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Digitalization of govt. services moved up amid pandemic


South Korea's government has brought forward the digitalization of public services, as social distancing has become a new normal and face-to-face meetings are no longer desired amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The government announced Tuesday a revised version of the digital innovation plan for public services, taking into consideration a variety of social changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous version was announced in October last year.

According to the plan, driver's licenses will be digitalized by the end of next year and certificates of people with disabilities by 2022. The government had originally planned to introduce the mobile driver's licenses in 2022 but brought it forward.

"The government is trying to introduce a mobile identification system sooner than expected because there is a pressing need for more non-in-person services while tackling the coronavirus pandemic," Yoon Jong-in, vice minister at the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, said during a press briefing Tuesday.

It has not been determined when citizens' identification cards will be digitalized, the vice minister added.

The government also plans to roll out the "my data" service within this year, through which citizens can check and manage their personal information scattered across various government agencies.

The government plans to build a portal site dedicated to the purpose and to expand the service to the financial and medical sectors next year.

Within this year, the "people's secretary" service will be available to customize public services for individual needs. For example, citizens can get alerts for tax payment or public health check-ups.

In line with the digitalization of public services, the government will build more infrastructure to bolster online education.

Among other things, free public Wi-Fi will be built at around 200,000 schools nationwide within this year, and online textbook will be more widely available.

The government is also set to integrate 156 public call centers nationwide by 2023 to provide faster and more convenient public services. It will make public data more widely available, so that people can access public services through private mobile applications.

"To make people's lives more convenient, the government will continue to push ahead with the digital innovation of public services," said Interior Minister Chin Young. (Yonhap)