Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



The deployment of telecommunications services in Korea represents one of the great technological success stories of the developing world. In a remarkably brief period, the penetration of local telephone service, wireless telephony, and broadband technologies has soared to among the highest levels in the world. The history of Korean telecommunications thus provides a useful case study for other developing countries seeking to expand and modernize their telecommunications infrastructures. At first blush, the explosive growth of telecommunications services has appeared to go hand in hand with the liberalization of Korea's telecommunications markets. A review of the history of Korean telecommunications reform reveals that the market liberalization that did exist was largely the result of foreign pressure. Moreover, although Korea took steps towards liberalizing its telecommunications markets, culminating with the substantial reforms announced in 1995, it has backslid since that time, allowing the industry to engage in a disturbing degree of re-concentration. As a result, Korea has not received the full benefit of the enhancements to consumer welfare, efficiency, and innovation that traditionally result from competition. It also suggests that, notwithstanding pronouncements to the contrary, the traditional pattern of direct governmental involvement in industrial policy remains firmly in place.


Telecommunications, regulated industries

Publication Title

Legal Reform in Korea

Publication Citation

in LEGAL REFORM IN KOREA 169 (Tom Ginsburg ed., RoutledgeCurzon 2004).