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Category: IT Korea (page 2 of 17)

And then there’s Samsung…

CNN tech guy Philip Elmer-DeWitt believes he may have “touched a nerve at Samsung HQ“:

On Saturday, following Samsung Taiwan’s admission that it had paid anonymous posters to trash a competitor’s products on Taiwanese social media sites, I posted a story about the growing suspicion among Apple (AAPL) investors that Samsung was engaged in a similar campaign against Apple — and that it might be affecting the company’s share price.

The post drew more that the usual number of comments. Twenty six hours later, we’re up to 343 messages and counting. Some readers supported the thesis. Some ridiculed it. Some attacked Apple. Some attacked me.

That kind of thing comes with the territory, although not usually in such numbers or with such vehemence. But what happened at about 2 a.m. EST — Sunday afternoon in Seoul, South Korea — was new.

In the space of a few hours, more than a thousand votes were cast on the DISQUS feedback system, voting down any comment remotely anti-Samsung and voting up anything — no matter how inane, in-artful or wrong — that disparaged Apple, the thesis, or me.

Sounds more like the work of Samsung fanboys or patriotic netizens than Samsung itself, but I suppose anything is possible.

Personally, I think Seoul Village might have it right:

Samsung Trolling HTC Phone Reviews?

Samsung has reportedly been hiring student trolls to bad mouth HTC cellphones in Taiwan, on web reviews. (cite).

According to Samsung, based in South Korea, the “unfortunate incident” had gone against the company’s “fundamental principles”.

I didn’t know they actually had invested in RD for principles either.

Anonymous hack of N. Korea sites entertains conservative press

The Anonymous hack of Uriminzokkiri and North Korea’s social media sites has got conservative South Korean papers like the Chosun Ilbo giddy.

In particular, the quite like how the list of Uriminzokkiri’s 9,001 members got leaked. On it are apparently a large number of South Koreans, and South Korea’s diligent netizens have been busy trying to figure out who they are. They claim to have found members of the United Progressive Party, an official from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, a university professor, a teacher with the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union, a reporter, a former university students association president, and an airline pilot.

Police caution that people could have registered under false names, so just because they’re on the list doesn’t mean it’s actually them.

A prosecutor told the Chosun Ilbo that while they did conduct an investigation on about 70 people connected to a locally opened pro-North Korean cyber cafe in 2010, they’ve never seen a list as big as this one.

In principle, joining Uriminzokkiri in South Korea is illegal (the site is, in fact, blocked), so if you’re on the list, you can be punished. Practically speaking, however, The Man is unlikely to punish you if you can demonstrate you needed to join it for work reasons. If you can’t—and especially if you posted stuff to the site or reposted its material—you’re likely to face punishment.

Some progressive figures, meanwhile, are calling the release of the list a violation of communication and privacy laws. Which, to be frank, it most certainly is.

UPDATE: See the Anonymous statement at the end of this article.

South Korea Needs A Cyber Overhaul

Though there is talk as in the editorials of one newspaper about cybersecurity:

Cybersecurity is a totally new security concept without public and private sector divides, not to mention a critical absence of national borders. The government also must devise a detailed . . . blah, blah, blah

and the Financial Supervisory Service started a special probe the other day into banks and financial institutions to “find out what caused last week’s network paralysis”, one salient and interesting fact remains – especially on the heels of the attack on banks and various institutions in South Korea – that, as of the last quarter of 2012, South Korea led the ranking of countries most infected by malware (57.30 percent of infected PCs).

Maybe it is time for a sea-change in South Korea, regarding how badly personal computers are kept.  Attacks like the massive on-going one that has occurred recently against spamhaus could only happen because the average users of computers do not know about security though everyone has a lock on their door.  South Korea could at least teach people better safety habits and promote better software that is not so obviously compromised since it is the average user’s infected computer that becomes an unwitting tool at the hacker’s fingertips.

Malware in 3.20 Attack came from China, might be North Korea

The government revealed today that the malware used in yesterday’s cyberattack came from an IP address in China. Given that North Koreans hackers usually use the Chinese Internet, this means it’s possible that the attack was orchestrated by North Korea.

They haven’t ID’d the attack yet, though, so they are leaving all possibilities open. Experts talking to MoneyToday say the malware code is similar to ones North Korea has used in the past. It’ll likely take several months to find the culprits, though.

Oh, and it will take four to five days for the affected companies to get their systems back to normal.

BREAKING NEWS: Massive cyberattack underway in South Korea?

The servers of major broadcasters such as KBS, MBC and YTN as well as Shinhan and Nonghyup banks are reportedly down.

Cheong Wa Dae is trying to figure out what’s up, but the broadcasters have already told police they think it’s North Korea screwing with them. Police cyber terrorism personnel have been rushed to the broadcasters to investigate.

