasing rate in Korea. 60% of divorce cases in Korea say it’s because a partner had an affair online. It also sounds like people are beginning to blur the boundaries between the offline and online world. The article leads off with a story about a teen who stole money from his parents… to buy virtual clothes online. The boy was punished by his parents (who cut down on his internet time), but they also agreed to go online with him to learn about the virtual world. Lots of other stories, including how the crush of young people sending messages to others’ mobile phones may have helped elect the current president. While not everything that happens there will apply elsewhere, it’s definitely one of the most interesting places to watch these days.

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Comments on “Korea's Weird Wired World”

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Derek (user link) says:

More to the story

That said, while DSL penetration in South Korea is higher than any other country (65% households), this success has been achieved by offering service at very low prices (about one third of the price in the EU, about US$15/mo). I would agree with the Ovum group, which advises global Telcos to avoid being dazzled by the luster of the deep penetration figures, and instead focus on pricing service in long-term sustainable ways. Selling service at a loss is sometimes a good way to enter a market, but at some point the ink needs to turn from red to black.

Tony @ Motorola says:

Re: More to the story

Particulat aspects of the Korean market make it possible to offer DSL at such a low cost. Among these are the fact that nearly the entire population in Seoul lives in massive apartment blocks (it’s an amazing thing to see if you ever visit). Second is the government’s push to make Korea into a technology society — this is largely based on the success achieved in Singaport that Korea is mimicing. One example of how this works is to look at subsidies by cell phone companies. In general they are prohibited by the government, unless there is a new technology (like 3G) they want to push. In these cases, they allow subsidies. If not, the prohibit them making it possible for the carriers to charge a premium for the cell phones and invest the profit in value add services such as cyber-cafes and affinity programs with retailers and restaurants. The average selling price for a cell phone in Korea is US$400.

Anonymous Coward says:


It will be interesting to see the social implications of this as the years go by. It wouldn’t surprise me if South Korea acquires the highest divorce rate in the world, the highest rates of prostitution in the world, where parents think nothing of 4-year-olds getting body piercings and green hair. If the older generation complains, wired voters can decide to have “National Euthanasia Day” and throw all the old people off of high buildings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hypermodernization

Euthanasia days are a folk tradition in East Asia also. Whenever communities ran out of food, they took old people into the mountains and left them there. It’s not unlike the European tradition of leaving kids in the forest when times got tough.

If old people reject the internet culture and demand its abolishment, we could have mobs of young people take matters into their own hands.

okay...... says:

Re: Hypermodernization

uhm i think you are making a huge mistake, because many people in korea are still very conservative. Most of the parents in korea DO NOT think nothing of their children getting body piercing, maybe parents in your country do. I hope you would think before you state a statement. And speaking of body piercing, many parents in other countries get their children’s ear pierced, even before asking them whether they want it get pierced or not. I think you should study korean’s culture more and remember that your claim may bring koreans’ antipathy towards your country, making a fatal damage of international relationship between your country and Korea.

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