Tag: South Korea

Samsung posts big profit

SamsungSouth Korean giant Samsung said that it has turned in an operating profit of $6.5 billion, with revenues rising 8.9 percent compared to the same period last year.

And it posted a profit in its mobile division, attributing the growth to sales of its Galaxy Note 5. It said it would turn in similar profits in its fourth financial quarter.

The company attributed its profitability mainly to sales of components.

Like other smartphone vendors, it doesn’t expect business to be quite as buoyant next year – largely due to competition at the low end from Chinese manufacturers and saturation in the developed market.

As a result of its profitability, Samsung will buy back close to $10 billion worth of shares and give shareholders a third to a half of free cash flow through dividends.

Koreans call for Google to be shut down

South Korean view - Wikimedia CommonsGoogle Korea is facing suspension after a number of activists said it should be suspended from doing business in the country because it’s alleged it has violated the Telecommunications Business Law.

The Korea Times said that the local Google office described itself as a value added common carrier when it registered as a business, but claimed that services like search and advertising are made by Google in the USA.

Google claims that the Korean government has no jurisdiction over the country and any legal claims must be filed in California.

The activists describe this situation as unfair and against common standards of decency, and that the Korean government does have jurisdiction over what happens locally.

Google has used similar arguments in Europe in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid litigation.

When asked specific questions about data about Korean citizens being passed on to third parties, Google Korea claimed that it wasn’t a value added common carrier, leading to charges that it has broken the law in the country.

South Korea and EU hammer out 5G deal

South Korea and the European Union will work together to develop 5G wireless network technologies and to will come up with a global consensus on standards.

The two sides have apparently agreed on the need for a harmonised radio spectrum policy for ensuring global interoperability of 5G networks, as well as global technical standards,

They will also collaborate with the Third Generation Partnership Project, a group of telecommunications standards organisations, and with the International Telecommunication Union, which sets global policies for spectrum use.

By forming a joint research and development group, the EU and South Korea plan to cooperate on developing ICT services for the cloud and the Internet of Things, among other areas.

The move is to make sure that there is a globally agreed definition and standard for 5G networks in the future.

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, was in Seoul on Monday to sign the agreement.

Kroes said that the move would speed up and make sure that the EU wins the global race to create 5G.

Earlier this year, she set 2020 as the goal to roll out 5G networks across Europe.

Under the new agreement, the EU and South Korea aim to launch jointly funded research projects in 2016 or 2017.

South Korea wants core 5G wireless technologies ready in time for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and introduce the world’s first 5G network services by 2020.

This puts Samsung into the spotlight. It has successfully tested technologies it considers key to 5G last year. South Korea’s major carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus are racing to become the first 5G network provider. 

China overtakes US in semicon manufacturing

China has managed to overtake the US in semiconductor manufacturing and according to SEMI’s latest report, the trend is more than likely to accelerate, reports Quartz

Last year China gobbled up $5.07 billion worth of silicon ingots and other materials used for semicon manufacturing, up 42 per cent over 2008. In contrast, North America consumed $4.74 billion, down from $4.99 billion in 2008.

The American slump is nothing compared to Japan, which is going through a production crash. Semicon material spending dropped from $10 billion in 2008 to $8.35 billion last year. 

Taiwan and South Korea are still doing well and if Japan doesn’t get its act together, South Korea will squeeze into second place in a matter of years, provided it is not attacked by the atomic threat across the border. 

Taiwan still reigns supreme, its spending is well north of $10 billion and growing.

South Korea cyber attack traced back to China

South Korean investigators have traced back Wednesday’s cyber attack that crippled the country’s banking system to Chinese servers. Although Chinese IP addresses were used in the attack, North Korea remains the prime suspect.

IP addresses can be manipulated and there is a chance that the attackers were merely hiding behind Chinese servers. South Korea has accused the North of launching massive cyber attacks in the past, and the general consensus among observers is that it is behind the latest attack. The attack disabled close to 32,000 computers used by three banks and three media outlets. Regulators believe the attack originated from a single organisation.

The attack came amid high tensions in the Korean peninsula and it represents an escalation of North Korean rhetoric. A few weeks ago North Korea carried out its third nuclear test and it made numerous threats against South Korea and US interests in the region. On Wednesday North Korea said it would attack US bases in Okinawa and Guam if provoked, reports Reuters. Since it doesn’t not take much to provoke Kim Jong-un, the US better watch its step in the Pacific.

