Christian Milelli

The « new economy » in South Korea rhymes with the Internet. In 2003, the “land of morning calm” has actually become the most connected country in the world. The present study tackles this phenomenon from a number of angles. The Internet is not only considered as a physical network but a lever of transformation of the country’s economic and social life. Although the role of the state has been decisive and remains focal, it is not enough to explain the extreme rapidity with which the new electronic medium spread, which is due to a broad range of causes. The Korean experience differs from former ones in that it extends well beyond the market sphere (e-commerce) to areas such as education, volunteer associations and even politics. The emergence of a national dimension constitutes another characteristic that at first seems paradoxical, since the Internet is so universal in scope. Yet observation of the evolution of Internet traffic on the national level confirms this trend. South Korea is far from an exceptional case in Asia, but the country has taken the lead over its neighbors, becoming a new “model.” Beyond these singular features, the Korean experience in the use of the Internet again demonstrates that a global “information revolution” – in other words, a process that is quickly reshaping the material bases of an entire society – is underway.