2012년 11월 28일 수요일

There will be 116 red days in 2013 in Korea!

There will be 116 red days in 2013 in Korea!

January 1st will be a holiday, and March 1st (Independence Movement Day) is a Friday so it will be a 3 day weekend.

Some unfortunate holidays are still there. Lunar New Years will be on February 9th to 11th which will include a Saturday and a Sunday. Children's Day on May 5th will also be on Sunday.

Still, don't be disappointed as there are many more holidays coming up!

Buddha's Birthday is on a Friday (May 17th) so you will get to enjoy another 3 day weekend. Chuseok lies on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday (September 18th to 20th) so if you include Saturday and Sunday, you will be on vacation for 5 days straight! If you decide to take 2 days off before or after Chuseok, you will get to enjoy 9 days of vacation.

Last but not least, Hangeul Day (October 9th) will be a red day for the first time in Korean history.

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2012년 11월 26일 월요일

How to find a bf or gf on Christmas Eve

Christmas is a holiday to spend with your boyfriend or girlfriend in Korea. 

However this year, the singles will be having their own event. 

On Christmas Eve, singles in Korea will be gathering at Yeouido Park in Seoul to have the largest "meeting" in history.

The news is all over Twitter, Facebook, and other popular forums.

This entire idea has been started by a Facebook event page by "님이 연애를 시작하셨습니다 (you have started dating)".

More than 4,000 people have their status as "attending".

To attend, gather at Yeouido Park at 3 PM on December 24th. Men will be in white, women will be in red, and couples will be in green. Men and women will have their own gathering areas.

When signaled, you are to run towards the other side and grab the hand of anyone that interests you. If the other person holds your hand back, you are now a couple!

After becoming a couple, take a picture and post on Facebook to receive a very special gift sponsored by major corporations in Korea which volunteered to help out after seeing so much interest in the event.

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2012년 11월 25일 일요일

Can Kakao Page be the Korean iTunes?

<Image from Hankyung under certain conditions>

On November 20th, 2012, Kakao Company announced to soon release the following services:

  • Kakao Page: Contents platform on mobile
  • Story Plus: Business account for Kakao Story
  • Chatting Plus: Function that allows users to connect to various applications on the KakaoTalk chatting screen
Kakao Page is the world's first mobile contents platform that allows anyone to upload various digital content and market their brand. Through using Kakao Page web editor, one can easily create content, which can be quickly spread through among friends on Kakao Talk. Another unique quality of Kakao Page is the pricing structure. The creator of content is able to charge viewers any price. As Kakao Page becomes a channel for profit, Kakao hopes to see high quality content consistently being created and viewed on Kakao Page.

Story Plus will allow business owners to use Kakao Story without any limitation on the maximum number of friends. Kakao Story is now a representative mobile application in Korea along with Kakao Talk. Through Kakao Story's Story Plus, businesses in Korea will be able to maximize its marketing and promotion efforts with their Kakao friends.

Chatting Plus will allow Kakao Talk users to directly connect to other applications while chatting. What this means is that you can share a variety of content (e.g., maps, games, music, etc.) provided by applications registered on Chatting Plus through your chatting screen. Chatting Plus will enrich both the mobile communication experience by Kakao users as well as application developers.

Of all these three new developments, what draws the most attention is Kakao Page, which is the world's first mobile contents sharing platform. Whether Kakao Page will become the Korean version of the iTunes is a reasonable question to ask.

Status of iTunes in the market

According to a research by NPD Group, Apple's iTunes dominates 64% of the digital music market in the US (2Q, 2012) and 29% of the entire music industry (2Q, 2012). iTunes is also growing influence in the eBook market. iTunes now has more than 30% of market share in the eBook industry and is quickly catching up with Amazon. In the online video market, iTunes has 65% of market share. The dominance of iTunes is only expected to grow as Apple continues to release more iPods, iPads, and iPhones. By the end of 2011, iTunes contributed to 6.3 billion USD or 6% of Apple's total revenue.

Will Kakao Page take over the Korean content market?

