Very cool story. Just as our American teens and 20-somethings are staying connected through social networks such as MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook young people in South Korea are doing the same. What really mirrors the two nations is the fact that they too are using this means to learn more about their presidential candidates.
Their version is called Cyworld and was created back in 1999. There are other networking sites in South Korea; however, Cyworld has recently become #1 with approximately 20 million users daily. And just how successful is Cyworld?
…an estimated $146 million in revenue. (MySpace, by contrast, brought in nearly $200 million in 2006; Facebook a little over $100 million.)
For just a blip about Cyworld’s creation:
Cyworld, says its creators at SK Communications—South Korea’s top Internet provider—was designed to appeal to Koreans with its two-dimensional bubbly cartoon characters and bold graphics. Users exchange real money for the Cyworld currency of dotori, which translates as “acorns.” With it they can accessorize their own pages or buy gifts for others. The virtual currency has become so popular that it spills over into real life, too. Jung-Eun Lee, a 33-year-old Seoul-based reporter, for example, says her birthday gifts included dotori from her husband and Cyworld gifts from friends.
And regarding the political aspect of the network:
Not surprisingly, the politicians’ Cyworld homepages—known as “minihompys”—blend right in with those of their young constituents. The candidates design their characters—complete with virtual wardrobe; fix up their Cyworld homes; they even have Cyworld buddies who generally consist of their supporters. The candidates reach out to their buddies via messages, articles or save-the-date memos for campaign-related events. Another key feature: in order to register, Cyworld users must have a Korean national ID number, so candidates can be sure they’re connecting with genuine voters.
Read the whole story about Cyworld at Newsweek.com.