e-Government in South Korea

e-Government: Strategy and Best Practices

Korea has one of the most comprehensive, mature and high performance e-government programs in Asia, if not in the world.

Korea has one of the most comprehensive, mature and high performance e-government programs in Asia, if not in the world.

Its vision is to be ‘the world’s best digital government for the people’ .

Korea has pursued its e-gov. program relentlessly and with a great deal of consistency for well over a decade and has constantly modified its strategy to accommodate emerging trends in both public sector operations and new technologies (in which it invests heavily).

One of the strengths of the Korean strategy has been its far sightedness and its completeness.

The Korean strategy embraces all aspects of modern e-gov. programs – work method reform (transparency), government service reform (efficiency – through automated government services, e.g. postal service , automated petition and policy making) and information resource management reforms (participatory democracy).

It also embodies and is driven by a typical Asian approach to commercially exploit its e-government knowledge and technologies – one area where, despite their pre-eminence in the field, they have been much less successful, but one which they continue to pursue relentlessly.

Korea’s strategy is almost unique in way it integrates and coordinates responsive, efficient and customer friendly services, governance and policy making across the individual (services available any time anywhere – ubiquitous, individually customized services via the Internet and portable electronic devices), business (corporate competitiveness – both domestic and global) and Society (a secure and pleasant living environment, balanced social growth and extensive interfaces across all relevant services, e.g. u-cities, smart homes, e-health, e-gov. and e-finance, etc).

The level of e-coordination on such a large country is unprecedented. To a large extent this is cultural however, there has been considerable innovation too.

For example, the early establishment of an Informatization Promotion Committee chaired by the Prime Minister coupled with Korean’s heightened sense of national identity has succeeded in inculcating a ‘u-ethos’ across the entire nation – a level of national change management and adoption that most other governments can only aspire to.

By achieving a common strategic purpose early on in the program has galvanized the various stakeholders – academia, business, citizens and government to pursue a consistent, coherent and collaborative effort to create a sustainable and dominant knowledge based economy within the next 20years.

Enter the Chaebol

In this way Korea’s powerful chaebol (often as part of a company’s corporate social responsibility agenda) supported by Government Agencies, e.g. National Information Society Agency (NISA , The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC), The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGHA) have been instrumental in pushing forward the government agenda both domestically and for international consumption.

The ‘chaebol influence’ can also be seen in the development of ‘home-grown’ world class technology solutions and take-up of the latest convergent communications technologies for seamless e-service delivery e.g. Wibro , IPTV, SoIP , RFID and GIS/LBS, etc., and unique automated service solutions, e.g. On-nara ; all of which are seen as the means to enhance the global competitiveness of Korean companies whilst feeding the needs of the e-gov. program which for Korean industry must continue to innovate e-service solutions (particularly in m-government) in its saturated domestic market.

Analysis

Challenges

On of the biggest challenges facing the Korean e-gov. program is to retain the positive technological focus and leadership of the chaebol.

Despite its many achievements and world accolades Korea’s mega-conglomerates aided and assisted by government ministries have found it hard to export their technological developments, skills and e-government solutions.

Faced with a saturate domestic market they must continue to innovate for the local e-government and e-service market and/or achieve much greater success with their overseas ventures.

Failure to do so could mean that these diversified conglomerates move on to greener pastures.

Strengths

Korea’s greatest strength is its ability to rally a nation (individuals, businesses, government agencies and society) to its long term e-gov. aspirations and the holistic strategy that envelopes e-gov.

Weaknesses

The strength of the national identity and culture that has enabled Korea to effect national change on an almost unprecedented scale may ironically be a weakness as the e-program moves into the more advanced and diverse transformation stage.

What appeals to the Korean people and their interpretation off the future of government services, Gov 2.0, e-democracy and a balanced life (centrally controlled u-cities and smart homes) may not appeal to other cultures or governments – making the export of their ideas even more difficult.

Opportunities

Given that Korea can maintain the high standards already achieved and continually showcase to the world new and innovative approaches that work in all facets of life – living (smart homes and e-cities), government services, municipal management, e-democracy, etc., the opportunity remains for Korea to dramatically increase its share of the worldwide IT services market where its is associated with e-government developments – particularly in Central Asia and Africa.

Threats

The main threat to Korea’s e-gov. program could ironically come from outside of Korea. Failure to achieve one of its critical implementation strategies – global leadership, may mean that powerful business innovation and support as the need to showcase achievements of government and Korean industry is abandoned.

Cyber security threats may seek to undermine the confidence the population has in e-gov. services.


See what Expert - Azuddin Jud Ismail, Senior Vice President and Head of KT Management & Research had to say about the evolving u-Society in South Korea.

Digital Melaka - Azuddin Jud Ismail - The Dynamic U-Society in Korea

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