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[KH Biz Forum] Faster changes, greater chances in post-COVID-19 era

ICT minister, AmCham chairman, experts offer insights on digital transformation, non-face-to-face business

From left: Seoul National University professor Kim Ran-do; Amazon Global Selling Korea chief Lee Sung-han; American Chamber of Commerce in Korea Chairman James Kim; Herald Corp. CEO Kwon Chung-won; Science and ICT Minister Choi Ki-young; Fair Trade Commission Vice Chairman Kim Jae-shin; Samsung Electronics Vice President Jamie Choi; and Herald Corp. Executive Vice President Kim Bo-hyun attend The Korea Herald Biz Forum held at The Shilla in Seoul on Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
From left: Seoul National University professor Kim Ran-do; Amazon Global Selling Korea chief Lee Sung-han; American Chamber of Commerce in Korea Chairman James Kim; Herald Corp. CEO Kwon Chung-won; Science and ICT Minister Choi Ki-young; Fair Trade Commission Vice Chairman Kim Jae-shin; Samsung Electronics Vice President Jamie Choi; and Herald Corp. Executive Vice President Kim Bo-hyun attend The Korea Herald Biz Forum held at The Shilla in Seoul on Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
South Korean business representatives, policymakers and government officials gathered at the annual The Korea Herald Biz Forum in its third iteration Tuesday to share insights on changing consumer patterns, business regulations and new economic growth engines in the post-COVID-19 world.

Under the theme “Contact less, connect more,” this year’s forum was held at The Shilla in Seoul and was livestreamed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the speakers were Kim Jae-shin, vice chairman of the Fair Trade Commission; Kim Ran-do, a Seoul National University professor and author of bestselling series “The Trend Korea”; Lee Sung-han, head of Amazon Global Selling Korea; Jamie Choi of Samsung Electronics; and Choi Yoon-sup, managing partner of Digital Healthcare Partners. 
Participants attend “The Korea Herald Biz Forum: Contact less, connect more” forum held at The Shilla in Seoul, Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Participants attend “The Korea Herald Biz Forum: Contact less, connect more” forum held at The Shilla in Seoul, Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Minister of Science and ICT Choi Ki-young delivered congratulatory remarks.

“COVID-19 is now adding to uncertainty around the world and in many ways. However, (the crisis) is also accelerating digital transformation in various areas by promoting non-face-to-face economic and social activities.”

The minister said how to respond to the paradigm shift caused by COVID-19 will determine the future of not only companies, but also the countries.

“Countries around the world are promoting industrial innovation through large-scale investments in digital infrastructure such as 5G and artificial intelligence in order to overcome the stagnant economic situation and respond to a new future to come,” he said.

The Korean government is also preparing a non-face-to-face transition strategy for the post-coronavirus era, according to Choi. The ministry is trying to make a structural transition to the digital economy through the digital new deal policy announced in July as part of the Korean version of the New Deal.

“By building a ‘data dam,’ we plan to accelerate the use and convergence of data, 5G and AI in all industries, and promote digitalization of education, transportation, water resources and logistics.” 
Science and ICT Minister Choi Ki-young delivers congratulatory remarks. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Science and ICT Minister Choi Ki-young delivers congratulatory remarks. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
In another congratulatory speech, American Chamber of Commerce in Korea Chairman James Kim said that amid the new normal after COVID-19, “fourth industrial revolution” industries such as information technology, health care, energy and the sharing economy are going to be the key to Korea’s economic recovery and to the future of business.

“The COVID pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation in industry and in daily life. Frankly, companies should already be accelerating their digital formation, or transformation and now is the great time to rethink that strategy,” Kim said.

“More companies are doing their work on the cloud and utilizing virtual instead of in-person meeting. Students have continued their education in virtual classrooms. Families separate by quarantines have kept in touch because of the technologies that many of the tech companies have provided for everybody.”
AmCham Chairman James Kim delivers a congratulatory speech. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
AmCham Chairman James Kim delivers a congratulatory speech. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)
Kim said he is proud that many AmCham member companies, such as AWS, IBM, Microsoft, Google and Facebook, are all here to accelerate the transformation.

“The Korean government’s leadership in the digital new deal and the US companies’ eagerness for more opportunities to collaborate is what makes it very successful. Over time I expect to see even more collaboration between Korean companies and US companies and between two governments because we need to work together for stronger partnership.”

Delivering the first lecture, Kim Jae-shin, FTC vice chairman, said that as the digital industry was surging worldwide, the need for regulating big tech firms was also growing. Kim had been in charge of South Korea’s task force this year on preparing regulations and guidelines on online platforms.

Kim predicted that competition authorities in each country will tighten the law as online transactions are increasing enormously in the wake of coronavirus. Inevitably, the law enforcement at the global level will emerge, he said.

Professor Kim Ran-do in his lecture said the virus has changed the speed, not the direction, of the trend. Without self-innovation and change, it will be difficult for companies to survive even if coronavirus ends, he said.

Amazon’s Lee Sung-han told participants to turn a crisis into an opportunity with cross-border e-commerce. He picked two areas -- “food” and “middle-aged people” -- as new emerging sectors in the pandemic, citing the surge in food delivery and the new entry of middle-aged people to the market for online transactions.

Vice President Jamie Choi of Samsung Electronics in her lecture discussed future consumer trends, while Choi Yoon-sup presented the growth potential of the non-face-to-face medical market. 

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)


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