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Publication Date : 09-03-2013
Internet and mobile platforms are enabling South Korea’s varied sub-cultures to push past physical limitationss
The online community era could be said to have emerged in South Korea in the late 1990s when local club-centric portals such as Cyworld and Freechal were introduced. It blossomed as portal sites competed for users with their own services, departing from traditional email and search services.
Naver, the nation’s biggest portal service in market share, hosted 9.05 million online communities in 2012, though its rival Daum boasted more than 10 million.
Web portals even encourage participation by offering support funds and souvenirs for online communities that hold real-life gatherings.
“Based on Korea’s community-oriented culture, the Internet generated synergy through online and offline meetings within communities. They mutually impact each other,” said Min Kyung-bae, a professor at Kyung Hee Cyber University.
“Online community services have enabled users to easily interact with other like-minded people,” said Choi Min-su, the operator of Naver community Music Band Association for Office Workers.
The music club is divided into 15 sub-groups composed of members for separate instruments - guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Kicked off in 2010, the community has collected 2,650 enthusiastic members in less than three years.
Each team meets on a weekly basis to practice, and the members keep in touch through the club’s website during the rest of time. They discuss which songs to play, share music videos they like and post housekeeping notes.
Communities on social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook, on the other hand, form differently than on such local portals.
“Unlike online cafes where people need to sign up prior to getting to know all the members in person, SNS-based communities tend to be built after relationships already exist in some form and the disocovery of common interests among people they already know,” professor Min said.
Automobile club Chatandang, for instance, was launched by accident when a small group of car fanatics were chatting via Twitter.
“It was only four friends sharing car-related talks, and now the number of club members has multiplied as power bloggers, reporters from automotive specialised media and officials from the car industry have joined in,” said Shin Sae-mi, the operator of the club.