South Korea boasts one of the highest fixed broadband penetration levels in the world with more than 100% household penetration, but the impressive bit hits you when you realize that the nation also clocks in the highest average broadband connection speed of near 17 Mbps and a blistering average peak connection speed of near 47 Mbps.
In comparison, third-place Japan clocks in at a 9-Mbps average connection speed and a 33-Mbps peak speed. On the mobile front, South Korea operators were also among the first in Asia to introduce nation-wide LTE services and smartphone adoption has jumped from 470,000 at the end 2009 to over 20 million handsets by the end of last year.
With such high broadband connectivity and penetration levels, it is little wonder that South Koreans are among the savviest internet users globally.
For example, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) and the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) conducts an annual survey of internet usage and classify internet users as "someone from age 3 and above who has accessed the internet at least once a month". The 2011 survey recorded an astonishing internet usage level of 66% among children aged 3 to 5 years old. It is no wonder then that this digital nation also has one of the highest numbers of internet gaming addicts globally with 31% of total internet users in the same survey highlighting that they have some form of game or internet addiction.
Re-inventing the internet
For a nation at the forefront of mobile and internet usage, the advent of the web-enabled smartphones is poised to radically change the way South Koreans work and play. Korean mobile operators have already introduced features like transport debit cards, credit/debit cards, student ID cards and are now looking to enhance user experience for existing mobile services like video and gaming.