By Kim Hyelin and Yoon Sojung
Korea ranks eighth this year in digital competitiveness, up two notches from last year.
The Ministry of Science and ICT on Oct. 3 said Korea this year placed eighth among 63 countries in digital competitiveness as ranked by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD).
The country has steadily risen on the list over the last few years, going from 19th in 2017 to 14th in 2018 and tenth last year.
The IMD rankings measure a country's capacity and preparedness in 52 detailed criteria under the three factors of knowledge, technology and future readiness.
The U.S. finished No. 1 and Singapore second on this year's list, the same as in last year. Denmark ranked third, followed by Sweden, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the Netherlands. China placed 16th and Japan 27th.
Korea showed overall improvement by earning higher scores in all three factors.
Korea ranked third in future readiness, up a notch from last year, thanks to its top scores in e-participation and internet retailing under the adaptive attitudes section. The category measures a country's readiness in digital transition.
In technology, Korea ranked 12th, up five notches from last year and mainly led by having the world's second-fastest broadband speed. The category measures capacity for digital innovation development.
In the knowledge section that gauges the capacity for understanding, discovering and expanding new technology, Korea ranked 10th, up from 11th from last year, thanks to high scores in expenditures on research and development (R&D) and R&D personnel per capita.
The ministry said in a news release, ''Through cooperation with other government ministries, we will improve weaker indexes such as those on technology development and adaptation, fostering female researchers and investment in the communications sector.''
By Xu Aiying and Yoon Sojung
Though it might sound like a science fiction novel, daily life in Korea in 2045 could see major scientific and technological advances.
The Ministry of Science and ICT on Aug. 26 announced the plan "Science and Technology Future Strategies 2045" at the 12th meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on Science & Technology in Seoul.
The plan shows what daily life could be in 2045, the centennial anniversary of national liberation, covering eight challenges Koreans will face in the future.
For climate change, the ministry aims to slow global warming by using high efficiency and eco-friendly energy and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology. Its blueprint also envisions a data-based management system for disasters and the securing of technologies to tackle climate change, such as the use of materials emitting no fine dust.
Curing what are now incurable diseases and brain-related ailments is also among the eight tasks. The plan mentions gene editing and stem cell treatments for cancer and hereditary diseases as solutions to these problems.
Advances in science and technology are expected to raise abundance and convenience in society. The ministry will also secure food for the future by establishing ICT-based, 24-hour unmanned agricultural and fish farms and factories to operate year round.
By securing clean hydrogen energy and expanding urban solar power, the strategies aim to secure a stable energy supply and advanced futuristic technologies such as the development of mini-size batteries with large capacity, space-based solar cells and power generation through nuclear fusion.
The strategies seek to develop technologies contributing to equality, non-discriminatory communication and social trust. The ministry said the plan will help people communicate using virtual reality and enable humans, machines and animals to communicate through brain waves, which will allow unique experiences.
These strategies are expected to create a more trustworthy and safer network environment backed by blockchain, quantum cryptographic communication and next-generation future security technologies.
Moving vehicles will see a major paradigm shift. For example, a manned spaceship will make a roundtrip from Seoul to New York within two hours.
By Oh Hyun-woo and Yoon Sojung
A wearable electrocardiogram measuring device that sends a patient's data to his or her doctor is Korea's first product exempt from regulations under the government's regulatory sandbox program.
Developed by the Korean startup Huinno, the Memowatch was one of several items included in a regulatory sandbox approved by the Ministry of Science and ICT on Feb. 14 in the first meeting of a national committee on new technologies and services.
Huinno had developed the Memowatch in 2015 ahead of Apple but could not release the product on the market because of regulatory issues. The Korean company plans to commercialize the device in Korea after receiving medical equipment certification from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety next month.
Memowatch sends electrocardiogram data from the wearer to a doctor. If an abnormal symptom is detected, the smart device relays the information to the doctor, who then instructs the user to come to the hospital for medical assistance.
The device enables doctors to collect electrocardiogram data on their patients without the latter needing to visit the hospital.
Other items selected for regulatory exemption included a mobile e-billing system for paying public fees and an online bridging service that remotely accepts applications for clinical tests.
