6Sense: Generating New Possibilities in the New Internet.
Produced by: IPv6 Summit, Inc.

Korea: An Emerging IPv6 Superpower
By Alex Lightman
Publisher, 6Sense Newletter

Alex Lightman

In the year and half since we've published 6Sense we've used articles as our sole means of communicating IPv6. In the interest of getting wider exposure, and allowing for tighter focus on key issues, people, and places, this month we begin our interview series.

Our first IPv6 expert is Professor Kilnam Chon, who was a featured speaker at our Coalition Summit for IPv6 last May, and who was kind enough to be my primary tutor about the Internet miracle of Korea. While many in the US cling to the idea that the US still has 50% market share of global IPv4 traffic, with half of that, or 25% of the world, in Virginia, Dr. Chon makes a surprising observation. He told me in Seoul at the IPv6 Summit there was about 10 terabits/second of IPv4 traffic, and that the US and Korea each had about 1 terabit/second, or 10%, of total traffic. (Note: Dr. Chon's comments below are slightly different, indicating that IP traffic statistics are not exact, but at least Dr. Chon and Korea, unlike the US government, is trying to find the right numbers!).

However, the US is a $12 trillion GDP, while the Republic of Korea is a $700 billion economy. Also surprising was his assertion that there were 80 full time government employees working on the IPv6 transition in Korea. If we adjusted this for GDP, that would be the equivalent of 1,370 full time US government employees. The best estimate that I've heard is that there are about 21 full time US government workers on IPv6.

Given this disparity, and proportional emphasis, it's likely that Korea alone will leap even further ahead of the US in many measures of Internet leadership. Add in Korea's cooperation with Japan and China through face to face tripartite ministerial meetings with the Minister of Information and Communication, a position that the US has never imagined, even in science fiction, leading the way, and you have a partial explanation for Korea's outstanding trade surplus in high technology with the US that is growing in Korea's favor.  - Alex Lightman

Dr. Kilnam Chon Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

Dr. Kilnam Chon Interview by Alex Lightman

Some background on Dr. Chon. Dr. Chon received a Ph.D degree in Computer Science from UCLA and a BS degree in Engineering Science from Osaka University. He worked at Rockwell International as a distributed computer system designer in the late 60s, and at Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a member of the Technical Staff in the area of advanced mission control in the late 70s. He joined the Korea Institute of Electronics Technology in 1979 to work on computer systems development, and became a professor of Computer Science at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in 1982.

Dr. Chon has worked on networking systems, including the Internet, since the early 1980s. He founded and is the current chair of various regional Internet organizations such as Asia Pacific Networking Group (APNG), Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN), and Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Name Forum (APTLD). He is also the co-chair of the Coordination Committee of Intercontinental Research Networking (CCIRN). Dr. Chon developed the first Internet in Asia, called SDN in 1982, and organized the first Internet conference (PCCS) in 1985.

Dr. Chon is the recipient of various awards including World Technology Forum (in the area of communication technology) and the presidential awards on Internet development from the Korean government. Appropriately, he is also an avid mountain climber.

Lightman: Thank you for speaking with us about Korea. You have much to be proud of. Who is leading Korea's IPv6 efforts? How many people are working on IPv6 the government? In industry? and In academia?

Chon: A rough estimate in full time equivalent (FTE) would be that there are about 50 people in the government and its agencies, including NCA, ETRI, TTA, NIDA'. Around 200 people are working on IPv6 in industry, both the service and manufacturing sectors and about 50 people in academia and universities.

(Editor's note: this totals about 300 FTE working on IPv6 in Korea, with 80 paid for by the government. Our estimate for the US is about 100 FTE, with 30 paid by the government. Korea's population is 48 million. America's is about 295 million.)

Lightman: What has Korea accomplished with respect to IPv6? How much has been spent?


  • IPv6-ready routers (small and medium) development
  • Center of excellence at ETRI and NCA as well as at a few universities
  • Major IPv6 transition commitment by the national government including
  • Ministry of Defense
  • Serious production-level deployment in public sector on scientific and engineering applications, and VoIP.

