Wednesday, January 30, 2008

AsiaMedia :: KOREA: YouTube opens Korean site with dim outlook

AsiaMedia :: KOREA: YouTube opens Korean site with dim outlook: "Local competition and Internet censorship pose challenges for success of newly-launched Korean YouTube

The Korea Times
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
By Cho Jin-seo

YouTube opened a Korean-language version site Wednesday, joining the already jam-packed video-sharing Web service market in Korea.

The Korean YouTube site faces a daunting mission in competing against locally grown services from Daum, Pandora TV and Afreeca. Tricky censorship regulations and skeptical sentiment toward foreign Internet firms will also become a hurdle to success for the U.S.-based site in Korea.

'Korea has one of the fastest IT infrastructure in the world and the broadband penetration here is very high so YouTube will be able to fill the demand for videos,' Sakina Arsiwala, the international manager of YouTube, said during a press conference in the Hotel Shilla in Seoul.

It is a belated arrival for YouTube in Korea, considering it is already operating localized services in 18 other nations. Google, which owns YouTube, has been cautious about expanding in Korea knowing that many other globally popular Web services of YouTube's caliber have failed to win over the Korean market.

Since the early days of the Internet boom in the late 1990s, Korean Internet users have shown a strong favor for locally grown sites. For example, Google and Yahoo respectively have less than 5 percent of the search-engine market share, while Korean search engines Naver, Daum, and Nate continue to prosper. Social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have even weaker presences here though the latter hopes to open a Korean site in the first half of the year.

Recognizing the cultural and language barriers, YouTube's Arsiwala said that the Korean version will have locally-made content from seven local Internet, broadcasting and entertainment firms, including CJ Internet, TU Media and JYP Entertainment."

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