UPDATE: ZDNet Korea has got more. They think it’s a DDoS attack launched by malware believed to be North Korean in origin. The malware was discovered a year ago, but it’s really spread recently, particular through websites visited by military folk. MARMOT’S NOTE: Protect yourself from North Korean aggression. Install Linux.

UPDATE: Boy, this is bad. And LG U Plus wants you to know that contrary to some media reports, they are not the problem. And indeed, MBC uses KT servers.

And as AFC notes:

UPDATE: KCC is saying that it isn’t a DDoS attack, but a malware thing done through hacking. No comment on whether North Korea did it. And oh yeah, public institutions are fine.

UPDATE: Before we jump to conclusions:

UPDATE: Just to repeat what I said on Twitter:

UPDATE: The government is now saying the malware—spread through a Patch Management System—destroyed PCs’ Master Boot Record (MBR). The networks are actually OK, but those affected can’t boot their computers. They also say this attack happened only in Korea.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Thread

The Galaxy S 4 has been officially announced.

TechCrunch likes it:

As if it could be any other way, the just-announced Samsung Galaxy S 4 is Samsung’s, and perhaps even Android’s, best phone yet. In fact, it very well may be the best smartphone on the market, period.

And take this, Fruitboys!

Samsung is riding high on the success of the Galaxy S III and from what I’ve seen, the Galaxy S 4 is a worthy successor with innovative features packed into a familiar housing. It’s a bit of a shame that Samsung announced the phone without giving a price or release date, but at this point, with Samsung the global sales and innovation leader in smartphones, it can do pretty much whatever it wants.

Koreans? Innovative? It can’t be!

Well, that’s a bit disconcerting

I love my Galaxy Note, but I really hope it doesn’t blow up in my pants:

Another Galaxy smartphone has exploded and injured its owner. Bupyeong Fire Station in Incheon on Sunday said a 55-year-old man reported the previous day that his smartphone battery blew up in the pocket of his pants.

The man said he was carrying a Samsung Galaxy Note along with a spare battery in his pocket before they suddenly blew up. He is being treated for second-degree burns to his right thigh.

Can Samsung be cooler than Apple?

That’s what the Korea Times wants to know:

Samsung Electronics is the global leader in mobile phones, televisions and computer memory chips.

However, what the Korean company really wants is to be admired, and by successfully injecting creative input into its smart products in recent years, it finally seems to be earning its stripes as an innovator.

The main source of inspiration in the technology industry in recent years has been Apple, the maker of the revolutionary iPhones and iPads and Samsung’s bitter industry rival.

Look, I know I come off as a Samsung fanboy sometimes, but I’m perfectly willing to concede that Apple is the gold standard of cool. I direct you once again to Milo Yiannopoulos:

Not to be rude, but when was the last time you saw a smouldering hottie merrily chatting away into an Android phone? That’s right, you never have. Because giving in to Android is just another way of advertising that you care more about PHP than people.

Hot people do not use Android. If they’re time-rich, cash-poor hipster cuties, they’ll be sporting that ubiquitous symbol of cool, the iPhone. It’s those apps, man. I don’t understand how some people make it past an artisanal card shop without Instagramming it for the boys back at the agency.
But they’re also utterly aesthetically insensitive, apparently not realising that every Android device ever made is hideously, hideously, hideously fugly. I mean, seriously: what is wrong with these handset manufacturers? It’s like their design brief was: “create a carbuncle”.

That’s what Samsung is up against. Personally, I like how the newer Samsung models look. At any rate, I don’t think they look like carbuncles. And if you’re tech-oriented and like kick-ass displays (like me), you’re going to like Samsung. But even I have to admit they’re nowhere near the user experience my iMac or iPad are. Is this because TouchWiz still leaves a lot to be desired? I don’t know.

LG pushes Apple into 3rd place in US market / Samsung finally recognized for innovation

So, I take it that iPhone 5 isn’t doing so hot:

LG Electronics has pushed Apple into third place in the North American mobile phone market.

LG rose to second place with a 13 percent share in December, overtaking Apple, which had 12 percent, according to Hong Kong market researcher Counterpoint Research.

LG was in second place in North America until the third quarter of 2011, when it ceded the position to Apple after the release of the iPhone 4S.

And to piss a bit more in Apple’s Wheaties, the Boston Consulting Group has named Samsung the world’s third most innovative company behind Apple and Google. And that’s not good for Apple—said Haydn Shaughnessy at Forbes:

Samsung is an innovator and has risen up the BCG rankings by 8 places. Behind the scenes Samsung invests heavily in its engineers’ innovation capabilities. While we’ve all been watching the court case, Samsung has gone from strength to strength. And is now neck and neck with Apple on revenues. 2013 could be the year we look to Korea for who is defining the future of tech.

