(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)
| Online Commerce Catches On in Korea
October 5, 1998 (SEOUL) -- Manufacturers and traders in Korea are beginning
to exploit electronic commerce opportunities.
|"The amount of world trade taking place on the Internet doubles every
three months, and Korean companies are only beginning to realize it,"
said Shim Eun-sub, president of Korean Source, one of the Korean companies
offering electronic marketplaces. There are now several hundred such
The company is hosting what it calls the first Internet trade exposition
on its web
siteh for a two-month period that started in early September. An
estimated 500,000 international buyers will visit its "cyber trade fair"
to look through electronic catalogs and find business partners among
hundreds of listings, according to company officials.
The government-funded Korea Investment Trade Promotion Agency operates
its own trade network on its official
Web site, trying to match up some 6,400 companies with potential
buyers worldwide. The agency said that so far exports worth US$100 million
have taken place electronically on its Web site, which features multimedia
descriptions of many Korean products.
The Korea International Trade Association, a private trade organization,
also provides a digital marketplace at its two Korea Trade Network Web
sites (http://www.ecplaza.net, http://www.eckorea.net). The EC Plaza
has an electronic library providing the latest information on general
business and electronic commerce, financial and commodity market news,
and how-to-trade information in addition to product and company lists.
Electronic commerce was virtually nonexistent in Korea only a year ago,
but today it is a booming industry. During his recent visit to Korea,
Louis Gerstner, chairman of IBM Corp., said that electronic commerce
will grow to a US$5 billion market in Korea by 2001 from an estimated
US$240 million this year.
A growing number of large companies are also joining the rush to what
they see as Internet gold mines. Large retailers are setting up online
shopping malls. Lotte Department Store is already registering monthly
sales of about 150 million won (US$108,000) from its Internet store.
Cheiljedang Corp., a large food and entertainment concern, has opened
a cyber trading company (http://www.dreammart.com) specializing in foodstuffs
and food additives.
There is also a movement among large companies to create a national platform
for electronic commerce. Leading electronics and systems integration
companies recently launched an industry-wide project called "ELECTROPIA"
aimed at creating "virtual enterprises" that will conduct all business
The government is finally waking up to the potential of online trade
and commerce. A bill to set many essential guidelines of electronic
commerce, covering digital signatures and authentifications, online
tariffs and taxation, and intellectual property rights, is on its way
However, analysts said Korea is at least two years behind the United
States in the use of electronic commerce, with the government still
too slow to respond to the digital revolution. "The Internet is a highly
contemporary medium, but the gap between Korea and the United States
is a couple of years and widening because of institutional barriers,"
said Park Young-soo, head of the corporate telecommunications division
of Dacom Corp.
(James Lim, Asia BizTech Correspondent)