Tag: korea

Tech firms not worried about war with North Korea

Global electronics firms are not particularly concerned if Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump declares war on North Korea.

There is some concern among the Tame Apple Press that Apple will not be able to source key parts from South Korea if a war starts. Never mind the huge body count that is expected – just so long as Apple fanboys get their toys.

Trump told Reuters that a major conflict with North Korea is possible in the standoff over its nuclear and missile programmes, though he would prefer a diplomatic resolution. But then he might have changed his mind by the time he popped around the corridor.

South Korea, a US ally and home to major electronics parts makers such as Samsung Electronics, LG Display and SK Hynix, would be particularly vulnerable to any military attack from its northern neighbour.

South Korea supplies more than half of components such as memory chips and flat screens.

However, investors are pouring money into South Korea’s financial market, and companies are flocking to the stock market to raise billions of dollars.

Seoul’s stock market has climbed nine percent so far this year to near record highs, helped by strong earnings by major exporters including Samsung Electronics, which rose three percent to a life-time high on Friday after reporting its highest profit in more than three years.

Earlier this week, Hynix and LG Display, both Apple suppliers, reported record quarterly profits and sounded upbeat for the remainder of the year.

LG said that talk of conflict is speculative, and it did not have any plans to react to the current situation.

Hyundai Motor, the country’s top automaker, said it had detailed contingency plans to ensure business carried on under various situations but couldn’t disclose them.

Any military conflict on the Korean peninsula could have a dramatic effect on the memory chip market in particular, as Samsung’s and Hynix’s main operations are clustered in South Korea.

The pair control half of the flash memory market, and almost two thirds of DRAM chips, widely used in computers, making it almost impossible for customers to find alternative supplies quickly.

As supply of those chips are already tight, any interruptions to their manufacturing operations might cause large customers such as Apple and Lenovo to trigger a contractual term known as an “allocation” to get more of their suppliers’ limited supply, according to industry executives.

The ultimate beneficiaries of supply interruptions in South Korea would likely be Japan’s Toshiba, and US  firms Micron Technology and Western Digital.

Oracle forced to pay back taxes

Multinational tech giant Oracle has been charged $293 million for corporate tax evasion in South Korea.

The $293 million charge is made up of back taxes, as well as a punitive charge from the government tax agency.

Oracle was told of the tax debt in January last year, when the National Tax Service charged Oracle with evasion of corporate tax payments from 2008-2014.

The outfit was accused of funnelling revenues to Ireland to avoid paying taxes in South Korea. In an audit of the company’s books, the tax authority found that Oracle had channelled profits generated in South Korea to an Irish subsidiary.

It was found that those funds profited the company’s headquarters in the United States.

Because of this, the NTS figured out that Oracle should have paid taxes on profits generated in South Korea to the South Korean government.


South Korea wants to abandon coins

coinTo encourage people to move to a cashless society and buy everything electronically, South Korea is to abandon coins.

The authorities see stage one as getting rid of the metal money by 2020. The Bank of Korea on Thursday announced it will step up its efforts to reduce the circulation of coins, the highest denomination of which is worth less than $0.50.

Instead it wants consumers to deposit loose change on to Korea’s ubiquitous “T Money” cards — electronic travel passes that can be used to pay for metro fares, taxi rides and purchases.

South Korea is technically savvy with mobile payments and online shopping pretty much being the norm. It is already one of the world’s least cash-dependent nations and has the highest rates of credit card ownership.  Only 20 percent of Korean payments are made using paper money.

Coins are expensive. Korea spends $40 million annually minting them. Banks spend a fortune collecting, managing and circulating them.

The government also hopes that the shift towards electronic payments will help shrink the informal economy, boost the state’s coffers and boost overall growth.

Globally, Scandinavian countries are leading the charge towards cashless societies. More than half of Sweden’s 1,600 bank branches neither hold cash nor take cash deposits. Norway’s biggest bank, meanwhile, this year also called for a cashless society.

Anti-trust watchdog barks at Android

31BBE0CB00000578-3471385-image-a-12_1456857331758South Korea’s antitrust regulator has opened an investigation into the Google’s agreements with handset manufacturers over the Andriod operating system.

The watchdog is concerned that the US firm’s Android mobile operating system limits market competition.

Jeong Jae-chan, chairman of the Korea Fair Trade Commission, said the agency will re-examine anti-competition issues over Google’s policies on the Android platform. Sadly the did not say much more and probably won’t until the investigation is complete.

The agency has previously said it was looking into whether Google,  whose corporate parent is Alphabet  has violated South Korean anti-competition laws but did not elaborate on what potential charges might be brought against Google or what particular field it was interested in. Now it appears that it might be focused on the Android arrangements.

Koreans investigate Apple antitrust antics

apple-dalek-2The fruity cargo cult Apple is seeing its star descend rapidly in the Far East as the South Koreans open an antitrust investigation into its doings.

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has confirmed it is investigating “some matters” relating to tech giant Apple.

The head of the anti-competition body Jeong Jae-chan told during a parliamentary hearing that he was currently investigating Jobs’ Mob without going into any other details.

Jeong declined to comment on the specifics of the regulator’s investigation when asked to do so by a South Korean lawmaker.

Domestic media reports said earlier this month the FTC was reviewing details of the U.S. firm’s contracts with South Korean mobile telecoms carriers, so it might have something to do with Apple’s deal with one of them.

