Recently the Koss (Korean Open Source Software) group has organized the first Korean Free Software conference in Seoul, in cooperation with NIPA, the governmental agency for the promotion of Information Technology industry. FSFE contributed to the organization and I, as well as a few other people, have been invited to present our views at the conference.
My speech started like "I knew I should not come to teach, but to learn, and indeed my anticipation was correct". Korea seems to have a lot to teach us. They are coming from behind, but have covered great length, and show some impressive numbers of adoption. At least they have a strategy and an agenda by which public authorities shall adopt Free Software.
The last numbers show a staggering 8.2% annual growth and an overall significant conversion of the public sector (including government institutions) that shows a resounding 25.1% of computers using GNU/Linux. National Computing & Information Industry will grow its GNU/Linux share to 40% by 2015. All these data were provided by Yu Kil Yang, Vice President of NIPA. He is the gentleman featuring at the rightmost place of the bottom row of people in the image below.
But again, I was left under the impression that they know where to go, are pursuing their strategy with money and determination, and are harvesting a lot of benefit. Precisely what is missing from the European Digital Agenda to be a really outstanding one. By the way, my presentation covered the shortcomings of EIF v.2.
The folks here are the VIPs of the conference (or so the organizers believe). You might recognize a few of them. The gentleman in the honour spot next to FSFE's President Karsten Gerloff is the President of NIPA, who has the rank of a Vice-Ministry in the Government.