Blog 4—The social media network you may never have heard of

As you likely know by now, Korea has become a very industrious country.  Leading technology companies such as Samsung and LG are Korea based, while Hyundai has built a powerful conglomerate in car making, heavy equipment, shipbuilding, petrochemicals, apartments, and shopping centers.  It should come as no surprise then, that a nation of technological innovators should create its own social media application.  KakaoTalk is an instant messaging app that allows group and 1-on-1 chats and file sharing.  The app functions similar to WhatsApp, and in the past few years has expanded to include Kakao Pay, for online purchases, gaming, and Kakao Mobility, a taxi service to challenge Uber.  Kakao is the must-have app in Korea, in use by about 93% of Korean smartphone users.   In a country of 52 million connected people, that’s a lot of users.  

For the young, Kakao Friends is a line of cartoon mascot characters, including Ryan and Apeach, who adorn everything from plush toys to phone cases, and can be purchased online, via your KakaoTalk app (of course), and from a chain of retail outlets.

KakaoTalk has even become instrumental in the response to the coronavirus outbreak in Korea.  The app can generate a QR code that includes the user’s identification information. Then, when visiting a restaurant or other business, patrons get their QR code scanned at the site. The details are then uploaded to the country’s national health database.  If an outbreak occurs in a particular area, any patrons in that vicinity can then be immediately contacted and sent for testing or quarantined.  This application, plus the application of a little common sense, has helped limit Korea’s COVID-19-related fatalities to under 1,300, less than one-tenth of Canada’s total.  

Considering Kakao Talk is available in a number of different languages, don’t be too surprised if you notice your friends ask you if you’re on Kakao. Korean innovation  has a way of quickly going global. 

Ryan, one of the Kakao Friends, does his part to stay safe. Photo courtesy of

6 thoughts on “Blog 4—The social media network you may never have heard of

  1. Great blog, Rob!
    What an interesting topic to cover that may seem so ordinary to you, but is so new to me!
    It will be interesting to see if this app popularizes itself in the western civilization as well.

  2. It seems like an interesting app however I am not a fan of tracking devices. I have nothing to hide, but I want to remain a “free spirit” and basically it’s nobody’s business what I purchase, where I have been. It is convenient, yes, but that is just another avenue for control and loss of privacy. As for the number of Covid mortalities compared to Canadian ones, I am not questioning Korea’s numbers but Canadian ones. I question everything as a concerned citizen of the world.

  3. Hi Rob,
    Yes, you’re absolutely right, I’ve never heard of Kakao app. I just Googled Kakao friends as I was curious to see all of this. I also saw that Kakao talk is available in 15 languages. Very interesting! Great, informative and fun blog to read! 🙂

  4. Interesting that there is a social networking app in South Korea that is more popular than the ones in North America. This is the case for most companies in the world, they may be international, but don’t cross over the barrier between North America and Asia. We have things like Subway, Walmart, and ESPN, while Asia has its own versions of those things. Their social networks are no different.

  5. Thank you for sharing. I am very interested in East vs. West technologies, and there is no question in my mind the East dominance is here to stay. Take TikTok as an example, an amazing opportunity for West to East opportunities to penetrate the market. We can all learn from each other.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.