Social networking in a globalized world, the Korean way – this is what Cyworld is all about. Cyworld networking is now part of the social life of Koreans who belong to a variety of groups – hobbies, college classes, geographic area, communities, company groups, sports, and other areas of activity.
The launch of Cyworld in the U.S. will soon challenge the dominance of existing social networks in the English world. Koreans in the U.S. can have their own ‘minihompies’ or personal homepage, with the newly launched U.S. version of the South Korean social network Cyworld .
In the U.S. version, ‘minihompies’ are called ‘MiniHomes’. An interesting feature is the user avatar (‘MiniMe’: representing each user). The cartoon avatars are charming enough, for people to spend real money to have them. Most of the charms cost about 5 acorns – which is the Cyworld currency, equivalent to US$ 0.50, which is 500 Korean won. Buying acorns with cash will not be enabled on the U.S site until next month. Americans are assured not to squander their acorns needlessly until June.
Cyworld was developed and launched in Korea in 2001, 7 years ago. Only a few people joined. By this year however, Cyworld has become the most popular website for different kinds of social groups in Korea. The key reason: easy to use, convenient and individualized features.
Cyworld provides convenient services which are standard features of a social network. In addition however, individual blogs (‘minihompies’) could be added. The users could “personalize” these minihompies with their own choices of decorations, including their own homepage music, color backgrounds and ornaments, to express their individual character (‘MiniMe’). A year ago, Cyworld developed a new version, Cyworld 2. The initial beta test ended just last month. This version has now gobbled up a tremendous number of users. Reports indicate that up to 90 percent of South Koreans under the age of 20 are registered in Cyworld.
With its user friendly, individualized features, Cyworld is expected to be the social network of choice in a competitive market such as the U.S. After some technical issues are settled, it is easy to predict that it will become the most popular and preferred homepage in the U.S.