The public sector (government and universities) spends around $5 million per year or more, and the private sector spends around $20~30 millions per year.

Lightman: What is Korea's "market share" of global IPv4 traffic? What is the US portion? What is Korea's share of IPv6? The US?

Chon: I estimate the global average IPv4 traffic between 5 and 10 Terabits per second (Tbps; 1 terabit = 1,000 gigabits) with USA leading at 1~2 Tbps, and Korea following at 1 Tbps or more.

(Note: Korea's Internet traffic, both IPv4 and IPv6, is growing faster than US traffic and its video over IP is growing much faster).

I estimate the global average IPv6 Traffic at around 1 Gbps with two major traffic generating countries; China and Japan with several hundred Mbps each, and Korea and Europe are following. We are investigating the detail figures for these and other countries now.

Lightman: Where is IPv6 adoption taking place? What industries and applications, and why?

Chon: Research networking came first with Korea Native Gigabit Network of 10 institutions and others. Organization-wide adoption is coming up next at National Computization Agency (NCA) and others. NCA is using IPv6 fairly extensively including its telephone service with IPv6 VoIP.

The public sector commitment (eGovernment, Ministry of Defence, and many others) is coming now with specific plan under development. Many cities are looking for IPv6 for their ubiquitous city development.

(Editor's note: Both Japan and Korea, having achieved their eJapan and eKorea plans, are now moving to uJapan and uKorea, with specific targets for making the Internet ubiquitiously accessible by everyone, everywhere by specific dates. Ubiquitous city development refers to putting thousands, then millions, of IPv6 nodes in major cities).

All major Internet service providers are getting ready with major nation-wide IPv6 service deployment in 2005-2006.

The commercial sector is working on several major areas including home networking and sensor network including RFID.

Lightman: When does Korea see specific IPv6 milestones happening by?

Chon: 100 Mbps aggregate traffic by 2006 (with 1 Gbps by 2008) The transition starts at Ministry of Defense in 2008.

Lightman: How is the Korean government, as well as industry and universities, promoting IPv6 adoption and advances?

Chon: The Ministry of Information and Communication is carrying on the 839 Program with IPv6 as one of the three infrastructure components, and carries on IPv6 promotion committee meetings. IPv6 Forum of Korea has 240 member organizations is addressing service promotion as well as technology development promotion.

Lightman: Why is Korea working to deploy IPv6 and to be an IPv6 leader?

Chon: IPv6 is an Asian phenomenon. Almost all Asian countries are looking to make major contribution to many Internet areas including IPv6, broadband, and multilingualism. IPv6 is one of the natural choices (to focus on) due to its clean start. We in Asia can participate from the beginning of the technology deployment, and IPv6 has a vast address space. The IPv4 address space would not be good enough for Asia, which has a 4 billion population.

(Editor's note: IPv4 uses a 32 bit address allowing 2 to the 32nd power, or 4.3 billion addresses. The US government alone has over 800 million of these. IPv6 uses a 128 bit address, generating 3.4 x 10 to 38th power addresses, 23 orders of magnitude greater than 340 trillion addresses, a common mistake about IPv6).

Lightman: What do you think of IPv6 efforts in Japan? China? The US? Europe?

Chon: China has a remarkable IPv6 strategy in top-down fashion, and I believe China will succeed in IPv6 deployment regardless of what happens in other countries.

Japan has a remarkable IPv6 strategy in bottom-up fashion with great initiative by WIDE Project in 1990s followed by industry leadership in 2000s.

USA could survive as one of the IPv6 leaders due to the DoD transition commitment and the manufacturing industry which is leading in IPv6 technology.

Europe has been making a very good contribution on research and development aspect of IPv6, and needs to identify a good, winning strategy on its deployment.

Lightman: What advice would you give to the US government about deploying IPv6?

Chon: DoD made the remarkable and obvious decision (to mandate) the IPv6 transition in the past. This is very strong leadership by the US government. I would like to see more leadership by having (all) other federal agencies to make the transition commitment along (with) the DoD.

Lightman: Thank you very much for sharing your insights, Dr. Chon. May you climb many mountains!