South Korea’s emerging technology giants

South Korea

Taiwan vs. South Korea, are no longer in the same magnitude

Taiwanese like to compare South Korea in all aspects. It may be reasonable from the end of the last century to the beginning of this century; because at that time Taiwan surpassed South Korea in terms of per capita GDP or industrial development. Such a comparison will make Taiwanese people psychological better.

However, after nearly 20 years of development, South Korea is now not only a member of the G20, it is estimated that the total GDP of the country is 1.8 trillion U.S. dollars in 2021 and ranks tenth in the world (Taiwan is 760 billion, ranking 21), in terms of per capita GDP or industrial development. Taiwan has long been left behind, apparently not in the same level. No one in South Korea regards Taiwan as a major economic opponent.

South Korea’s new technology giant in recent years

In addition to the well-known electronic semiconductor industry groups such as Samsung (ticker: SSNLF), LG, and SK that I mentioned in the book “The Rules of Super Growth Stocks Investing”, South Korea has also produced many technology companies in the past 20 years:

  • Celltrion: Founded by a group of unemployed snakes, now dominates the biosimilar medicine industry, it is the legendary South Korea’s most valuable biotechnology company.
  • Coupang (ticker: CPNG): Coupang is known as the Amazon of South Korea. It is well-known worldwide for its amazing delivery time (order before 12:00 midnight, and it is guaranteed to be delivered to the buyer before 7:00 in the morning before you go to work after you wake up), is the largest e-commerce company in South Korea. About half of South Korea’s 51 million population downloads the company’s mobile app, and it is the only e-commerce company in South Korea with growth in turnover and revenue in 2020. Coupon is the largest foreign company listed on the US stock market after Alibaba.
  • Kakao: It sticks to 97% of Koreans, started from social life, and has been involved in various services such as audio, entertainment, games, music, payment, ride sharing, animation, driving on behalf of, and banking in the past 10 years. The founder of Kakao, Kim Bum-soo, has a net wealth of US$13.5 billion in 2021, making him the richest man in South Korea, surpassing Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong. Pure online banking Kakao Bank went public in 2021 and has been listed on South Korea’s largest retail bank.
  • Naver: Taiwan’s national communications software LINE was originally developed by Naver. Naver accounts for more than 70% of South Korea’s online search engine market. South Korea is one of the few markets where Google (ticker: GOOGL and GOOG) cannot dominate. The company is now even more involved. E-commerce, finance, entertainment, and self-driving fields. Naver’s Webtoon web comics platform has 72 million users worldwide, and the gaming division has become an independent NHN Entertainment Group.
  • Krafton: Krafton is the Blue Hole company that developed the famous online game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds”, which has been a big hit in the game industry in recent years; the Chinese version is also the cash cow of China’s Tencent Games (ticker: TCEHY) .
  • Bandai Namco : It is the cartoon company among countless fans around the world, and cartoon fans stick with it every day.
  • NCSoft: South Korea’s second largest game company, founder Jin Zechen ranks tenth among the richest in South Korea. In the past 20 years, the online gaming paradise that no one knows about across the Taiwan Strait has been the company’s signature product. The company also owns the Korean professional baseball team NC Dinosaurs.
  • Netmarble Games: South Korea’s largest online game company. Its IPO in 2017 was the second largest IPO in South Korea’s history.
  • Nexon: South Korea’s largest gaming company, the company has at least 350 million users. The founder, Kim Jong Joo, is the third richest person in South Korea, with a net worth of US$9.9 billion. In addition, Nexon also holds approximately 83% of the shares of Kobit, a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange.
  • Pearl Abyss: The company went public in 2018. The main game of Pearl Abyss is “Black Desert”. It is a self-playing game that has brought the company into business since its launch in 2015. Received 400 million U.S. dollars, of which 80% came from abroad.
  • Smilegate: Smilegate cooperated with mainland Tencent in 2008, and then launched “Crossfire”. Smilegate is also the largest shareholder of SundayToz, a South Korean mobile game developer. He Bin, the founder of Human Rights, is the sixth richest person in South Korea, worth 4.2 billion US dollars.
  • Viva Republica: A fintech company, the operator of Alipay Toss in South Korea. It also pioneered a stock trading platform by mobile apps.

Most are internet software companies

Smart investors like you may have noticed that almost all of these South Korean new-generation technology giants are related to the Internet, and nearly half are game companies. In fact, many of the well-known games known to people across the Taiwan Strait are the works of South Koreans. The most important is their huge success should attribute to mainland China’s game market.

In a country with a population close to twice that of Taiwan, in addition to the electronic semiconductor industry that you and I know well, South Korea has also shined in the world’s two major industries of performing arts and games in the past 20 years. Both industries do not require high capital investment. The asset-light industry in China is a typical high-return industry with strong intellectual property rights and cultural influence. It’s not easy for the Koreans to do it.

credit: Big_heart

Taiwan stands still and self-satisfied

As a comparison, Taiwan’s main industries are all those that existed 20-30 years ago, and the main industry has hardly been updated. Not only has it not kept up with the pace of the times at all, it has been lackluster in the Internet software industry (the top few large stock markets in the world in the past two decades have been this type of company); there are hardly any well-known or climatic start-ups. This is a big problem for Taiwan’s industrial development. Readers are welcomed to read my another blog article on this topic “Failed Taiwan Software Industry Policy“.

Related articles

The following is an overview of the development of new innovative technologies in some important countries in my blog, or brief articles:


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