Apple’s deals with carriers were the mainstay behind its success in the US and worldwide. Lately, telcos have been less keen on subsidised phone packages as a way of helping line sales.


Qualcomm plunges money into restaurants

Mangoes - Wikimedia CommonsEvery large multinational tech company has a VC arm, and Qualcomm is no exception to that rule.  The money companies invest is partly as a hedge to hide behind, partly a PR exercise to show a firm has  heard the 21st century mantra, “innovation” and sometimes it’s even related to technology a firm wants to push.

Qualcomm, like many other tech multinationals is seeking to diversify. And as part of this strategy, the firm has apparently put over $6 million into a Korean firm called MangoPlate.

MangoPlate is a service that helps you find restaurants.

According to the Korea Times, Qualcomm wants to help grow the Korean market and it believes that “food technology” has great potential for growth.

A director at Qualcomm VC told the newspaper that it believed MangoPlate “will become a new icon” in Korea.

MangoPlate slices and dices data from reviews and social networks to provide potential diners with a place they’d like to go. The Qualcomm Ventures web site shows dozens of firms it’s put money into.

More well known companies it’s invested in in the past include Paypal.

South Korea gives up on Microsoft

South Korea is using the fact that Windows XP is no longer supported as a reason to walk away from Microsoft completely.

According to a government statement, South Korea wants to break from its Microsoft dependency and move to open source software by 2020″

In a statement the government said that it will invigorate open source software in order to solve the problem of dependency on certain software. The government has invested in Windows 7 to replace XP, but it does not want to go through the same process in 2020 when the support of the Windows 7 service is terminated.

Korea has a long way to go. So far it has not even bought in the standard e-document format which is widely seen as stage one.

However it seems that the government hopes to lean on the creation of a “local open source alternative” which basically means designing its own Linux fork.

Under the plan support will be provided so that it will be possible to freely connect to the Internet with all operating systems and browsers by 2017.

Starting next year the pilot open sources OS project will be carried out for 10 public and private institutions, and the expenses related to employee education and systems will be supported.

By 2018, the government is planning to review whether the introduction of open source software for PCs reduced expenses and institutionalise the result so that the open OS-related private project can be further expanded. 

Korean MoD clamps down on smartphones

The Korean Ministry of National Defence announced Wednesday that it will restrict the use of smartphones inside its buildings from mid-July, reports the Korea Times.

The ministry is concerned that phones could be used to leak sensitive information and visitors will no longer be allowed to bring phones into ministry buildings.

In addition, the ministry has come up with a cunning plan to render snoopy smartphones harmless. It has an app that deactivates some functions like computing, internet connectivity and the camera while inside ministry buildings. For feature phones, the solution is anything but high tech – it involves placing a sticker on the camera lens. 

Not all phones are considered equal under the ministry’s plans. Users of Android phones will be able to answer and make phone calls, but iPhone users will be limited to receiving calls. It appears that Apple fans aren’t as trustworthy as Android users in the land of Samsung

Since the measures aren’t expected to go down well with employees, the ministry will let them make long-distance calls and calls to mobile phones using office telephones. 

Five year Korean hacking campaign unveiled

Symantec has uncovered digital evidence that links cyber-attacks on South Korea dating back four years to a hacking group dubbed the “Dark Seoul Gang”.

Eric Chien, technical director with Symantec Security Response, found the connection while looking under the bonnet of malicious software code used to launch attacks that disrupted some South Korean government websites earlier in the week.

While Symantec could not place the identity of the gang members, researchers found chunks of code that were identical to code in malicious programs used in four previous significant attacks, the first of which happened on July 4, 2009, according to Chien.

South Korean has blamed the North for some of the attacks. Pyongyang denies responsibility and has said it has also been a victim. Symantec said that regardless of whether the gang is working on behalf of North Korea or not, the attacks are both politically motivated and have the necessary financial support to continue acts of cybersabotage on organisations in South Korea.

Chien said that it is clear they are one gang, but are extremely well coordinated.

He thinks that the group has between 10 and 50 members, based on the sophistication of the code and the complexity of their attacks.

These included a 4 July, 2009, attack which wiped data on PCs and also launched distributed denial of service attacks that disrupted websites in South Korea as well as the United States.

In March of this year, the gang knocked tens of thousands of PCs offline at South Korean companies by destroying data on their hard drives, Chien said.

This was one of the most destructive cyber attacks on private computer networks to date.

The most recent attack, Tuesday, the anniversary of the start of the Korean War in 1950, brought down the main websites of South Korea’s presidential office and some local newspapers. 

Chip sales continue to be weak

Apple and the PC market were slow in the second quarter, according to research published by Carnegie Research.

April has shown some changes from the traditional seasonal chip pattern, while sales of Apple handsets aren’t likely to show many gains either.

According to the research, Taiwanese exports in April also showed a slowdown. However, Korea showed some growth in April while Vietnamese handsets were boosted in May. Carnegie thinks that Korean company Samsung will produce 240 million handsets during 2013 – that’s 40 percent of the giant’s production.

In the USA, retail sales were weak in April and PC imports weakened.in March. There’s a slowdown in handset retail sales in mainland China, partly caused by price pressure. However, Chinese handset exports grew.