Epidemic expected to accelerate transition to digital economy

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : April 2, 2020, 14:31 | Updated : April 6, 2020, 08:53

E-mart, a retail franchise, offers a discount for notebooks in preparation for online classes at schools on April 2. [Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- South Korea's leading life insurance company is getting down to a digital platform on an order from its chief who forecast an irreversible change caused by a new coronavirus epidemic in the pattern of consumers living in a country well-known for an ultra-fast mobile telecom network that opened a connected society.

"We need to prepare quickly for a new world that COVID-19 will change," Kyobo Life Insurance Group chairman Shin Chang-jae said in an inhouse broadcast on April 1, calling for a quick response to the environment that the epidemic has changed.

"Consumers accustomed to digital trends will not go back to the way they used to spend," Shin said, predicting the trend will accelerate further and lead to a rapid transition to the digital economy. "In line with these changes, we need to accelerate our non-face-to-face operations using digital technology and discover new business models."

At Kim's request, Kyobo Life is considering building a digital platform and expanding remote video conferencing to strengthen its "untact" business.

The epidemic sent many people staying in their homes. Social distancing, an act of not engaging in social activities or not visiting populated places, has settled as a social trend since the first COVID-19 case was found in South Korea in January. Content and food delivery services have gained popularity, with religious services being held via social media.

State data showed that South Korea's internet traffic in March has increased by about 13 percent from January. The increased use of OTT services was listed as a key factor.

From April 9, South Korea will open online school classes progressively to help students receive education during a school lockdown. Education Minister Yoo Eun-hye said the whole world is now paying attention to online schools as a solution for students. She said that through gradual steps, South Korea can gain the momentum to become an innovative country in the global education technology industry.

Education officials believe South Korea can easily adopt remote education and online classes, helped by its super-fast internet connection based on a 5G network. The education ministry said that online school classes will include various types of remote education including interactive discussions.

Naver, a top web portal operator in South Korea, has expanded its customer service for untact marketing by small offline store operators. Sellers can promote products sold at street shops through live broadcasts and provide feedback to customers in real-time. Customers can order products via Naver's online store platform. Naver will provide teleconference and telecommuting solutions.

Drive-thru services are common in many areas from restaurants and fish markets to public libraries as clients can make pre-orders with smartphone apps. Consumers showed a positive reaction to drive-thru stores and other forms of drive-thru services sprang up. Farmers organized drive-thru marketplaces to sell crops while public libraries operate drive-thru book rental services.
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