Thursday, January 20, 2011

Twitter Now Available in Hangul 트위터 한국어 서비스 시작

As reported in the Joongang Daily and widely noted elsewhere, Twitter has launched a Korean-language service, with some fanfare.  The co-founder of Twitter held a press conference in Seoul to announce this development.
As readers of this blog are well aware, I'm very interested in the role of language in Korea's remarkable digital development.  If you are new and doubt this, just do a search for "language" using the Search This Blog feature to the right and see how many entries turn up!  Or, consider the following.

  • South Korea is the world's most highly networked nation, yet it is also one of four countries in the world where Google does not have a substantial share of the search market.  Why?  Because of the strength of Naver, which is a Korean-developed, Korean-language-based intranet of sorts. (see one of many earlier posts).
  • Language was a major factor in explaining the long-delayed arrival of the Apple iPhone in the South Korean market.  In important respects, it is only because of the "iPhone shock" or, more broadly the "smartphone shock" that Facebook and Twitter are gaining market share here.  However, Cyworld remains by far the dominant social networking service in the Korean market, in no small part because it is a Korean-language service, designed from the ground up for a Korean market.
Despite the phenomenal growth of the internet and the emergence of "smart" digital media, language remains a basic element of communication flows and patterns, and nowhere is this more evident than inside Korea and among Koreans worldwide.  The surprising element is that so many non-Korean companies actually think they can succeed in Korea while using only English or other languages.

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