The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on June 11 announced a roadmap to make Korea's disinfection model a global standard at the sixth meeting of the Central Economic Response Headquarters at Government Complex-Seoul. The photo shows a medical worker checking equipment used to test for the novel coronavirus disease. (Yonhap News)
By Xu Aiying and Yoon Sojung
With Korea's response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) receiving global accolades, the government has devised a roadmap to make the nation's disinfection model a global standard.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on June 11 announced plans to devise the roadmap at the sixth meeting of the Central Economic Response Headquarters at Government Complex-Seoul.
The roadmap seeks to build the "K-disinfection model," based on the "3T" concept of test, trace and treatment, in a systematic manner and propose a combined 18 global standards to the International Standard Organization.
In the testing and confirmation stage, Korea will propose six standards such as diagnostic agents, testing methods and management of testing centers to accurately diagnose the coronavirus and classify confirmed cases. In the clinical research and trace stage, it will propose four standards including a mobile app to effectively trace and manage people in self-isolation, as well as a support system for clinical research. And in the isolation and treatment stage, eight standards will be proposed like the operation of lifestyle treatment centers to isolate and treat confirmed patients and social distancing guidelines.
The plan also includes the standardization of clinical data and standard materials, both of which are obtained in the disinfection research and development process.
Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Sung Yun-mo said, "In the past, when a deadly infectious disease broke out in the international community, a standardized disinfection model was unavailable. For this reason, proposing standardization under our leadership holds significance."
"Through the standardization of the Korean disinfection model as the global standard, we will strive to bolster our leadership and use this as an opportunity to lead the new international order."
Youve seen the headlines and viral videos out of Korea, but how well doyou really know the country? Here are a few stats and facts to helpyou understand why Korea today is one of the most competitiveeconomies in Asia and an emerging startup hub.
Koreahas a population of just over 50 million people, packed into a countryabout the same land area of Iceland, England (not the entire UK), orthe U.S. state of Indiana. Due to the mostly mountainous terrain andfar greater opportunity in cities versus the countryside, Koreans tendto stack themselves into large, highrise-filled cities like Seoul.Half the population of the country lives within 50 km of Seoul, withendless satellite cities orbiting the capital.
Allof this density gives Korea some advantages that less compressedcountries lack. When Korea started wiring itself for the internet inthe 1990s, economies of scale meant it could go straight to broadband,bypassing the dial-up era. This advantage has also kept Korea ahead asit has upgraded its wireless networks to 2G, 3G and LTE servicescovering every cranny of the country, far faster than similarlypopulated ports of call.
Italso means that the country s entire value chain is compressed into anarea that can be traversed in just two or three hours by high speedtrain or a couple hours more by car.
FromExporting Goods to Exporting Goodness
Asof January 2017, Korea has 15 free-trade agreements (FTAs) covering 52countries; more are in progress. This warm welcome for internationalpartnerships results in Korea consistently placing in the Top 15Global Economies, with a GDP over USD 1.4 trillion (1 USD = 1135 KRW).One of the key factors to Korea s economic success is its government sglobal focus and support.
Previouslyravaged by war, Korea s economy took off in the 1960s when itestablished an export-oriented economy that sent products ofever-increasing value all over the world. Trade makes up 70% of Koreas GDP and numbers continue to rise. Exports were up 13.7% year-on-yearas of March of 2017.
Now,Korea exports more than just products. The Korean InternationalCooperation Agency (KOICA), established in 1991, sends Koreanvolunteers and development experts around the world to buildfriendships with developing countries. KOICA s mission is to fostereconomic growth and self-sufficiency, helping other nations rise toKorea s level of prosperity.
Nolonger a “peripheral” country as some previously believed, Korea hasjoined the world s decision-makers. As Korea s international statusrises, so does its sense of duty to the international community.
Startedwith a Big Bang
Its nearly impossible to escape the Hallyu wave that has rocked theglobe. Hallyu or the Korean Wave first appeared in the mid-1990s afterKorean TV dramas (K-dramas) and pop music (K-pop) found widespreadpopularity in China. In 2013, My Love From the Star gained over 2.5billion views in China alone, becoming one of the most influentialK-dramas of the last five years and jumping Korea s inbound arrivalsto a record 12.2 million visitors.
