South Korean web culture
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||This article possibly contains original research. (April 2008)|
South Korean web culture indicates distinct activities that South Korean internet users enjoy on the web. Most of the internet users are in the 13 - 50 age range. Most of the activities are targeted to teenagers and college students.
Just like other countries, blogging is also popular in South Korea. Post topics range from personal reflections on philosophical conjectures to simple everyday life stories. Some of the popular Korean blog hosting websites include Naver Blog, Egloos, Blogin, Daum Blog, Yahoo! Korea Blog, Tistory, and Textcube.com.
Instant messaging (메신저)
In Korea, the most popular online messengers include NateOn, KakaoTalk, MSN Messenger, BuddyBuddy, Sayclub Tachy and more. NateOn is known to have surpassed the usage share of MSN, now claiming the most number of users among messengers used in Korea.
Some search engine websites also provide "knowledge searches", which is an answer to a question that has been asked by another search engine user. For example, in Naver Knowledge iN registered users can post a question on any topic of their choice. Some users ask very personal questions pertaining to relationships and the like, since the user's real identity is not exposed.
When various users answer a question they are awarded a certain amount of points, the person who asked the question can then select the best answer and will be awarded points. This user can then ask questions on the website using the points that he/she was awarded. The users with most points are ranked daily with the option to display their real identities, if they choose to do so.
Cyworld is a hybrid between a blog and personal homepage. Although its primary prevalence is found in Korea, its influence has spread over China in recent years. Cyworld users range anywhere from elementary students to middle-aged adults.
Cyworld requires a person's real identity (Koreans: verified by Korean national identification number (주민등록번호); Foreigners: scanned school/state ID, driver's license, or passport) to become a member. Since all identity is usually truthful and non-anonymous, users often use this to seek lost friends from childhood or former classmates on the website, or make and progress their friendship by system that called by 'mini-homepage(minihompy,미니홈피)'.
Similar to blogs, many people share their thoughts and photos that other friends (called 일촌, il-chon) can comment on. A typical 'mini-homepage' features a main page, a photographic album, a guest book, and a personal diary. Users are given many choices for personalizing their pages with music, backgrounds, and even fonts. One of the major differences between Cyworld and blogs is that Cyworld is optimized for the users who prefer to write very short and succinct diaries. One popular personalized feature is the 'mini-room (미니룸)', where a user is given a single rectangular room to decorate with different objects. These objects (as well as personalized features) are bought with online dollars called dotori (acorn, in English). Every user is given a 'mini-me (미니미)', a caricature. Although each user is given a prototype, gender-appropriate figure, they liberally personalize these figures with a variety of dress and hairstyle options.
Web page usability
Most Korean webpages (such as weather, search engine Naver and news) incorporate Flash and images, preferably animated. Often text is substituted with images in such a way that in order to copy and/or translate it visitor has to type it manually or, in the best case, take it from alternate text of the image. The impression is that widespread broadband created a stimulus for web developers to write overly complex and rich web-pages, which can even make the browser work slowly (when about twenty pages are opened at once). At the same time, the webpages can sometimes in one aspect or the other deviate from standard: Naver is too narrow on some screens, some pages throw several pop-ups at the user, Google cannot translate introduction on Korean website because it's all in images, etc.