UK, South Korea strike data-sharing pact

Time to bone up on Hancom Office, the productivity suite that's big in Korea – and nowhere else


The governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea (that's South Korea) have reached an in-principle agreement to share data across borders.

It's the first such deal struck by the UK since Brexit, and therefore significant politically and commercially.

It's also significant to citizens of both nations, as the deal means personal data can be shared for commercial purposes. That fact will doubtless challenge those who already find it a bit creepy that some TVs made by Korean giant Samsung display piped-in ads and can listen to what's said in their presence and sell the resulting data.

Brits were promised Brexit would be good for business. This may not have been quite what Brexiteers had in mind, but the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport nonetheless asserted "trustworthy use and exchange of data across borders is key to realising a more secure and prosperous future for our citizens, businesses, and governments."

The two nations also decided to "work together on the direction and improvement of data frameworks for the digital age, noting ongoing initiatives in our respective countries, such as the UK's National Data Strategy and proposed reforms to the UK GDPR and the Republic of Korea's proposed amendments to the Personal Information Protection Act."

It's unclear when the pact will come into effect – which is good news for those in the UK who may find themselves wrangling data sent from South Korea.

The Register makes that analysis because South Korea is one of the few nations on earth where Microsoft Office is not utterly dominant.

The made-in-South-Korea Hancom Office suite enjoys around 30 percent market share at home. The nation's government posts documents in the suite's proprietary .HPW, .CELL and .SHOW file formats, which respectively encode word processor files, spreadsheets, and presentations. The Register's Asia Pacific desk sometimes needs to consider those documents and does not enjoy the experience because they are not easy to import into Microsoft Office or open file formats - in our document formatting is are often mangled and South Korea's Hangul alphabet produces odd characters.

Hancom Office does offer an international edition but it doesn't handle .HWP files, presumably because they're so rare outside South Korea.

Any readers whose employers take advantage of the data-sharing deal may therefore find they need to brush up on their data-grooming skills. ®


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