Korea in the information society

By Kim Young-won
  • Published : May 18, 2014 - 20:48
  • Updated : May 18, 2014 - 20:48
MSIP director general Min Won-ki
On May 17, the world celebrated World Telecommunications and Information Society Day. The United Nations established the day to recognize the ever-increasing impact of information and communications technologies in our daily lives. The theme of this year’s WTISD was “Broadband for Sustainable Development.”

In recognition of Korea’s contribution to broadband, the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union recognized President Park Geun-hye as a laureate of the 2014 World Telecommunication and Information Society Award.

There can be little doubt that the Korean people have benefited immensely from the strategic application of broadband technologies as Korea today stands at the forefront of the information society.

For the past four years, Korea has topped all major indices relating to ICT, including the ITU’s ICT Index for measuring the information society, which annually ranks ICT developments, services and associated prices in over 150 countries.

The roots of this success date back to the 1990s, when the Korean government, private sector and civil society came together to develop a national broadband “blueprint,” and polices that would guide Korea into the information society.

Critical to this national broadband plan were polices designed to foster competition among industry-service providers, and balance their broadband supply output with growing consumer demand.

Policies implementing human resource capacity-building programs were also essential toward training more than 10 million people and ensuring that broadband technology and services were accessible at all levels of Korean society.

More importantly, Korea has demonstrated strong leadership in working to make sure that other countries and all peoples can benefit from broadband and become meaningful participants of the information society.

The case of Korea’s development is perhaps the most obvious contribution to this effort as Korea is always willing to share its best practices and lessons learned with helping other countries develop their own national broadband plans.

Korea also actively engages with developing countries by providing on-site technical expertise for large, national ICT development projects.

In addition to bilateral support, Korea routinely demonstrates its capacity to facilitate multilateral cooperation on the information society at the international level.

A case in point is the ITU’s 19th Plenipotentiary Conference to be held in Busan over a three-week period in October and November.

Expected to welcome more than 3,000 ICT government and private-sector leaders from around the world, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference will set the vision and strategic plan of the 193 member-state ITU over the next four years.

Indeed, the Plenipotentiary Conference will take stock of the resources and programs that are being utilized to extend the reach of ICTs, and contribute important ideas and information to many of the most intensely discussed ICT topics of the day, such as strengthening cybersecurity and reducing the digital divide.

This ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, like the 2014 World Telecommunication and Information Society Award, demonstrates the trust that the global ICT community has in Korea’s capacity and capability to facilitate progress on ICT for global development.

Korea as a nation should be proud of this recognition and appreciate the responsibility that this accomplishment bestows.

Much work still needs to be done to ensure that all may benefit from broadband and the information society.

Korea has demonstrated its commitment to this very important goal, and at October’s ITU Plenipotentiary Conference, Korea will continue to take a leading role in its achievement. 

By Min Won-ki

The writer is the director general of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. ― Ed.