Welcome to AsiaBizTech Web Site

Top Page
Site Map
News at a Glance Member Services AsiaBizTech Resources

Advanced Search

(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 companies.

    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 operations online.

    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 to parliament.

    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)

    Copyright © 1997-98
    Nikkei BP BizTech, Inc.
    All Rights Reserved.
    Updated: Fri Oct 2 16:35:08 1998 PDT