President Park Geun-Hye plans to re-prioritize school bullying on her agenda in response to recent suicides in Korean schools. Students spend long school days together within a competitive education system and bullying frequently surfaces as a result.
Korea’s KakaoTalk is a free multi-platform instant messaging app with over 70 million users (mostly in Korea). It’s available for free on Apple iOS, Google Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry phones. The app developers admitted to have been inspired by WhatsApp of the US but they’ve gone on to expand the design. It features a phone number based ID system where your contact list is automatically compared to existing Kakao users and matches are determined to be ‘friends’. KakaoTalk’s explosive growth and success derives from Korea’s quick adaptation to smartphones. Even the word ‘Kakao’ has become synonymous with chatting in Korean.
카카오톡 (kakao-tok) – KakaoTalk
If you’re living in Korea or have Korean friends abroad, you’ll find KakaoTalk to be indispensable. While it doesn’t necessarily do anything better than other instant messaging apps, you’re guaranteed to find other Koreans using it. I frequently travel and communicate with international friends and KakaoTalk sadly has no use for me. Instead, I spend most of my time using Apple’s iMessage, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and Skype. KakaoTalk does support mVOIP for making calls to other Kakao users, but the quality is very poor (especially when calling internationally). I also dislike the app feature that automatically makes every contact a potential app ‘friend’.
KakaoTalk has been in the news recently for several privacy issues as they had stored personal messages on their servers for up to 10 days. Currently, messages are stored for 5-7 days and they’re looking to reduce this in the future. Full story here. On March 6, they posted a notice to the app that there were further security issues and the Emoticons, Themes, and Plus Friend features had to de-activated until users installed a new version of the app.
NHN’s Line is another popular Korean messaging app with over 100 million users globally.
네이버 (neibeo) – Naver, also a Korean language search engine and portal site 네이버라인 (neibeo-ra-in) – Naver Line
Emoticons are an important part of text messages and emails in Korea. People use them to soften their words, express emotion, and generally find polite and indirect ways of asking/saying something respectfully. We’ve covered some of the Korea ones-see examples below. These can be written using Korean or English letters.
TT – eyes crying (describing a sad situation)
^^ – eyes up (making something seem light or expressing happiness-useful for asking someone to do something for you)-similar to 🙂
OTL-from the left side, the O is a head touching the floor, T is the body with hands to the floor, and L is the legs kneeling. Means you are banging your head on the ground when you feel frustrated or disappointed.
hh or hhh – Soft laugh (joking together with someone but not directed at either person)
Kk or kkk – When you make a joke at someone’s expense (about them) (k is supposed to be the sound of laughter)
For many Western adults, emoticons are considered childish or too cute, and except for the smile/frown/sly faces, they’re infrequently used. Check out this link. It’s supposed to be humorous, but I can honestly see a use for some of these in Western emails and messages.^^