North Korea also used the opportunity to tell the world that it now has drones of its own. The state news agency reported that its glorious armed forces carried out a mock drone attack on the South, staged for Kim Jong-un’s viewing pleasure. The drones went on to complete the mission and deliver a super-precision attack on enemy targets. On the same day, a missile defence unit successfully shot down a target that mimicked a Tomahawk cruise missile.

Needless to say, the reports cannot be independently confirmed, but our guess is that Pentagon analysts find them quite amusing. 

South Korean banks report massive cyber attack

Computer networks at several South Korean banks and TV broadcasters crashed simultaneously early Wednesday. The attack paralysed ATMs across the country starting at 0520 GMT and they were still down six hours later.

South Korean officials sprang into action and set up a cyber crisis team, but it seems the large scale attack simply overwhelmed the infrastructure. Targets included Shinhan Bank, Nonghyup Bank, Munhwa Broadcasting Corp., YTN and Korea Broadcasting System.

Although nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack and South Korean officials are still not pointing fingers, most observers believe the attack was initiated by North Korea because, well, it’s North Korea.

The malware used in the attack apparently wrecked computers, destroying their ability to reboot. Some operators reported seeing skulls on the screens before their imperialist machines went struck down by the righteous malware of reunification. Tech support clearly had a bad day, but some services were restored a few hours later

The attack is described as the biggest cyber onslaught against South Korea in more than two years. The fact that simultaneous, coordinated attacks were carried out points to an attacker with plenty of resources, such as a state sponsored group. North Korea is widely believed to have a rather capable cyber warfare unit created to hack US and South Korean networks.

The level of sophistication used in the attacks tends to be surprising, given the state of North Korea’s economy and infrastructure. It is one thing to recruit hackers in the US, Europe or Japan, but finding suitable candidates in a country with virtually no internet and frequent power outages can’t be easy.

However, it might be worth the effort. South Korea operates some of the fastest broadband networks on the planet and the economy is heavily dependent on broadband access. This also poses a massive security risk, as many facilities can be targeted by cyber attacks. A more serious attack could potentially wreak havoc on South Korea’s 21st century infrastructure.

The South Korean military has also raised its cyber attacks readiness alert level, but it doesn’t appear to have been targeted. The market didn’t like the attack one bit and South Korean stocks tumbled, with the Kospi Index losing 1 percent. The won slid 0.5 percent.

In contrast, North Korea is practically Kim Jong-unhackable. Not because it has the best cyber security programme on the planet, or the wisest and greatest supreme leader, but because it has almost no internet infrastructure at all. Launching a cyber attack against North Korea would basically be like targeting an Amish community with an electromagnetic pulse weapon. 

Is Samsung’s Galaxy S4 to blame for North Korean sabre rattling?

As the tech press gears up to shower Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 with praise, North Korea is threatening to shower the South with a deadly blanket of ancient Soviet artillery and maybe even a pinch of uranium fuelled instant sunshine.  On the face of it, North Korean sabre rattling has absolutely nothing to do with a smartphone launch, or does it?

Samsung is a source of national pride in South Korea, and it should be. It is not just a successful company, it is much more. It is one of the world’s biggest conglomerates, with annual revenue in excess of $220 billion and a whopping 344,000 employees – more than Apple, Intel, Microsoft and Google combined. Samsung doesn’t just build phones and dishwashers, it builds warships, fighter jets, choppers, self-propelled howitzers and subsystems for a range of other weapons platforms. Samsung is huge and what we see in the tech world is just the tip of the iceberg. It is a source of inspiration for South Korean entrepreneurs and the nation in general.

So what does all this have to do with a nuclear armed Eric Cartman lookalike on the other side of the 38th parallel? Well, Kim Jong-un doesn’t really like Samsung, or Psy, or anything to do with the South. He’s an HTC fanboy. Obviously, a North Korean leader would not be caught dead with a Samsung phone, and our sources in the North Korean Ministry of Truth claim Lil’ Kim has already placed a pre-order for the new HTC One.  

The Galaxy S4 launch is scheduled for March 14, so let’s see what Kim’s been up to lately. Back in December, he launched a satellite, which was basically a test of a long range ballistic missile. In January, North Korea said it would carry out a new nuclear test. On February 12, an underground nuclear test was indeed carried out, prompting condemnation from all corners of the world.

The UN Security Council imposed new sanctions and even China, the North’s only ally, seemed fed up with Kim Jong-un’s childish antics. North Korea responded with a bizarre propaganda video and threatened the US with a pre-emptive nuclear strike earlier this month. On March 8, the DPRK abandoned the joint declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Then it refused to answer its hotline with South Korea and on March 11 it declared the 1953 armistice agreement invalid. Technically, North Korea is at war with the South, and now even the armistice has gone out the window.

