Korea is now a global contender when it comes to internet software and services as well as hardware and semiconductors. Korea has some of the fastest internet connections in the world with a 97 % broadband penetration and has a government that is looking for tech startups to help fund and incubate. They have built many innovation hubs and tech hubs all across Seoul in the last few years.
South Korea ranks very highly on Bloomberg when it comes to research and development capability, productivity, tech density and patent activity. This has not always been the case. Only recently has South Korea been a economic factor. Just a few decades ago they wouldn’t even have been on the radar. Now they are a global leader when it comes to communication and information technology. Add that to South Korea’s already strong manufacturing and exporting of electronics and it is easy to see how Korea has risen so quickly in such a short amount of time.
Koreans in general love their smartphones. 1 out of every 3 teenagers are addicted to their smartphones. Korean’s in general are big consumers of digital media and online gaming. They even host the world’s largest video game tournament called the World Cyber Games. When you turn on a television in Korea you will certainly see at least one channel that is dedicated to online gaming whether it is League of Legends or Starcraft.
Tech has even entered K-Pop as K-Pop music videos are now being streamed by millions all across the globe. There has been a rise in peer to peer online veto networks and platforms as more and more demand for K-Pop needs to be fulfilled.
As more and more Koreans that have studied overseas come to Korea, you will see more and more startups start to emerge. These young entrepreneurs are the new crop of businessmen that don’t want to settle for corporate jobs like their parents did, but rather with a larger goal of conquering not only Korea but the globe. This is the mentally that Korea is now transitioning too, a more global mindset. They want to take on the US Market, the Asian Market, the European market….Startups in accelerators like Sparklabs is all about going global.
There are many more just like Sparklabs, for example there is SoftBank ventures, Strong Ventures, and StoneBridge Capital just to name a few. This is all thanks to a strong push by the Korean government in promoting and supplementing private fund raising and investment in the VC market. Investment in a creative economy saw the Korean government pump billions of dollars into fostering a startup ecosystem that could one day rival Silicon Valley.
South Korea has only tech to compete with the world. They don’t have natural resources like Oil or agriculture. Innovation is the key to the continued growth of Korea’s economy. They can’t just rely on the Chaebols (Family controlled corporations), they need to find new startups and continue to promote entrepreneurship.
South Korea now offers startups operational support through hubs and a broader network and ready access to early stage funding. These Korean tech startup in Korea just need investments and guidance to get exposure outside of Korea. This is why the boom of digital media and service in Korea could lead to Korean startups finally breaking out into the global market and getting the respect they deserve.