Asian Insider April 5: Seoul's push to lead in 5G services

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.


South Korea's Samsung Electronics released the world's first smartphone with built-in 5G technology, the Galaxy S105G, in Seoul, adding to the country’s push to lead in 5G services, even as telcos worldwide race to roll out the new technology. 

The launch today comes two days after Seoul became the first country to launch 5G services with three superfast networks going live. US giant Verizon launched commercial services in Chicago and Minneapolis, a few hours later. 

Why 5G services matter: Services offered through 5G technology are expected to be 20 times faster than 4G services. It will also enable self-driving cars and smart cities and factories to function. New products, services and even industries could take shape. According to one estimate, 5G will drive an extra US$12 trillion (S$16.27 trillion) of annual sales in 2035. The sum is about the size of China's economy last year. 

Countries in the race: South Korea is in a race with China, the United States and Japan to market 5G services. Each country has invested significantly to make the most of the new opportunities 5G will allow for. 

Go deeper:

South Korea first in the world to roll out commercial 5G services

5G will provide huge leap forward in the way we live and work, say analysts

Race for 5G


A Japanese spacecraft attempted to blast a crater on an asteroid to scoop material that would help improve our understanding of how the solar system evolved and how earth was formed. The Hayabusa2 probe has been described as the riskiest yet and Kyodo News reports that the experiment's success will be known only in late April.

Has this been done before?: Nasa's Deep Impact project succeeded in creating an artificial crater on a comet in 2005, but only for observation. This time, the aim of creating the crater on the asteroid Ryugu is to throw up "fresh" material from under its surface. The asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago, when the solar system was born.
More about the probe: The Hayabusa2 mission has a price tag of around 30 billion yen (S$365 million). It was launched in December 2014 and is scheduled to return to Earth in 2020. About the size of a large fridge, Hayabusa2 is equipped with solar panels and is the successor to Japan’s earlier explorer, Hayabusa - which means falcon in Japanese. 


With less than a dozen days left to go, the electoral race in Indonesia is reaching a crescendo. And not only because of the campaigning by the two leading presidential contenders and their teams. Creative Indonesians - from musicians and singer wannabes to housewives are cheering the candidates with dances and songs on the streets and on the Internet

We're tracking this closely. If you've missed any part of it or want a quick update, visit our microsite on Indonesian elections.

Did you miss?

Prabowo Subianto edging closer to Joko Widodo: Survey

Elections set to give a big boost to Indonesia economy

Horse trading among coalition parties begins


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked China to keep off an island in disputed waters in South China Sea. The President's statement is significant since he has avoiled riling Beijing for quite some time as he pursues warmer relations with China, since taking office in 2016. 

Will the situation aggravate?: Hard to say. Mr Duterte has clarified that his remarks were not a warning but rather a word of advice to a friend. He had also said he would not go to war with China because it would be suicide. Still, there are those who are concerned about China's growing influence.

If you are into tracking security matters, you wouldn’t want to miss our Speaking of Asia columnist Ravi Velloor’s latest article, Shadow warrior’s worry over terrorism.

One reason why: Former FBI agent Ali Soufan says networks of white supremacists, Islamophobes and racists are evolving in a way similar to how Islamic militancy evolved in the 1990s and it is happening in plain sight. Read the interview for more.


Indians are outraged at media reports in Britain describing the jackfruit as spectacularly ugly, smelly, ugly and pest-like. Accusations of food racism and lazy journalism are flying. Meanwhile, in India, the jackfruit is becoming popular, given its purported benefits.


Singapore has emerged as the top digital society, ahead of US and China 

Tokyo court approves 10-day detention of Carlos Ghosn that his lawyer will appeal

Judge orders psychiatric test for Christchurch shooting suspect

Seoul declares national disaster as winds fan giant forest fire

Young Malaysians' support for Pakatan Harapan govt down by 20 percentage points

Hope you enjoyed this edition of ST Asian Insider. Thank you for reading and have a good weekend. We’ll be back on Monday. 

- Shefali