The United Nations named Korea the leader in e-government for the second time in its annual survey of online and automated services for citizens. This year's survey was more people-focused than infrastructure-focused, as it has been in previous years.
Trailing behind Korea this year were the Netherlands, U.K. and Denmark. According to the United Nations Public Administration Program, there were few differences among the top-three contenders.
What put Korea over the top, though, was its highly centralized approach, using the http://korea.go.kr portal.
Here's what the report (PDF link) had to say about Korea's efforts:
The Government's main website has developed into an integrated portal where citizens can find almost every service they want, on both national and local levels. The main government portal is a gateway to services through multiple channels, by theme and subjects; citizens can also have a customized channel by inputting their own age, gender and services of interest. Back-office integration across many departments brings together a powerful search engine offering advanced categorizing function, which can list results by websites, services, and news, including at the local level.
A key reason for continued leadership in world e-government progress is significant development and provision of downloadable mobile applications that are available from its national portal. The cross sector mobile apps for citizens are both iPhone and Android compatible including for e-Learning, which allows students to learn on their mobile phone in areas such as social studies, math and English. For employment opportunities, Jobcast provides information on availability of jobs in the Republic of Korea along with the relevant legislation governing labour.
My main experiences with Korea's e-government services have been in the areas of paying taxes and getting my work visa renewed. I must say that paying taxes is far easier (and perhaps a bit less painless) than in my home country, the United States. As for the visa process, there's still room for improvement but having even a basic online system puts Korea far ahead of most other countries.
Korea remains the most wired and probably the most tech-savvy country in the world. Given that, it remains to be seen how well some of Korea's practices can be adapted for other countries that lack the online infrastructure and "digital native" mindset. While I've not heard of any concerted efforts thus far, perhaps Korea's next export could be expertise and systems for e-government.
About the author by Erik Cornelius
I've been a tech enthusiast for nearly my entire life and I exported myself from the US to the tech-savvy city of Seoul in 2005. Since then I've worked with a number of Korea's technology companies, large and small, helping them promote their products and brands around the world. When I'm not writing for this blog, you can find me biking along the Han River or taking pictures all over Korea.
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