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With MWC 2020 canceled, Korean firms put plans on hold

The Barcelona-based Mobile World Congress has withstood a bevy of bad news in its 33-year history, including the global financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic of 2002-2003, but it has now failed to survive the most recent viral outbreak from China.


MWC 2020 has been completely off called, according to the announcement on Thursday made by the GSMA, the organizer of the world’s largest wireless show. It is the first time for the annual show to be canceled since the inaugural event in 1987.

The decision, which came about 10 days before the kickoff, left Korean firms to find their own ways in kick-starting their 2020 global marketing. Korean firms that had planned to participate in the MWC 2020 are now internally readjusting their plans to roll out their visions and future products.

Korean end-product manufacturer LG Electronics is expected to hold separate events to introduce its lineup. LG Electronics was the first Korean company to decide not to join MWC before the organizer’s ultimate cancellation. The firm, which had planned to introduce its next-generation flagship smartphones V60 ThinQ and LG G9 ThinQ, is expected to now hold related events in March in line with its US launch of the V60 ThinQ.

Automaker Kia Motors was to showcase its shift toward electric vehicles, as well as connected car technologies. But Kia Motor’s showcase will have to wait until the Geneva International Motor Show, which is slated to kick off March 5 -- if it does not get canceled.

The cancellation of MWC is also holding back local mobile carriers, who were ready to share their new 5G services via dozens of productive business meetings with global players in the industry.

SK Telecom President and CEO Park Jung-ho, a member of the GSMA board, was going to travel to Barcelona for business meetings scheduled on-site, but the press conference was canceled prior on growing concerns over the coronavirus.

LG Uplus co-Vice Chairman and CEO Ha Hyun-hwoi was also to travel to MWC, where he was to showcase 5G services the company has recently signed to export to European mobiles carriers. Exported services included virtual reality and augmented reality technologies as well as cloud gaming services. Ha planned to join about 10 meetings with officials from foreign companies, including Qualcomm and Google.

KT’s newly appointed CEO Koo Hyun-mo was going to participate before his inauguration in March, but his global market debut as KT’s head has been put on hold.

Upon canceling the event, the GSMA said it “has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event.”

By Shim Woo-hyun (