The Dilemma of Ko Hyun-jin

Some claim that because of his former role as CEO of Microsoft Korea CEO, Ko Hyun-jin is not qualified to be president of KIPA.

Ko Hyun-jin, who previously served as the CEO of Microsoft Korea, recently became the president of the Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency (KIPA). KIPA is a government agency that promotes the development of the Korean software industry and software exports, exerting a lot of power over the local software industry.

Mr. Kos appointment has come under fire because of charges that Microsoft Corp., his previous employer, abused its monopoly position and deprived customers of meaningful choice. Recently, a group of organizations, including the Korea Progressive Network, Intellectual Left (IPLeft) and the Citizens Action Network, released a joint statement opposing Ko Hyun-jins appointment as president of KIPA.

According to Mr. Kos opponents, KIPA has an obligation to promote not just commercial software but also open-source software such as Linux, and to extend the public software infrastructure. Having demonstrated his hostility toward open software as CEO of Microsoft Korea, the civic organizations contend that Mr. Ko is not qualified to serve as KIPAs president. In addition, opponents claim that appointing Mr. Ko as president will open the organization to more influence by U.S. software makers and reduce the domestic software industrys autonomy.

In spite of this opposition, Mr. Ko Hyun-jin was appointed as president of KIPA. One of the reasons appears to be that one of KIPAs priorities is to attract foreign research and development centers.

As part of its efforts to boost the domestic software industry, KIPA awards a monthly prize to an outstanding software company and nurtures and supports software startups. Domestic software companies that compete directly with Microsoft Korea, including Haansoft, Namo Interactive, Nexsoft and Techdigm, participate in these programs.

If Mr. Ko vigorously pursues his new role, that may blunt Microsoft Koreas business prospects here. More broadly, Mr. Ko may face a conflict between the twin goals of attracting foreign research and development centers from companies like Intel and Microsoft, while promoting the domestic software industry.