I stand by what I said earlier—Seoul is the place where the future will happen.

One of the links in that piece is to a Salon story on how Samsung became the world’s biggest tech company—the part about the Note is instructive:

Consider the phablet. Back in 2011, when Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy Note—a 5.3-inch smartphone that was big enough to be a minitablet, hence the ugly portmanteau—the world’s tech pundits couldn’t stifle their giggles. Was it a phone? Was it a tablet? Was it a joke? Smartphone industry blog Boy Genius Report called the Note “the most useless phone I’ve ever used,” adding: “You will look stupid talking on it, people will laugh at you, and you’ll be unhappy if you buy it.” Gizmodo argued that the Note “isn’t just designed poorly—it’s hardly even designed for humans.” I couldn’t resist joining the chorus. With the Note, I wrote, Samsung was hoping to stoke a certain kind of envy in young men all over the world. The firm was banking on the fact that “when you whip a phone as big as the Galaxy Note out of your pants, some dudes will think you’re a god.”

But the joke’s on me and my smart-ass tech journo colleagues. Confounding our predictions, Samsung sold 10 million Notes in 2012, making it one of the most successful smartphone launches in history. Then, in the fall, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note II, an upgraded version with an even larger screen—and it promptly sold 5 million of them, and is on track to sell 20 million over the course of the year. The Note’s success has spawned a spate of copycats, with phablets becoming the hottest new smartphone category. Over at Quartz, Christopher Mims smartly argues that as ridiculous as it looks, the phablet is becoming the computing device of choice in the developing world. “If your budget is limited, why deal with two different upgrade cycles and two different devices, when you can put all of your money into a single device?” he argues. Mims believes that the Note’s success may even force Apple to build a rival phablet.

Since I switched to the Galaxy Note, I can’t even look at an iPhone without giggling. It’s just so puny, like a shriveled appendage or something.

Chosun Ilbo bitching about South Korea falling behind in the space race

You know who’s really upset about the North Korean missile launch?

The Chosun Ilbo, that’s who.

To be sure, they’re upset about the security lapse. But they’re also upset that according to “experts,” the South now lags seven to 10 years behind the North in space launch development. Which really ticks them off, because the South has 39 times the GDP or the North, 19 times the per capita income, and was ranked the world’s fifth most scientifically competitive nation by the IMD.

The problem, they say, is—wait for it, wait for it—the bilateral missile agreement Seoul has with los Estados Unidos. This agreement, says the Chosun, blocks Korea from not only building long-range missiles, but also developing rockets for space exploration. Even with the Naro project, the has inspected the Agency for Defense Development several times to make sure no missile parts have gone into it. Which, IMHO, is a dick move.

At any rate, the Chosun notes there’s no reason South Korea should be behind the North in space technology, that Japan and China have space programs, and Seoul needs to get with the program and present a new national vision and strategy for science and space development.

Marmot’s Note: I’m on record supporting South Korea’s development of not only long-range missiles, but also nice, shiny MIRV warheads to sit on top of those missiles, so sure, I’m down with rockets for “space exploration.” Whether space exploration should be a national priority is another matter. There was a time the Soviets were ahead of the United States in space technology, and look where that got them.

For what it’s worth, Park Geun-hye said during the last debate that the Korean flag would be flying on the moon by 2020. Moon Jae-in thought this was a good idea, too. Korea currently plans to put a landing vehicle on the moon by 2025. When will they put Sam Rockwell on the moon? That’s anyone’s guess.

The Verge is negative on Samsung and Lee Kun-hee’s business practices

Now Sam Byford over at The Verge writes an interesting English language article on the controversial rise of Samsung and their history of legal issues.

Sam acknowledges that Samsung grew rapidly and made smart business decisions:

During the late 80s and early 90s it seemed all but inevitable that Japan would become the dominant manufacturing power in the world. Of course, today the country struggles against South Korean rivals, battered by a hostile exchange rate and sky-high labor costs, but it was Lee’s foresight around two decades ago that allowed Samsung to get the jump on the likes of Sony. He saw Japanese firms dragging their feet on digital technology, creating an opportunity for Korean companies to muscle in on their turf with better, more efficient business practices.

However, he holds no punches on the negatives of the chaebol family system and its relation with government:

While Lee Kun-hee once implored his workers to “change everything but your wife and kids,” that change may not go far enough for Samsung. The traditional chaebol model has helped the company become one of the most successful in the world, but its conservative values are unlikely to help it become a major force for innovation. Lee Kun-hee’s controversial time in charge has undeniably brought the company success — for Samsung to become a truly loved brand, however, it must start looking to a new generation of leadership that prioritizes design and originality over ruthless competition.

