KakaoTalk: South Korea’s Own Messenger App

Tue 24 April 2012 11:00, Vitto Christaldi

KakaoTalk: South Korea’s Own Messenger App

Here in Europe, most smart phone users use free messaging service like Whatsapp or Blackberry Messenger to chat with friends and family. In Asia, things are a bit different; especially in South Korea! In the land of 무궁화 (mugunghwa: South Korean national flower), they are using their own messaging service app called KakaoTalk.


KakaoTalk was founded by Beom Soo Kim in March 2010. Beom Soo Kim himself was the former CEO of NHN Corporation, the company which owns Naver, the South Korean search engine. The application is available for Apple, Android, Blackberry, and Samsung users.

KakaoTalk has in total 42 million active users; 8 million of them come from outside South Korea! Up to this moment, KakaoTalk has about 170 employees who serve 1.3 billion sent messages and 2.6 billion received messages. The received messages are twice higher than the sent messages because of the group chat feature on KakaoTalk.

KakaoTalk is has some nice unique features that distinguish it from other free mobile messenger applications:

  1. There is no user limit for the group chat. On Whatsapp, we can only have maximum 10 people in the group chat; on KakaoTalk, you can add as many people as you want!

  2. KakaoTalk has a feature called “Plus Friend”. With this feature, you can add your favorite artists or brands as friends and you are able to receive updates from them. So it is like having Twitter on a messenger app! So if you are a big fan of Korean artists, it is totally something for you!

  3. KakaoTalk cooperates with some brands to work on the feature “Daily Deals”. With this feature, users can purchase some interesting offers using their phone credits. Users are also able to send the e-coupon to other users. So let’s say your friend is having a birthday, you can surprise them by giving an e-coupon gift through KakaoTalk!

  4. Asians love emoticons; so that is why this messenger has lots of funny/cute emoticons. Users are also able to purchase more emoticons!

  5. KakaoTalk is currently available in 12 languages: Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese (both Traditional and Simplified), Thai, Turkish, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Portuguese.

  6. On Whatsapp, you use your phone number or Blackberry Messenger PIN on Blackberry Messenger as your username. On KakaoTalk, you create your own user ID; it is just much cooler!

  7. Next to all these features, KakaoTalk is planning to develop more attractive features; such as VoiceTalk and Game features.

Based on the rumor that I heard, KakaoTalk is planning to expand their product to more Asian countries, including Indonesia (and maybe also European/South American countries, seeing that they already have Spanish/Italian/French/German/Portuguese versions of the app!). I actually see some potential in this app; it could be big! But anyway KakaoTalk, I wish you 행운을 빌어요!

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