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Last Updated: Friday, 3 November 2006, 16:11 GMT
Technology heaven in S Korea
Spencer Kelly
By Spencer Kelly
Click presenter

South Korea is a hustling, bustling cosmopolitan place that could not be more different to its communist neighbour, and this week we are there to see what is what.

Cuber cafe in Seoul, BBC
Game playing is extremely popular in South Korea

You probably thought Japan was the land of the robots, didn't you?

But South Korea is certainly giving it a run for its money. The government here wants every family to own a robot by the end of the next decade.

Korea became a technology haven because, after a major financial crisis in the mid 90s, the government decided to invest almost everything into IT.

It poured billions into the building of a country-wide optic fibre grid, and pushed companies to bring high-speed broadband to the masses.

When a third of the population live in only three densely packed, high-rise cities, wiring up every home with lightning fast broadband is not that hard.

Wired for speed

And when they say fast, they mean fast - things are so fast here that they talk in megabytes per second.

Today, three quarters of Koreans have broadband, making South Korea the most wired country on the planet.

Having access to a fully networked home encourages outrageous thinking and possibilities.

Many Koreans are also living virtual lives on Cynet

This is the country that produced the internet fridge a few years ago, and has since gone on to give the world the internet oven, the internet microwave, the internet washing machine, and the internet air conditioning unit!

While technology companies are targeting home-owners with appliances that can be controlled across the net, younger Koreans are using all that bandwidth for online gaming.

Gaming is so popular here that there are two TV stations dedicated to the game Starcraft, at championship level.

Away from the home, internet access is equally abundant - super-cool internet cafes, or PC baangs, mean you are never very far from your online life, and what a life it is.

Cyworld is an online social network in the same vein as Myspace, but with penetration rates that would make Rupert Murdoch green with envy.

An astonishing 90% of Korean twentysomethings have a cute or not-so-cute personal avatar, living in its own 3D homepage.

There is an air of impatience about the Koreans - they want the latest technology, and they want it now.

That means you will find everything for sale here - the highest resolution high-definition TVs, blu-ray discs, and the occasional HD-DVD.

Here you can find the usual street market tat sitting alongside all-singing, all-dancing tech emporia.

An overcrowded, impatient, technological playground - Seoul is a fascinating place, and a great city for Click to play around in.

Koreans playing the game of life
03 May 06 |  Technology

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