So, will Kakao Page become the leader of the contents distribution industry in Korea? For now, the answer seems to be "yes".

1. 62 million Kakao Talk users

Kakao has a lively society in Korea similar to that of iTunes. The difference is that while iTunes primarily markets to about 400 million iOS devices, Kakao will be basing its services towards the 62 million Kakao Talk users.

Kakao Talk's market power has already been proven through Kakao Talk games. Kakao Talk games have recorded significant revenue over the months. On August, the first month of Kakao game's launch, 470 million won of revenue was earned, following 1.4 billion won in September and 4 billion won in October. There are currently 31 games registered on Kakao Talk, and 3 of them (Anipang, Candy Pang, and Dragon Flight) each have more than 10 million users. It only took Anipang 39 days, Candy Pang 28 days, and Dragon Flight 26 days to reach this many users, and their success proved Kakao Talk's competitive strength in the mobile content industry.

No other contents distribution platform in Korea has as many users as Kakao Talk. Just with its high number of users, we can easily predict that Kakao will be a dominant player in Korea's contents distribution industry. 

2. Mobile emerging as the major distribution channel for content

Until recently, most content was shared on personal computers. However with the increasing usage of smart phones, we can say that content will now be created, viewed, and shared on mobile. According to IDC, worldwide production of personal computers decreased by 8% compared to 2011. Furthermore, usage of web search decreased by 4% since 2011. From these results, we can conclude that the mobile era has now begun, and personal computers' dominance as a content distribution channel is to end. 

Kakao Talk's simplicity and practicality led to its success in the mobile world, and based on Kakao's expertise in mobile optimization, Kakao Page is likely to become a successful mobile platform with global competitiveness.

3. Strength as an open platform

Kakao Page is an open platform that will allow anyone to create, market, and sell digital content. As people continuously create high quality content to market their brand and make profit, Kakao will benefit from having such an active group of users. Such a way of operating the open platform system is similar to the way Google Android was able to quickly catch up to the iOS. 

Being an open platform is also consistent to how Kakao has always run its business. Unlike previous Internet portals that created content all on their own, Kakao cooperated with other IT ventures to diversify its services. 

It will be exciting to see Kakao Page grow with creative and extensive content developed by various users.

4. Easy to share 

Because Kakao Page will be connected to Kakao Talk, sharing content with friends will be easier than ever. Giving and receiving content as gifts is more personal on a mobile environment than on personal computers.

The gift giving platform on Kakao Talk grew by 93 times over the last two years from having 90 gift options to 9,000. How the content platform will grow on Kakao Page will be exciting to watch.

Kakao Page's limitations

However there are some obvious limitations to Kakao Page's growth as a content distribution platform.

Kakao's database is composed of names and the phone numbers of its users. Since its database is not based on users' IDs, there may be certain issues with viewing the purchased content on a non-phone device such as a tablet PC. Users may have to watch lengthy videos or read eBooks on their phones simply because the content is not transferable to other devices. This is a weakness Kakao has compared to Apple's iTunes and Google's Google Play.

Another challenge Kakao Page will face is Apple and Google's In App Purchase (IAP) policy. Apple announced in 2011 that any digital content to be distributed on an iOS application will be paid through Apple's own payment gateway, and the creator of the application will need to pay 30% of the price to Apple as a fee. More recently, Google has also announced a similar IAP policy.

When a content creator uses Kakao Page to upload content, he/she will need to pay a fee to both Kakao and iTunes or Google Play (depending on where you downloaded your Kakao Page from). This may discourage content creators from using Kakao Page especially if they don't find the fees to be "woth it". Kakao therefore is under a heavy pressure to show its users that Kakao Page's services will be worth the cost.


Would you use Kakao Page or its other two projects? Why or why not? Let us know through commenting below!