Minister of Science and ICT Yoo Young Min said, "We will actively look for more cases to grant regulatory sandbox waivers to as long as they don’t hamper public safety and daily life," adding, "I hope the regulatory sandbox can serve as a stepping stone for innovation in ICT and related services."
The regulatory sandbox exempts or postpones the enforcement of regulations on new technologies or products for a designated time to expedite their launch. The system grants a waiver for a product or service during testing from regulations governing a designated region or grants temporary market access.
LG U+ CEO Ha Hyun Hwoi (left), KT CEO Hwang Chang-Gyu (second from left),
Minister of Science and ICT Yoo Young min (third from left) and SK Telecom CEO Park Jung Ho
pose for a photo after their meeting at the Merriott Park Center in Yeouido, Seoul, on July 17. (Yonhap News)
By Lee Yoonseo and Kim Young Shin
Three major Korean phone and data carriers -- SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ -- will jointly launch the world’s first 5G services in March 2019. This move is in response to the Moon administration’s goal to make Korea the first country in the world to actualize 5G technologies.
Minister of Science and ICT Yoo Young min held a meeting with the CEOs of the three companies -- LG U+ CEO Ha Hyun Hwoi, KT CEO Hwang Chang-Gyu and SK Telecom CEO Park Jung Ho -- to discuss the commercialization of 5G services, at the Marriott Park Center in Yeouido, Seoul, on July 17.
“In order to make Korea the first country to commercialize 5G technology and to dominate the global market, suppliers should avoid competition to be first,” said Minister Yoo. “I urge your three companies to cooperate with each other on this.”
“To allow all related industry entities to share the benefits of the first-mover advantage, you three companies should try to grow together by keeping a win-win partnership,” Yoo said.
“We will vitalize the industrial ecosystem, as well as 5G network investments, as we develop our competitiveness,” said the SK Telecom CEO.
“Generally, 4G services were related to B2C businesses, but currently only a small number of B2C businesses remain,” said the KT CEO. “More investments are needed in the new 5G services as they are more related to B2B business models and more related to the public interest.”
The LG U+ CEO also said that his company will launch 5G services as per the schedule suggested by the government.
The three companies will finish selecting their equipment providers next month and begin building a commercial network in September.
By Jung Joo-ri and Yoon Jihye
Video = Park Jang-bhin
Icheon l March 8, 2018
A high-tech curling match recently took place between a human team and a specially designed curling robot.
The Ministry of Science and ICT hosted the match between an up-and-coming men’s curling team and the robot, appropriately named Curly, at the Curling Center of Korea Paralympic Committee (KPC) Icheon Training Center on March 8. The robot was developed by some 60 researchers from eight institutions, including Korea University and the Ulsan National Institute of Science andTechnology (UNIST).
In the first ever curling match in the world against a robot, Curly played two games against a high school team from the Chuncheon Mechanical and Technological High School in Gangwon-do Province.
In the first game, Curly won 1:0. The robot figured out the rules in general, just as a human would, and threw a series of great take outs to score.
In the second game, the high school team won 3:0. The human team only used its sweeping skills and scored one point in the first end, and won the second end as well with two points, in which both teams only threw their stones without sweeping.
However, the robot showed better performance than expected. This was possible as it has collected data and studied it all in-depth. Curly used the 1,321 records of the strategy used in international curling games and built its game data base of 160,000 throws based on date from between 2014 and 2017. Nevertheless, uncertainty arose from the subtle difference in temperature and humidity at the venue, giving the high school team victory.
Professor Lee Seong-whan of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Engineering at Korea University, part of the research team, said, “A perfect throw is practically impossible because of various problems like ice conditions. Once a sweeper robot is developed to reduce errors as much as possible, in autumn this year, accuracy concerning draws, take-outs and other strategy building plans is expected to be much greater.”
Kim Jae-won, who played on the high school team, said, “I thought the game against a robot would be more boring than against humans, but it was rather exciting. Practicing with robots like Curly will help improve our skills.”
Curly was developed with support from the Ministry of Science and ICT in April last year. The research team aims to build a sweeping robot and raise its throwing skills to a professional level by December.