The escalation eerily coincides with the S4 launch and a number of leaks. Poor Kim Jong-un. He thinks his new HTC One might be a lemon come March 15, so he is acting up like a spoiled chubby brat. Which he is.

We decided not to cover the recent flood of Galaxy S4 leaks, since we really saw no point in wasting our time (and your time) on any of them. We know about as much about the S4 as we do about the North Korean nuclear program, maybe even less. We aim to inform and entertain, and if we can’t inform at least we’ll try to entertain you. There is nothing informative or entertaining about fake phone specs and poorly photoshopped “insider pics”. Blaming the S4 launch for North Korea’s loony rhetoric is just as outlandish as some of the leaks served up by tech sites as clickbait.

On the other hand, if that nut really does start a war on Thursday, at least we’ll know why. We could never get the hang of Thursdays anyway.

South Korea lines up cyber security measures against the North

South Korea has announced that it will be tightening its cyber security policies in a bid to protect itself from cyberattacks from the North.

However, experts have said the new measures will only be good for lining the pockets of security companies.

According to the Korea Joongang Daily, South Korea is planning to develop a variety of offensive and defensive cyberwarfare weapon, as well as reinforce manpower at the military cyber command, following fears of threats of cyberattacks from North Korea.

A defence plan, which has been presented to President Lee Myung-bak, urges the military to secure intelligence assets and double the number of service personnel at the Cyber Command to 1,000 after increased fears that an attack is imminent.  

The two sides have been locked in disputes for many years and are claimed to be technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

However, over the years the cyber threats have become stronger. Earlier this month Seoul accused Pyongyang of interfering with GPS jamming signals on civilian flights and commercial ships operating near the nation’s western border. It also pointed the finger claiming it had hacked government websites and banking systems.

Experts, however, have said these claims are more “paranoia” rather than a threat.

One told TechEye: “This level of paranoia is great for security companies but not so good for the governments at war with each other. While it’s no secret that South and North Korea don’t get along, accusations of interfering with GPS jamming signals on civilian flights and commercial ships is moving into tin hat territory.

“I can accept the website hacking as this is common for warring Asian countries, but the GPS claims are a little bit extreme.

“The fact that South Korea is now claiming it will develop a variety of offensive and defensive cyberwarfare weapons and reinforce manpower at the military cyber command is nothing new as many countries are doing this, but the question is, will they be spending money on nothing?

“After all, the only real way to secure these operations is to hire underground hackers who will have also been employed in the North instead of throwing money at security companies who can’t offer the true protection they need”. 

Samsung splashes cash on R&D

Not only is Samsung in talks with the government to build a next generation NAND flash manufacturing unit, but it’s also ploughing $682 million (770.7 billion won) into 4,539 of its business partnership enterprises with its 11 affiliates this year to help them boost their competitiveness.

It has said most of this cash will go into research and development.

Samsung and head honchos from its 11 affiliates including Samsung Electronics, Samsung SDS, Samsung Techwin and Samsung Mobile Display, sat down with the Fair Trade Commission earlier this week and signed an agreement for “fair trade and mutual growth” at its headquarters in Seocho-dong.

It’s also promised that it will work hard to eradicate corrupt business practices including bribery and fraud – things that the company has had its fair share of in the past. Most recently it was fined a record amount for obstructing government officials during a fraud investigation.

However, it may be working hard to clear its name and sweeten up the Chinese government following an announcement that it wants to build its NAND factory in Xi’an, the capital of China’s Shaanxi Province. It has said that it now plans to have discussions with government officials and will sign a memorandum of understanding for the project.

If it gets the green light the factory will be the second overseas semiconductor plant for the company and building work will commence.

Samsung plans to double smartphone sales

Samsung Electronics’ mobile boss wants to double its smartphone sales in 2012 from last year, stepping up its battle with arch rival Apple.

Speaking ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, JK Shin, president and head of Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business said that it will put another nail in the coffin of Apple’s iPhone plans.

Samsung topped global smartphone sales rankings last year, more than quadrupling smartphone sales to 97.4 million from 2010. Apple finished a close second, with sales of 93 million smartphones.

But it seems like things are going to get worse for Apple. Shin also said Samsung aimed to boost its total handset sales to 380 million this year, which would mark 16 percent sales growth for the handset maker. With those sorts of figures, it looks like Samsung is aiming to steamroller Apple out of the market.

Samsung sold 327.4 million handsets altogether in 2011, up from 280.2 million in 2010.

We don’t think that, given the fact that Apple is spending all its time trying to shut down Samsung in the courts, that there is much love lost between them.