Korea the Marvel of Information Technology
the current state of Technology in everyday life might be best reflected by narrating a typical day in larger apartment complex in a major city in South Korea (but in today’s networked Korea it doesn’t matter where you are except your Internet connections slower, which still ranks fast among developed nations).
you wake up to the sound or rather favourite song or music video you set-up on your cell phone . you log-on to your on-line portal, community or storage site to see if anything was uploaded by other members throughout the night, and download now when Internet Access is many-timesfold faster than after 3pm~3am . if you’ve been waiting for the latest episode of your favourite TV-series or talk-show abroad : a member there might have uploaded one that was aired three days ago and another whiz-kid with multi-lingual abilities or access to a smooth translator might have uploaded its Korean captions . this will take less than a minute in the morning and less than 3 minutes for full-length medium resolution movies . filez will mostly be in DivX format while sharper formats like *.mkv and *.ts are increasing, although taking 3~5 times more space and take software-tuning to play .
you make sure your cell phone is charged, then off you go to school or work .
if you are taking the subway, you could watch breaking news on TV streaming on your cell phone, either by (ground-based or satelite) DMB (free) or through your Carrier (paid monthly subscription), or even watch other movies you installed on your PMP (Portable Movie Player) or at least listen to mp3 music on your mp3 player . OK you could also continue your language abilities on your Electronic Dictionary, which teaches even in video (downloaded on schedule at the manufacturer’s site), but you delay that for your trip coming back .
if you are taking the car, you route your Navigation to the Start and Goal points, which would automatically adjust for current traffic aired off U.S. military satellites . plus you keep your tiny digital camera on the side seat for you never know what scenes you will encounter today (to upload to a few immensely popular community for sharing photos).
more amazing is the fact that many of the portable machines are Korean, some made-to-order in China . all-the-while your cell phone will keep you alert in real-time of incoming mail AND bank transactions as well as when you use your credit card (or even when your credit has changed).
then once at school, you toddle your sub-notebook between classes and the library for more technologically assisted studies, and if you are at work you might have more than one LCD monitor to deal with, while most of your work will be done in either MS Word or Excel format . ten years ago there was a chance MS Word might give way to a local word-processing program called HWP, but only self-patriotic government subsidiaries use it now, at their own price of non-compliance with MS Word format (it is supposed to, but no it doesn’t). companies are extensively networked within, and inter-company file exchange centered in another few on-line disk space sharing service of which WebHard dominates in South Korea also having English menus for foreign partners to participate, while those in the media require more graphic-oriented services where you can see snapshots of photos or videos .
if your company or store had any sensitive material, it would be subscribed to a security service, which would 1.install electronic devices then 2.patrol the premise day-and-night with their uniformed staff and patrol car . plus the regional telephone company even offers a much discounted version at a fraction of the cost (with slower reaction though).
then yes, traffic . it is the one dreaded nemesis of this country, especially in the Capital of Seoul, that no one knows what to do with .
so much so that I moved South for a while . the real haunt strikes out of the city during national holidays, when all families head back to their birthplace where the automobiles actually form a long, linear garage out in the open . why not take the plane or train ? first there are limited flights and carriages, and the more frequent Express Bus which take longer but again : one has to show off their car back home, a practice dating from the gloomy times when the country was too poor to afford anything, not even a bike, or leather shoe for that matter .. not long ago, circa 1950~70 .
once back at home, chances are that a 42″ LCD TV will share in your living room . if your family is the old-rich kind you would have had a 52″ PDP instead, which is now giving way to LCD’s .
due to the mountainous characteristics of Korea it has long been most homes subscribe to cheap regional cable-TV instead of the free aired one . more so because the former carries almost 80 channels as opposed to the latter 3 or 4 (the dictatorial regime’s legacy don’t give broadcasting rights to just any company, still). similarily current DMB channels carry almost a dozen but thats counting sound-only music stations . difference between satellite DMB and ground DMB is that the former extends to more remote areas, where the latter is shows more fluid-streaming, crisp images .
recently Internet Access Companies attempted to provide all sorts of additional services to get a slice of the TV business bandwagon of which none really stuck : such as one accessing the company’s main hard-drive to view stored movies any time, in addition to the Internet Connection AND Cable-TV, and sometimes even Internet Phone all through one thick cable line .
most homes have an Internet sharing device, wireless in fact whose current models now cover a 4~5 bedroom-space sufficiently, because most family members have their own PC or notebook since say, Junior High ? if the dad or son is savvy enough, they’d have a printer or printer-scanner-fax machine shared via WireLess .
as time pass, more young ones will be geared, more with mobile machines . parents can afford them for most “modern-minded” household only bear one child (not by law like in China) due to liberal attitudes too, but halted by realistic expense of education . the basic schooling is gentle in content and price but it is the extra studies that cram students and plague the efficiency of the whole Korean Education System . to compete in a very populous land-mass .
[ PRICE LIST FOR THE ITEMS ABOVE ] best discounts as of January 2009
- subscription to one of local download sites W18,000 monthly, additional to normal Internet Connection
- Cell Phone free, with monthly conditions, to latest gadget phones for W800,000 plus W40,000 per month in phone charges
- PMP – Portable Movie Player with 80GB W250,000
- mp3 Music Player 8GB W100,000~200,000
- Electronic Dictionary with English, Japanese, Chinese to/from Korean W150,000~350,000
- Domestic Compact Car W10,000,000 (Import Compact W40,000,000)
- Compact Digital Camera with Video ability W400,000
- Navigation with TV AND Traffic Monitoring W400,000
- 42″ LCD TV about W1,200,000
- 52″ PDP TV W2,500,000
- Cable TV subscription 20~80 Channels W7,000~15,000 monthly
- Broadband Internet Connection W30,000 monthy
- Personal Computer or NoteBook W800,000 (cutting-edge for latest Games, or even Weather Forecasting ? twice that + )
- normal printer less than W100,000 and NetWork Printer-FAX-Scanner W300,000
.. and when the day is through, you come home to watch an under-rated classic like Local Hero (1983), yearning for a quiet place AND timelessness when you simply look out into the ocean and enjoy the solemn moment without a single machine at hand .
– Korea Tech Blog, January 2009 –