Saturday, November 24, 2007

[The Chosun Ilbo, November 16 2007] Critics Decry Naver's Domination of Korean Internet

Korea's Internet empire NHN is dominating cyberspace at an alarming rate. Known best for its portal Naver, the company is sweeping core online business areas like gaming, community services and advertising armed with a near-monopoly share (70 percent) of the Internet search market. It has seen its sales grow 70-fold over the past six years since it began business as a start-up in 2000. It's expected to post W900 billion (US$1=W916) in sales and W270 billion in net profit this year. At one point its market capitalization even surpassed that of Korea Telecom, whose sales are more than W10 trillion.

But NHN's explosive growth has the Korean Internet industry shaking at its roots. As NHN tightens its grip on the market, small Internet companies either become subordinate to the giant or are eventually run out of business. "Small Internet start-ups are being undermined at their foundations as NHN scouts and hires talented workers," said Ahn Chul-soo, chairman of the board of AhnLab.

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