Sincethen, the audience demand for K-entertainment has surged. From Asia toEurope to North America and the world, one can t escape names such asTwice, BTS or Big Bang. Over 1,000 hallyu-related organizations areofficially registered with a combined global membership of over 10million people. PSY s Gangnam Style still reigns as the most viewedYouTube music video in the world with almost 3 billion views.
Cultfollowings for K-dramas and K-pop have given rise to the mostsuccessful K-industry yet: K-beauty (Korean skincare products). Koreanwomen spend twice as much of their income on beauty products andmake-up than Americans, and Korean men spend more on skincare thanthose in any other country.
Thishas paved the way for extremely successful Korean startups thatspecialize in commercializing K-beauty products. The Korean beautyindustry has grown at a rate of 9.2%, 3.5 times the rate of the wholeeconomy. Memebox, a K-beauty startup, was, for a time, the fastestgrowing beauty brand in the world. Yearly sales hit USD 4.7 million by2013, helping the company attract USD 100 million in investments and aspot in Y Combinator.
Asias Unicorn Breeding Grounds
Whilemany people associate Korean tech with global brands like Samsung, LGand Hyundai, innovative startups and SMEs are passionately working toalso change the world in significant ways. Korea s tech giants arerecognizing the importance of startups and are heavily investing inbreeding and fostering further innovation.
Manysuccessful startup ventures have hatched from Korea s plentifulincubators and accelerators. Samsung launched Creative Lab (commonlyreferred to as C-Lab) to incubate ideas from employees. Such programsare becoming more common as Korea continues to set the world s pacefor technological advances and innovation. Naver, Korea s sixthlargest company and biggest web portal, is also pursuing advancedtechnologies. Earlier this year, Naver committed USD 443 million inrelated research and development for the next five years, vowing tostep up support for creators and small businesses.
Thiskind of development perfectly matches the highly educated and drivenpopulation. Korea s PISA scores for math, science, and reading areamong the highest in the world; Korea also is one of the biggesteducation investors in the world. On average, Korea spends roughly7.4% of its GDP on education, which is the third-highest percent spentafter Iceland and Denmark. Coupled with heavy investments by familyand private donors, this builds an exceptionally strong foundation foracademic success.
Accordingto UNESCO, almost 100% of all potential students are enrolled at everylevel of education and 65% of Koreans earn Bachelor s degrees orbeyond. All this adds up to creating one of the world s most educatedworkforces.
TheCustomer is Always Right
Highlycompetitive products from homegrown companies such as Samsung andHyundai, paired with exceptional customer service, have raised whatmany believe to be the pickiest and most sophisticated consumers inthe world. Famous for spouting the world s fastest internet and one ofthe highest smartphone market penetrations (which is 97.7% amongst 18to 24 year olds), Koreans set the bar for global consumer demands.
Manyglobal companies have already acted on the crucial role Koreanshoppers play in final product design. L Oréal, Philips and Nikon arejust a few international corporations using Korea as a testing groundfor innovative products or for product refinement before massproduction. The Korean population and average household income meansthe perfect sample size every time.
Notonly are Koreans picky about product design, they are exceptionallyvocal. With 90% of broadband internet penetration coupled with thefastest speeds to date, consumer trends spread quickly and widely. Thenumber of online reviews, viewers and comments are 10 times higherthan similar products and blog reviews in the United States.
Suchvocal consumers, with high expectations and an eye for detail, cannotbe found elsewhere. For companies that want to be competitive incustomer service, Korea is the best training ground.
Successis never guaranteed, but in Korea, the odds are built in your favor.Whether it s exploring the royal palace, discovering new exhibits, orpitching your greatest invention yet, experience it all in Korea.
|Erikis Co-founder and COO at G3 Partners. He has more than a decade ofPR, marketing and market research experience in Korea, servingclients ranging in size from startups to Samsung. His professionalpassion is telling thestories of Asian startups to the rest of the world.
G3Partners are Asia s startup marketing, communication andinvestment experts.
Theyprovide a full suite of global services for startups expandingoverseas and raising investment internationally.