I am glad to meet you all.
The Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Communications Commission will start the first presidential briefings of the New Year where government ministries and agencies present their undertakings. We are gathered here with scientists, engineers, specialists, researchers and developers in attendance to demonstrate our firm belief that the future of the Republic of Korea hinges on the country becoming a science and technology powerhouse, a global leader in artificial intelligence and a nation strong in digital media.
Science and technology has the strength to change the people’s lives. They are not only driving economic growth but also serving as the main sources of help for addressing social issues and enhancing national and corporate competitiveness across the globe. Clustered here in Daedeok Innopolis are research institutions, scientists and businesses that have unrivaled capabilities and passion. This is the place that generates the driving force for science and technology-based economic growth and spearheads tangible changes in the Republic of Korea.
In particular, ETRI, the site of today’s briefings, is a cradle for telecommunications research and development in the Republic of Korea. Now we are poised to make yet another giant leap forward on the foundation of Daedeok Innopolis’s proud history and the dazzling achievements of ETRI that have helped catapult the Republic of Korea into the ranks of an ICT powerhouse.
We have made steady preparations for the future so far, and our potential and capabilities are more than enough. My Administration has fundamentally innovated the national R&D system. The Science, Technology and Innovation Office has been established and a meeting of science and technology-related ministers restored. At the same time, bold steps have been taken to increase investment in research and development. Last year, budget funding earmarked for research and development exceeded 20 trillion won for the first time in history. This year, the amount will rise 18 percent for an investment of 24 trillion won. This doubles the rate of increase for the total budget. Moreover, funding for researcher-centered basic research has been drastically expanded. As a result of such endeavors, Korea has been ranked third globally in terms of the competitiveness of our scientific and technological infrastructure.
Private sector and business efforts combined with support from the Government have produced encouraging accomplishments in the fields of data, networks and artificial intelligence, which comprise key parts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s foundation. Being the first in the world to commercialize 5G technology has helped Korea secure first and second place in 5G smartphone and equipment markets worldwide, respectively. It has also helped lay out a blueprint that will serve as a compass for private sector cooperation as well as national innovation, including a 5G plus strategy and AI national strategy.
The three data-related acts that have been passed at the National Assembly after a long wait will become the legal basis for developing the DNA industry – data, networks and AI. Joining us are several National Assembly members. I am grateful once again to them for passing these three data-related acts.
Now we have to take one more step toward the future. With the power of science and technology as well as telecommunications, we have to secure future income sources and hasten the era of an innovative, inclusive nation. Being a science and technology powerhouse and a global leader in AI will form columns to support that end.
AI has already been closely embedded into our industries and daily lives. The Government has established a national strategy to turn Korea into a global leader in AI to be at the forefront of the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We still cannot be called a front-runner in AI yet, but we have enough potential to emerge as an AI powerhouse going beyond an IT-strong nation. It is the Government’s duty to turn that potential into reality.
With private sector cooperation, we have to establish, by as early as 2022, a nationwide 5G network – infrastructure key to the Republic of Korea’s innovative growth – and promote the creation of new 5G-based innovative industries and services. There are some startups and business ventures that have already achieved significant success in various areas of AI. The Government will lend proactive support so that unicorns can be born in the AI field as well.
After all, the key to being a leading nation in artificial intelligence is people. We need to pay special attention to education and AI-related ethics so that everyone can benefit from AI evenly and safely while doing everything possible to cultivate talented professionals and secure core technologies.
Meanwhile, the internet-based global media market is growing rapidly. The media industry is another growth engine that we possess. Our strengths are having the world’s best network, unique Hallyu-related content and outstanding human resources. If we can fully demonstrate these strengths, we will be able to stand tall as a media powerhouse in the global media market that is seeing seismic changes.
It’s vital to create an environment where the creativity of the private sector can be fully exhibited. I ask you to strive to modernize outdated regulations such as the regulatory imbalance among broadcast media outlets and reverse discrimination between domestic and overseas media companies in order to create an environment where Hallyu content can grow without any hindrance and compete fairly.
An environment conducive to the fair production and trade of broadcast contents is also an important factor for the competitiveness of the media industry. There have been more than a few achievements since my Administration was launched. I ask you to come up with effective pan-government measures that can completely resolve unfair practices in the market for outsourced broadcasting production and establish a fair and mutually beneficial culture in the broadcasting and telecommunications markets.
Public accountability of broadcasting cannot be overemphasized. With the diversification of media and channels, the amount of information available is growing incredibly fast. We need to ensure that the increased information makes the lives of individuals and communities healthier and more prosperous. I urge you to make special efforts to protect the people’s rights and interests from fake news or illegal and harmful information and to narrow the media literacy divide.
I would like to particularly stress the importance of emergency broadcasts about disasters, which directly affect people’s lives. The quality of such broadcasts has improved considerably since last year’s wildfires in Gangwon-do Province. Still, I ask you to refrain from becoming complacent about this and make even more attentive efforts so that broadcasters can fulfill their role of protecting public safety.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize two things in particular. The first one is the people-centered Fourth Industrial Revolution. All of the visions and plans we discuss today are ultimately aimed at improving the people’s lives and the quality of life. Every new challenge entails difficulties. These may include a conflict of interests over regulatory innovation or enormous changes in the job market that we’ve never experienced before. No matter what they are, we have to wade through them with the aim of improving quality of life for the people without marginalizing anyone. I’d like you to gather opportunities so that new technologies and new industries will contribute to giving strength to the lives of the vulnerable in our society and moving us toward an inclusive society by resolving the education gap and improving local issues.
The second one is interaction with those professionals directly involved. The competitiveness of science, technology, telecommunications and the media industry comes from innovation, and the capacity for innovation lies in the fields where those professionals work. Researchers, developers, creators and producers must be able to fully demonstrate their creativity and the innovative spirit to take on challenges. I would like you to carefully listen to the voices of those professionals, join hands with them and seek the kind of innovation in administration that allows those directly affected to be the first to sense the intent behind the Government’s policies.
Science, technology, broadcasting and communications are growth engines that can usher in the future. I am looking forward to the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Communications Commission taking the lead in driving tangible changes for the Republic of Korea.