ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on July 9th, 2012 at 8:29 am

If The Korean Internet Wasn’t So Restrictive Would We Have Never Heard of Mark Zuckerberg?

This Korean-American blogger does make a good point about how Cyworld was way ahead of its time and wasn’t allow to reach its full potential because of the restrictive nature of the Korean Internet:

David Hwang is the founder of a blog called HwangC. He says while the Korean Internet can be light-years ahead of other countries, it is still light-years behind when it comes to how well it adapts to the global market.  ”When Cyworld was at its peak, nobody had ever heard of Friendster, Myspace, Twitter, or Facebook,” he said. “That’s because they hadn’t been invented yet. When Facebook came along, Koreans used to describe it as the American Cyworld.” He argued that if Cyworld, established in 1999, hadn’t been so restrictive, it would be the dominant social networking site in the world, and nobody would have ever heard of “that Mark Zuckerberg guy.”  [Yonhap]

Hwang also makes a good point about Naver as well:

Hwang believes that a Korean Internet exodus is inevitable not only for social networking sites, but also for blogs.

“At the moment, most Korean bloggers use Naver,” he said. Naver is widely considered the “Korean Google,” as it is Korea’s leading search engine that also offers multilingual dictionaries, blog hosting, and other similar services.
“Naver is very restrictive. Users can’t really customize their blogs if they use Naver. What’s more, most Naver blogs will only appear in the Naver search engine, which sorely limits the number of hits they can get,” said Hwang.>

You can read the rest of Hwang’s thoughts at the link to include how he thinks WordPress my blogging engine of choice is going to become the preeminent blogging software in Korea in the next two years.

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  • Dreamboat Annie
    6:49 am on July 9th, 2012 1

    Facebook allows users to choose from multiple languages. The Korean sites are only in Korean. If that’s all they want then that’s all they’ll get.

  • Teadrinker
    2:42 pm on July 9th, 2012 2


    Yes, and Cyworld even evolved since 1999?

  • Teadrinker
    2:42 pm on July 9th, 2012 3

    correction: and has Cyworld…

  • Son_of_Anarchy
    4:33 pm on July 9th, 2012 4

    My reaction to that stupid blog is: What The Hell Is Cyworld and its been around since 1999? I been in Korea since 2003 and I just learned about Cyworld 30 seconds ago!!! :twisted:

  • Lemmy
    6:12 pm on July 9th, 2012 5

    The title of this story is so confusing, I didn’t read the article.

  • John in LA
    6:24 pm on July 9th, 2012 6

    no cyworld, even if not so restrictive, wouldn’t have eclipsed facebook. the language barrier is the cause.

  • Son_of_Anarchy
    7:40 pm on July 9th, 2012 7

    #6 you from Los Angeles Or Louisiana, if you don’t mind me asking?

  • ZenKimchi
    9:01 pm on July 9th, 2012 8

    Many, many reasons why the Korean internet is stuck in that bubble. Another is that Naver blogs and their ilk don’t even allow copy-and-pasting, so Google can’t pick them up, people can put the text into translators, and they can’t even copy and paste addresses into maps. Naver also has a pay-for-place model where top search slots are given to the highest bidder.

    No matter how zippy and shiny the Korean internet is, it always fails because of integrity issues.

  • Denny
    9:25 pm on July 9th, 2012 9

    Before Facebook, there was Myspace.

  • ken leighty
    3:07 am on July 10th, 2012 10

    Just look at Naver’s version of Google Earth for Korea to get the true sense of restriction. Drive by any ROKA military base and it’s blurred out. The main gates, the walls, fences, etc.,etc..
    How stupid is that! Not like I can’t go to Google and get a view of the compound and surrounding area. And if I’m a NK agent, I’m just going to sit on a hillside and take my own pictures and such, or drive by a snap one.

  • Teadrinker
    6:55 pm on July 10th, 2012 11


    And before that was…

    And even before that were USENET and BBS.

    Social networking didn’t start with Cyworld.

  • kangaji
    6:51 am on July 29th, 2012 12

    They tried to develop cyworld for the US, Japanese, and Taiwanese Market, but you couldn’t connect your Korean cyworld account with your US one, whereas with facebook everybody is connected. So, your Korean friend tells you about how great cyworld is, then you try to go to but you get switched to or and you can’t connect with your Korean friends! Frustrating! That’s why localization failed with cyworld. Lack of connectivity.

  • Teadrinker
    7:02 am on July 29th, 2012 13


    Back in those days, there was not true internet in South Korea. It was essentially an intranet.

  • kangaji
    7:11 am on July 29th, 2012 14

    #13: What do you mean? I was able to get cyworld in the US back in 2001 before 주민들록번호 hell started. How was it an intranet?

  • Bobby Ray
    7:49 am on July 29th, 2012 15

    Kangaji, don’t pay no attention to that Teadrinker fellow. He is a big blowhard making all kinds of grand statements and then running away if anybody calls him out on it.

    I aint no network administrator but i dont rightly see how anyone could say Korea had an intranet back then. There wast nothing on the international side of the internets you couldnt look up. Heck you could even look at all the nakid ladies you wanted to. I reckon you could even visit a North Korean websites if you used one of them proxies.

    Now you might need you an ID card to use some of them Korean websites for doing your banking or looking up the latest boy band gossip but that dont make it no kind of intranet.

    Im thinking this here Teadrinker can add computers to the list of things he dont know nothing about. He sure dont know about dictionaries.

  • Tom
    9:12 am on July 29th, 2012 16

    What the hell is “주민들록번호”? :lol:

    Try again Kangaji. :lol:

  • Teadrinker
    9:32 am on July 29th, 2012 17


    Never tried registering to a Korean website with a alien ID number in those days?

  • Teadrinker
    9:35 am on July 29th, 2012 18

    …And I’ll have you know that I’ve been using computers since the 70′s.

  • kangaji
    9:46 am on July 29th, 2012 19

    Are you saying that 주민등록번호 hell was the reason why you viewed it as an intranet or for a different reason?

  • Teadrinker
    10:11 am on July 29th, 2012 20


    Yes, finally, someone who’s intelligent.

    That’s exactly what I meant. If you were a legal resident of Korea, even a permanent resident, you couldn’t participate in online discussions on Korean websites (anti-multiculturalism, xenophobia, or shitty programmers?). If I remember correctly, Cyworld was one of the first websites to allow foreign residents to register back then…but it took many, many, years, for a significant number of other websites to follow.

  • Tom
    10:23 am on July 29th, 2012 21

    Hey look, racist whites complaining about racism in Korea. Oh the irony of this. :roll:

  • Teadrinker
    10:26 am on July 29th, 2012 22


    Cut the BS. You’re whiter than I ever will be.

  • kangaji
    12:30 pm on July 29th, 2012 23

    I wouldn’t call it a form of racial discrimination. The idea was to tie an identity to online posters to cut through the wall of anonymity. It was just tedious having to give your passport info up to get a user name. I always wondered when identity thieves would hack into cyworld or daum or nate’s servers and point out the flaws in the whole system of throwing around registration numbers like candy.


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