digital nation - life on the virtual frontier

The Most Wired Place on Earth

Our correspondent Douglas Rushkoff travels to South Korea to take the measure of its digital revolution, and understand its impact on ordinary people.

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photo of a keyboard

Population: 48.4 million(July 2008 est.)

Median age: 36.7 years

GDP (PPP): $1.312 trillion (2008 est.), 14th largest in the world

Korean gaming industry (including game centers): $7.8 billion (2006)

Internet usage rate: 76.5 percent (2008)

Percentage of Internet users age 3 to 5: 2.3 percent (2008)

Wireless Internet usage rate (ages 12 to 59): 52.5 percent (2008)

Household broadband penetration:: 97 percent (2008)

Landlines: 23.02 million (2008)

Cell phones: 44.98 million (2008)

Other facts:

  • The Korean government began investing in a nationwide broadband network in 1994
  • South Korea has over 20,000 Internet cafes called "PC Bangs"
  • 43 percent of Koreans maintain a blog
  • 20 million people belong to Cyworld, an online "parallel universe"/social networking site
  • In early 2009 the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) announced a plan to invest $837 million -- in addition to $21.1 billion in private funds -- to provide 1-Gbps average broadband speeds to major cities by 2012 (meaning a 120-minute feature film will take 12 seconds to download). The average U.S. broadband speed is 4.8 Mbps -- 200 times slower.


posted February 2, 2010

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