Twitter’s new beginning in Korea

Twitter officially launched its Korean service yesterday. Korean tweeters have cheerfully switched their language setting to Korean and analysis on the new changes and prospects was the talk of online venues.

Twitter's Language Setting

Evan Williams (@ev), co-founder of Twitter, yesterday tweeted twice in Korean, his first tweet defining Twitter as a ‘real-time global information service’ and the other message saying ‘Twitter is now available natively in Korean’, introducing Korean as its seventh official language.

Many Korean twitterers who had to use Twtkr and Twit bird instead of Twitter have welcomed the news. People retweeted the news, calling it a historic day. Some even tweeted the King Sejong, inventor of Hangul (Koreans language) would be proud of Twitter’s move. Today, more reports came out on what changes will be made as LG’s U Plus and Daum, one of South Korea’s most visited sites, have joined with Twitter Korean.

Twitter’s growth in South Korea is astronomical. Evan Williams revealed at yesterday’s press conference that last year alone Twitter’s growth rate in South Korea reached 3,400 percent. But several issues held back Twitter from fully functioning in Korea.

1. The Hashtag. It was not working properly in Korean, at least, compared to in English. IT blogger and prolific Twitterer Stocksos pointed out that the hashtag search was giving funny results in Korean and twitterers were forced to hashtag in English. Many have speculated it will somehow be resolved by now, but Evan Williams said in yesterday’s press conference that the hashtag issue remains still unclear.

2. The SMS. Sending SMS tweets via cell phone was not available in South Korea. But starting from yesterday, LG U Plus, formerly known as LG Telecom, made mobile Tweet service available to its users. LG’s UPlus users can tweet via SMS after adding #1234 before their message.

3. Help center. Twitter official website’s help center page is not yet available in Korean. However, new tweet account @dowoomi (‘helper’ in Korean) opened Tuesday and started tweeting from today, signaling the start of the consumer support in native Korean.

4. Web search and more web exposure. Daum has decided to affiliate with Twitter and experts believe it will widen Twitter’s web data in Korea and help Korean tweeters to get more web exposure.

Only a day has passed since yesterday’s press conference, but already a few bad comments came out. Several Twitter users raised complaints on the slowdown of Korean Twitter, claiming that after switching the language setting to Korean, Twitter tends to work slowly, so they had to switch back to English.

There may be several temporary, technical difficulties during the transition, but  as Evan Williams said at the press conference, “it is a new beginning” for Twitter in Korean and Korean tweeters.

(As for Twitter’s affiliation with LG and Daum, I referenced blogger KSG37‘s excellent analysis and South Korea’s IT specialist citizen media,‘s report[ko]. Bloter posted Evan William’s whole speech [ko] on its website.)