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2012년 11월 21일 수요일

3 reasons why you WON'T pay online in Korea

A Korean American friend recently came over to ask me to buy a round trip bus ticket for her online. The process was simple--you  pick your destination, time, and insert your credit card number. The entire process took me less than 5 minutes, but it took my Korean American friend at least 10 minutes to just find her destination on the website. I have had many instances of my foreigner friends coming by with their credit cards, asking me to help them buy something on the Internet. These people usually knew what they were looking for but simply did not know how to find the products, services, and tickets. Even when they knew the exact url of the product, they failed  in completing payment online. As a result, my non-native friends either had to bank transfer or not make a purchase at all. Before diving into the specifics of why foreigners will not or cannot pay online, here is a brief example of how Gmarket handles its foreign shoppers.

1. Gmarket features its website in English: Gmarket has its own English website. However, compared to the Korean Gmarket, the number of products are significantly limited, and types of product rarely get updated.

2. Gmarket processes payment using Paypal: To pass the local online payment barriers, Gmarket uses Paypal to process payment for foreigners. However, Paypal has two critical flaws that discourage users from completing their transaction. First, Paypal does not accept the Korean won. Foreigners in Korea have local accounts and receive their pay in the Korean won. However, since Paypal only accepts payment in dollars, foreign shoppers will be subjected to the volatile currency rate between the won and US dollars. Second, not everyone has a Paypal account. Shoppers will not want to set up another  account just to buy an item on Gmarket. Because of the reasons above,  foreign shoppers do not spend enough money, and this is why Gmarket does not invest much time on expanding its English site.

So why is Gmarket using Paypal which deters sales? Why doesn't it use another payment solution that actually accepts the Korean won?

Below, you will find top 3 reasons for what's stopping foreign shoppers from making an online payment as well as why Gmarket uses Paypal.

1. Foreigners do not want to install security and anti fraud applications

In Korea, 75% of online sales come from payments made using local Korean bank cards, and most foreign residents prefer to pay using these cards as well. Now, local Korean banks require the users to install various security and anti fraud applications, which are the first barriers to foreign shoppers completing their transaction. In most Korean e-commerce websites, after clicking on the 'Pay Now' button, a yellow tab will show on top of your page. The tab says in Korean that you need to install some secure pay application. For Gmarket, after that application is downloaded, you are forwarded back to the main page, and all the information you typed for delivery will be erased. Let's say that you patiently retype all of the information and click "Pay Now" again. Then, a pop up page will appear with a choice of banks. Usually, you will need to install another keyboard security application before you can further process payment. DealKo's payment gateway provider, Paygate, has successfully negotiated with most banks to skip the application installation process. However, KB, Korea's largest consumer bank, still requires security applications even through Paygate.

2. Most local cards do not have their payment solution in English

After installing the various security applications, you will realize that the payment gateway runs completely in Korean. There are times when the "choose your card's bank" page is conveniently in English. However, all pages after, including the pages where you need to type in your card number, cvc number, and a temporary password, are all in Korean. Furthermore,  each local card has its own unique payment processing system, making online credit card payment even more difficult for non Korean speakers.

3. Digital certificate required for online payment is not easy to get

Certificate for online payment is required for all local banks' transaction. For credit card and debit cards, a digital certificate is only required for values over 300,000 won. However for real time bank transfers (currently the most preferred method of payment by foreign residents), a digital certificate is required every time. Even Paygate is still in its preliminary process of negotiating with banks to not require digital certificates. Simply put, requirement for digital certificates  is not going to go away any time soon.

So what kind of payment gateway will encourage spending from foreigners?

Any foreigner targeting to start an e-commerce website based in Korea will need to look for a gateway that provides the following:

1. Local offerings: The solution needs to easily connect to all the important payment options in South Korea.

2. Strong local presence: All local authentication processes need to be supported

3. Customization: Payment Page needs to be fully customizable. There are already several payment solution companies that fulfill the 3 requirements mentioned above. However, the pitfall is that locally registered companies are still required by the Korean law to follow the authentication process laid out by Korean banks. In other words, these payment solution companies' services can only be enjoyed by companies based outside of Korea.


Before being concerned about online payment, you'll first need to provide products and services that people would want to buy. What I've realized through my time in DealKo, consumers will walk to the bank to transfer money if they want the product or service badly enough.

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