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Student feedback and expectation

At the end of this week, we will have time to summarize what we have learned. How was the lesson today? Did you get enough insight into Korean culture? Finally, …

Welcome to the course

Hello everyone, Welcome to the ‘K-Culture Studies’ course! It’s Ji-hyeon Kim and I am the lead educator for this course.  What do we learn in this course? ‘K-Culture’ is a …

This week’s introduction

This week, we will learn ‘Understanding K-Culture Studies’. The learning objectives are as follows: Contents Introduction to K-Culture Studies Learning Objectives Analyze the global impact of South Korean popular culture. …

This week’s introduction

This week, we will learn ‘K-platform economy and super apps (Naver and Kakao)’. The learning objectives are as follows: Contents The Global Digital Economy The Growth of South Korean Web …

What is K-Culture? Why do we study K-Culture?

The first video we’ll study is ‘What is K-Culture? Why do we study K-Culture?’. Click the play button in the video below to start learning. Let’s ask questions directly to …

Student feedback and expectation

At the end of this week, we will have time to summarize what we have learned. How was the lesson today? Did you get enough insight into Korean culture? Finally, …

Studying K-pop fandom cultures

1.Jogong culture /조공 문화/ If you are a K-pop fan, you may have heard about the jogong culture. But, what is exactly jogong? The dictionary meaning of “jogong” (tribute in …

General Guidance for K-Culture Studies

Each weekly session has a specific focus: Week 1: Understanding K-Culture Studies Week 2: K-pop and Fandom Studies Week 3: K-drama and the Globalization of Korean Popular Culture Week 4: …

General Guidance for K-Culture Studies

Welcome back to ‘K-Culture Studies’. Today, we’ll introduce you to the captivating world of K-pop, a genre of music that combines visual and auditory elements to create an immersive experience. …

What is K-Culture?

K-Culture is a short-historied term referring to South Korean popular culture. The term was first coined in the late 1990s,1 when various elements of Korean pop culture – from music, …

Sum up

The module ‘K-Culture Studies’ has provided a comprehensive introduction to various aspects of South Korean popular culture. It has covered topics such as the global spread of K-pop, the impact …

Further The K-platform Studies

Let’s not forget other important players in the South Korean digital platform scene – like ‘Afreeca TV’ and ‘Baedal Minjok’. 1) The case of Afreeca TV /아프리카 TV/ Afreeca TV …

General Guidance for K-Culture Studies

Welcome to the final episode of K-Culture Studies. In this episode, we will discuss the unique characteristics of South Korean social media platforms such as Naver and Kakao, and their …

The ‘portal saga’ in South Korea

In South Korea, the foundation for digital economy in which a business model becomes increasingly and fundamentally dependent on information and communication technology and Web data (Tapscott, 1996; Brynjolfsson & Kahin, 2000) was laid arguably when the former president Kim Dae-Jung’s administration took initiative to construct infrastructure for fostering such emerging technologies, with a view to resolving the IMF financial crisis from which the country was suffering (Kim, 2017).  The Kim administration pushed for policies to nurture start-ups (for instance, enacting the special Act for start-ups in 1997), and in conjunction with the then-worldwide financial trend to plough into ICT industries, it resulted in a craze for ‘start-up investment’.  The number of start-ups rose steadily from around 500 in 1995 to more than 10,000 in 2001; however, with the bursting of the dotcom bubble in the early 2000s, such investment over a decade ended up being a failure. In 2002, the government instead pushed for a ‘healthy policy’ that aims to restore and stabilise the market (ibid.).   Regarding the platform economy, what we should pay attention to here are the start-ups that managed to survive such a crisis.  Two portals – Daum Communications (Kakao’s predecessor company) and Naver -which were launched in February 1995 and June 1999, respectively, have created an oligopoly where South Korea’s information and communication industry has virtually been predominated by themselves to date. We can find the secret recipe of such success from their nature as a ‘portal’.  The portal, also called the ‘web portal’, refers to a default site built to pass through when users access the internet on the Web. This created a fierce competition situation inSouth Korea from early on. Initially, both Daum and Naver were focused on providing a search engine, games, and email service, but they have gradually expanded their business model and scope, adding a plethora of services encompassing not only online database and news (KDPC, 2006) but also cultural contents such as shopping, blog, webtoons and web novels, and more recently even fintech and AI-powered services (Naver, 2021; Kakao, 2021).  In fact, their initial business model was already diversified to the extent that they received commissions and part of sales profits from the content creators and e-commerce companies selling goods and services facilitated by their main platforms (Kim & Yu, 2019). This great success in platform-based businesses has been increasingly influential in the Korean economy.   Noteworthy here is that through pursuing such diversified business models, these two portal companies managed, from the outset, to collect and process data that were generated as a consequence of both corporate and individual activities. In other words, it laid the foundation for data capitalism as a system in which the commoditisation of users’ data enables an asymmetric redistribution of power that is weighted towards the platforms that have access and the capability to make sense of information (West, 2019).  Data has become ‘big’, as new users have continued to flow into the portals thanks to the network effects.  By the end of 2000s, Daum and Naver had already grown greatly, almost to a maximum possible degree in the South Korean digital economy and market.  To the extent that they first achieved a near-monopoly position in their core business and went on to expand their business through M&As and build a business model transcending specific industries, such process of becoming a ‘giant’ corporation may resemble a shift to a ‘ur-platform’, where, according to Srnicek (2017, p. 111), platforms take on a rhizomatic form of integration, as with the case of GAFAM, for instance. References: ● Kim, J. H., Yu, J., Sya, K., & Son, S. H. (2021). K-Culture Glossary: …