GK:3.4.3 Issues and Policies in Transportation and Telecommunications
Geography of Korea: III. Production and Consumer Space > 4. Transportation and Telecommunications> 3) Issues and Policies in Transportation and Telecommunications
3) Issues and Policies in Transportation and Telecommunications
It was anticipated that the development of the nation’s transportation and communications would lead to the alleviation of regional disparities by reducing transportation and communication costs and facilitating the relocation of population and enterprises to the provinces. However, in reality such advances only contributed to spatial specialization and served to accelerate concentration in qualitatively advantaged areas, and as a result the concentration of population and economic activity along the key traffic arteries. As far as high-speed rail, the KTX was established with the aim of promoting balanced regional development and the more efficient use of land, but it may also be causing a “straw effect,” with the high-level services of Seoul-oriented absorbing regional demand and in fact weakening the regional service industries.
Though the expansion of information communications is hailed for its potential to increase the efficiency and value-added of the service industry in a knowledge-based economy, it is also true that there are large gaps in the use of such information technologies across income and education levels, as well as a problem of serious inequalities between urban and rural regions, that will need to be addressed. What’s more, the rise in virtual vendors as a result of the rise in e-commerce initiatives is driving a rise in things like courier and logistics firms, even as the toll on small-scale stores and traditional markets is rather striking. The internet has also had a profound effect on the media, with the explosion of news portals leading to a crisis in traditional print news. Further, the forces of market competition among news portals has made information a commodity and commercialized news, leading to a situation where news caters to public opinion and an increase in the proportion of entertainment-based stories, which some of pointed out as detrimental to the public interest.
Information communications has also played a valuable role in transportation, but more importantly, its technological infrastructure has played a critical part in increasing overall industrial efficiency. The country’s transport network is continuously being expanded and upgraded. In terms of roadways, in order to improve the mobility and accessibility of the primary road networks, grid-pattern networks have been expanded and modifications undertaken on high congestion zones; in terms of the rail network, the country’s X-shaped high-speed rail network was constructed to link up with the square-shaped network covering the east-west coastal area to create a consolidated national rail network. For the nation’s ports, efforts have been made at making Busan a hub port for Northeast Asia, with Incheon port as a regional base port. For air transport, rather than dispersing investments across regional airports, efforts were concentrated on expanding the international competitiveness of Incheon International Airport as a central hub for air traffic. Overall, efforts have been made to reduce social and economic costs while promoting sustainable, green growth through the creation of an integrated land, sea, and air transport network. With the internet now ubiquitous, expanded investment in the anticipated network for such a data explosion is direly needed. As such, in order to put in place a giga communication infrastructure, the Giga-KOREA project was implemented. The expansion of smart phone usage has led to the expansion of Korea’s telecommunications infrastructure, but its software competitiveness is low compared to its IT hardware. This combined with the fact that it lacks key core technologies and creative talent, it is seeking to maximize applications from the smart technology revolution as well as its existing IT infrastructure in order to strengthen national competitiveness. Further, in order to enhance the growth drivers of the country’s information-communications-broadcasting ecosystem, in 2013 the government established the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning with responsibility over information communications technology and services, as well as the Presidential Broadcast Communications Commission to pursue broadcasting in the public interest, promote diversity in multi-channel programming, and spearhead efforts at augmenting national competitiveness.