This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 9/8/2020

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

South Korea has earned a reputation as a leading global information and communication technology center and is ranked second in Bloomberg Index of Most Innovative Nations 2020. With its cutting-edge ICT infrastructure boasting the world’s fastest internet speeds, the country is home to global leading electronics and IT companies such as Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, SK Hynix and Naver. Korea is motivated to keep its reputation as a global ICT powerhouse by investing heavily into innovative technologies such as 5G Network, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)



South Korea is developing its AI capabilities and has expressed its ambition to position itself as a global contender in AI technologies markets. ROK officials see AI as a crucial element for the country’s prowess in the ICT sector and are committed to Korea becoming an AI powerhouse. In support of this goal, in 2019, the ROK Government announced its first national AI strategy which included focusing on heavy investments in AI infrastructures and greater use of AI technologies across all industries. In 2020, the government released the Digital New Deal which envisions state-led industrial and educational efforts on the potential opportunities in AI.
South Korea recognized that there is an engineering gap for experienced and skilled AI talent and therefore in 2019, the ROK designated five universities as AI Engineering schools. Additionally, the ROK plans to add more schools in the coming years with a focus on developing highly qualitied AI engineers. Many in the country see the creation and development of AI startups and businesses as vital to building a strong AI ecosystem. As a result, the ROK is supporting the creation of an AI-oriented startup incubator to help develop emerging AI businesses.
The major Korean ICT companies are aggressively pursuing AI technologies. Two leading electronics companies - Samsung and LG Electronics, the top internet companies - Kakao and Naver, and the major telecom companies - SK and KT, have invested significantly in Artificial Intelligence. Just to highlight a few investments:
  • Samsung has opened seven AI centers in five countries and worked on various projects such as new machine learning algorithms, AI Chip and On-Device AI.
  • Naver, Korea’s largest search engine and portal site, acquired Xerox AI research center Europe in 2017 and developed its own core AI engines for speech/image recognition, machine learning platform and test analytics, etc. Also, in 2019, the company and the Softbank group jointly committed to invest $1 billion investment, annually.
  • KT, the second largest mobile carrier in Korea, has committed $300M investment on core AI research for the next three years, and announced a plan to expand its AI engineer headcount and partnership with other AI companies.
Regardless of the size of the firms or solution’s countries of origin, these companies are seeking cutting-edge technology and applications to enhance their AI capabilities and implement AI technologies to their products and services. 

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

· On-Device AI: In order to lower the power consumption of devices and increase the speed of AI computation, the Korean electronics companies are interested in developing light and fast deep learning solutions which allows devices to perform AI computation independent of any external server.
· AI Chip: By reducing the need to send and receive data over the internet, AI chips enable devices to perform intensive AI computations on all IT devices. All the major Korean ICT companies have been investing heavily on developing AI chips for adding new product and services based on AI. 
· Monetization of AI: As Korean companies are leveraging AI as part of core technology stacks, they need to monetize the technology on a large scale. These companies are actively seeking to learn more on how to monetize AI through their new/existing products and services.
· Explainable AI: As the influence of AI technology spreads across sectors such as healthcare, finance and defense, companies are looking for the AI models that provide greater interpretability or users and guarantee the reliability of the model.


Trade Shows
  • AI EXPO Korea (September, Seoul)
  • Organized by KORAIA, AI Expo is the only AI exhibition in South Korea.  In 2019, 127 Korean/global companies and 21,000 participants attended the event. The exhibition also featured technology seminars and network events.
Web Resource Local Contact
Mr. Chan Hyuk Kim
Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service, Korea
U.S. Embassy Seoul
188, Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu
Seoul 03141, Korea
Tel: 82-2-397-4466
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