1. KT invites Israeli Deputy PM Olmert for technical demonstration
2. World's best information security- Israel's power
3. Israeli young people making miracles I met
On January 30, 2005, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called to inform me that Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (shortly promoted to Prime Minister)would arrive at KT at 3 pm that very day.
As the CTO of KT at that time, I had been preparing a reception plan for a long time. At that time, KT and Samsung Electronics jointly had developed the world's first Megapass service that could simultaneously transmit 1.2 megabytes of high-speed data, as well as a voice, through copper wires in the phone network. Deputy Prime Minister Olmert was supposed to visit KT and Samsung Electronics to see this cutting-edge technology that would change the future.
As this was going to be my first ever meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Olmert, tensions were running a little high. Olmert arrived at KT under the somber escort of a police car, but as soon as he got out of the car, he called me by name while giving me a big hug and appearing just like a friendly uncle.
All tension was immediately eased, and I took him for a 15-minute tour of the KT headquarters and we ended up at the KT Future Hall, which was ambitiously prepared for the 2002 World Cup VIPs. We eagerly showed off our capabilities by demonstrating each aspect of the future that would be changed through the world's best high-speed Internet, "Megapass." This list already included smart homes, self-driving cars, and remote diabetes measurement technology jointly developed by Bundang Seoul National University Hospital and KT. As Olmert took such a long time continuing to ask questions in amazement at the new technology, President Lee Yong-kyung, who had been waiting to meet with Olmert, finally came down to the demonstration hall just in time to hear Olmert promise to invite me to Israel.
Then in early March, I visited Israel for the first time, and as soon as I got off the airport, I was informed of a suicide bombing at the hotel I had booked. So, I suddenly had to change my accommodation to another hotel.
Fortunately, I had traveler's insurance at that time. Before I left Korea, I had tried to get traveler's insurance there, but no Korean insurance firms dealt with traveler's insurance to Israel as they were at war with Lebanon at the time. Therefore, I planned a stopover in England where I bought traveler’s insurance through Lloyd's Insurance before carrying on to Tel Aviv.
Ben Gurion Airport is famous for having the world’s strictest and most difficult entry screening procedures and waiting times, but under Deputy Prime Minister Olmert's instructions, I was provided with a special escort who enabled me to bypass the screening, skip the lines and quickly and efficiently exit the airport.
Even though I had safely arrived in Israel, my luggage sadly had not. To make matters worse, I was scheduled to meet Deputy Prime Minister Olmert immediately upon arrival. I asked my secretary to call and make my deepest apologies in advance of my arrival at the government building. Olmert showed his kind consideration by welcoming me dressed in casual clothes as well, instead of his usual formal attire so that everyone felt comfortable.
They provided me with a close look at the Office of Chief Scientist(OCS) under the direction of the Deputy Prime Minister's Office. The conclusion I reached was that Israel had successfully demonstrated how a country without rich natural resources, could still thrive with science and technology. When the Office of Chief Scientist under Deputy Prime Minister Olmert (now renamed the Innovation Office), was established, it set the direction of future innovative technology, and all the other government ministries followed by committing to develop an "innovative economy centered on science and technology" that gathered strength in line with it.
This creative approach and unified direction to their economy is analogous to a composer writing a score in which every minister in every different ministry plays their own musical instruments together resulting in a wonderful orchestral composition. Continuing with the metaphor, here are Israel’s four major movements of science and technology:
* The first movement was the seawater desalination technique of the '70s using reverse osmotic pressure.
* The second movement was nuclear safety technology using heavy water in the 1980s.
* The 3rd movement was the 90s Internet security technology
* The 4th movement was life sciences in the 2000s.
This strategy of building an economy founded on science and technology opened up a new paradigm that leads to tremendous advances over the next decades.