Although the article is linked here, it does not necessarily mean that its opinions are shared or endorsed by this blog.  Any ways, a very lively comments section- very Marmotesque.


Microsoft to suspend XBox Live service to minors from Nov 27

According to, Microsoft Korea sent out an email yesterday telling folk that from Nov 27, it would no longer provide XBox Live Service to those under 18 living in Korea.

That means no more online gaming or downloading content on the XBox.

On a positive note, it also means no longer getting pawned by Korean middle school kids in COD.

Microsoft Korea is saying this is because of Korea’s computer gaming law that bans those under 16 from playing online games past midnight. Microsoft Korea said it would be too difficult to implemented a system that would suspend service to minors at specific times of the day, or block minors at the request of their parents in a worldwide service.

Local game services are following the law, but global services like XBox Live are not. Anyway, terminating service for minors was the best option to keep XBox Live alive in Korea, Microsoft Korea explained.

Even non-minor users of XBox Live in Korea will need to undergo I-Pin verification through XBox’s homepage.

Blotter notes the irony of the gaming law, namely, that it does not apply to offline gaming.

In June, Sony “temporarily” suspended service of its PS Store in Korea because of the gaming law. It has yet to be reopened.

Marmot’s Note: Government regulators in the Most Wired Nation on Earth score another own goal. Still, it’s an own goal I stand to benefit from, so good job, I say.

On a related note, making my way slowly through Black Ops II’s campaign. Like what I see so far. And I sort of missed Manuel Noriega.

The Diplomat: Korea needs to innovate

Robert Kelly of the Asian Security Blog has penned a piece in The Diplomat called “A Battle for the ‘Seoul’ of South Korea.

I’m not wild about the title, or actually sure what it means, but Kelly hits on several familiar notes regarding intellectual property rights and what he feels is a need for an injection of  innovation — something he says requires a profound shift at Korea’s very core.

Moving Korea toward more innovative production will require two major changes, perhaps so enormous they should be called cultural. First, Korean education needs to emphasize creativity and free-thinking more. Far too much pre-college training focuses on the rote recitation of answers with little underlying comprehension.

Drawing from his experience as an educator here, he says that the system…

…encourages an intense “copying culture” in which the instructor’s thoughts are treated like ideal answers to open-ended questions and parroted back.

And what would a piece on South Korean innovation be without a Samsung vs. Apple reference?

When the iPhone hit and Koreans learned of it, Korea’s telecom oligopolists panicked. They pressed the Korean government to maintain a protectionist security standard to prevent the iPhone’s arrival for two years, while Samsung effectively reverse-engineered the iPhone to create a competitor.

You can read the rest here.

So, what’s been going on between Samsung and Apple?

Back in late August Apple was awarded a $1.08 billion verdict in San Jose, CA court.  It looked bad for Samsung.  Since then, the Great Thermonuclear Patent War of the early 21st century between Samsung and Apple has gotten more nuanced with wins and loses for both parties.

Apple has lost in Japan, the Netherlands and the U.K. (including the appeal), with the U.K. loss being particularly irritating for Apple.  Furthermore, the fight appears to have moved beyond the court and into supplier relationships, supply chain management, unit sales and marketing.

It’s common knowledge in the industry that not only is Samsung a major competitor to Apple in finished goods, but a major supplier of components such as logic chips, flash memory and screens.  Recent tear downs of Apple product show a noticeable reduction of Samsung made components, particularly flash memory.  However, Apple still buys a lot of screens and logic chips from Samsung.  It appears there are very few companies that can supply as many logic chips to Apple for the quantity and quality requirements that Apple needs.  Samsung, appears to know this and has apparently (and arbitrarily) raised logic chip prices by 20%.  According to sources, Apple has no choice but to eat this.  Some sources claim this is just Samsung’s way of “creatively” recouping their settlement losses to Apple.  At the same time it is currently not written in stone that the San Jose court verdict will even stand, as Samsung’s lawyers move to declare a mistrial.

Turmoil with major suppliers has made timely availability of Apple’s brand new iPhone 5 spotty.  There are reliable rumors that Apple forked over $2 billion to keep nearly bankrupt Sharp afloat as a somewhat reliable supplier for iPhone 5 screens.  Without reliable supplies of the iPhone 5, Samsung’s Galaxy S3 has taken the lead as the most popular smartphone in the world by unit sales.  Another hit?  Apple has been declared a copier by losing a Texas federal court decision that they infringed on virtual-private-network technology patents of VirnetX, in the tone of $368 million.

Supplier issues, patent losses, competitive pressures and no dynamite announcements of blockbuster products for the holiday season has weighed heavily and since August, Apple stock has gone from just over $700/share to $540, a loss of over 23%.  It’s been barely three months since the big San Jose verdict, however has the tide already begun to turned against Apple?

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