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  • Korean Gov't, Companies Start Resolving Y2K Problems
  • March 27, 1998 (SEOUL) -- With the approach of the year 2000, Korean government agencies and private companies are realizing that a disaster could strike and they are scrambling to resolve their Y2K problems so as to circumvent such problems.
    Most vendors selling Year 2000 applications in Korea are not yet reporting windfall profits, but growing awareness of the problem is expected to boost their business this year and next.

    Software experts say that time is running out to fix the so-called millennium bug, and they warn that serious problems could hamper business operations, administrative networks and personal finances if the problems are not fully corrected.

    "If one thing goes awry, the entire system will break down in a massive chain reaction," said Lee Jong-hun, who is leading the Y2K project at Samsung SDS Corp., an system integration unit of the Samsung Group.

    The problem looks deceptively simple but outcomes could be grave. The change of calendar year from 1999 to 2000 may skew the accuracy of data created by computer applications from word processors to data bases and could affect calculations, comparisons and data sorting in computer systems that use two digits to represent the year.

    Many computer operating systems and applications use a standard two-digit year field-- MM/DD/YY. When the year 1999 rolls over to 2000, these systems will express the first day of the new year as 01/01/00, and assume the "00" means 1900.

    In Korea, the millennium bug had not been taken seriously until recently. Financial institutions are already feeling the impact when they sell long-term products.

    "Large entities such as banks and airline companies are adopting new information systems based on updated computer software," said Yoo Young-hwan, an official at the Ministry of Information and Technology.

    Some 36 of Korea's 45 government agencies are operating task forces to solve the Y2K problem in their systems. And 87 percent of public officials are aware of the seriousness of the problem, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Computerization Agency.

    Most of the solutions available in Korea are offered by local vendors under license from foreign companies. IBM Korea Co. is marketing TRASNFORMATION 2000 supplied by International Business Machines Corp. Korea Electric Power Corp. and some local life insurers have purchased the package.

    Unisys Korea Ltd. is focusing on small and medium-size firms in collaboration with Motorola Korea Ltd., to provide consulting and Y2K conversion services.

    Songwoo Information Systems Co. is offering SoftFactory/2000 designed by Micro Focus of the United Kingdom. Kabu System Co. is distributing PORTAL 2000 licensed by PRINCE Software Inc. of the United States.

    Computer Associates Korea is marketing Discovery 2000, which was developed by Computer Associates International Inc., and United Software Inc. is selling Enterprise 2000 from Viasoft Inc.

    Shin Jong-chul, president of Songwoo Information Systems, said the timely implementation of Y2K solutions is necessary to save costs in the long run. "The sooner, the better. Companies can still resolve their problems if they begin setting up solutions now," he said.

    Samsung SDS is one of the few Korean companies offering products developed in-house. The company recently started deploying its UniSAVER/2000 application through Samsung subsidiaries before marketing to outside customers.

    LG-EDS Systems Inc., a unit of LG Group, also is commercializing its own Y2K package. That package was tested on the group's vast business operation

    (James Lim, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Thu Mar 26 17:43:07 1998