|Total Online Population (000's) in 2012:||40,330|
|Percentage of Population Online in 2011:||82.5%|
There were 40,329,660 internet users in South Korea (representing 82.5% of the population) at mid-year 2012 (30 June 2012), according to Internet World Stats. (Internet World Stats, December 2012)
38.1 million people will use the internet in South Korea by 2013, according to eMarketer. This would be up from 36.1 million in 2009.
Internet users in South Korea 2008-2013:
- 2008: 35.4 million
- 2009: 36.1 million
- 2010: 36.7 million
- 2011: 37.3 million
- 2012: 37.8 million
- 2013: 38.1 million
(eMarketer, May 2009)
Online travel market
Seoul Tourism Organization has launched iTour Seoul 2.0, a free GPS-based mobile application, giving Seoul travellers instant access to all the essential information they need to navigate their lives in Seoul, all on the go. The mobile application is available for iPhones in Korean and English.
iTour Seoul 2.0 automatically identifies the user's current location and provides detailed information on the most highly recommended and popular attractions, shops, hotels, restaurants, and recreational areas nearby. All tourist information provided is within a 3km radius of each recommended area in Seoul. The application also comes with the handy iTour Seoul Map that lets users conduct searches on any location in Seoul and find the best public transportation route to reach a destination. iTour Seoul 2.0 also provides users with useful contact information for tourist information centres and emergency numbers, as well as convenient information such as the locations of banks and currency exchange booths.
The application will be developed for Japanese and Chinese language versions in the near future, as well as for use in other smartphones like the Android phones and the Windows Mobile phones.
iPhones with the iTour Seoul application already installed are available for rent in several places throughout Seoul. It can be rented with a credit card or a 600,000 won (approx. $600) cash deposit. Using the iTour Seoul application is free, but calls made on the rental iPhone will be charged separately (within Korea: 100 won/10 seconds). Using other applications or the website may incur additional charges. (TravelDailyNews, December 2010)
Mobile / Smartphones
The wireless internet is seeing a rapid rise in uptake in South Korea; the number of users of both smartphones and tablets doubled between 2011 and 2012, according to a December 2012 report from the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA).
KISA surveyed 3,000 consumers in South Korea between the ages of 12 to 59 and found that smartphone penetration among this population rose from 39.2% to 78.5%. That is a staggering increase, which may be partly explained by the age of the consumer sample. South Korea has an aging population, and older consumers are less likely to use a smartphone; KISA excluded older individuals aged 60 and over from the study.
eMarketer estimates that smartphone penetration in South Korea reached 51% of the entire population in 2012, up from 38% in 2011. KISA put its data at a 95% confidence level.
Smartphone users in South Korea, by demographic, 2012 (% of respondents in each group):
TOTAL: 78.5%, up from 39.2% in 2011
- Male: 80.1%, up from 42.3% in 2011
- Female: 76.8%, up from 35.9%
- 12-19: 80.7%, up from 42.3% in 2011
- 20-29: 97.4%, up from 69.6%
- 30-39: 90.9%, up from 51.8%
- 40-49: 74.1%, up from 27.2%
- 50-59: 45.5%, up from 10.0%
Once they have their smart devices, smartphone and tablet users are not hesitating to turn to them often. Three out of five smartphone users reported spending 2 or more hours per day on the device. Even more tablet users are spending time swiping and scrolling. More than three-quarters reported spending over 2 hours on their tablets per day. (eMarketer, February 2013)
South Korea has been a historical leader in technology adoption. In 2010, broadband was already in over 90% of households, and the number of mobile connections had surpassed the country's total population. In 2012, South Korea is poised to outstrip Japan for the highest percentage worldwide of mobile phone users accessing the mobile internet, at 63%, according to eMarketer. That lead will grow until 2014, when South Korea nears maturity in the market and Japan begins to catch up.
Mobile internet users and penetration in South Korea, 2010-2016:
- 2010: 12.3 million (30.0% of mobile phone users)
- 2011: 20.2 million (49.0%)
- 2012: 26.2 million (63.0%)
- 2013: 31.4 million (75.0%)
- 2014: 34.6 million (82.0%)
- 2015: 35.7 million (84.0%)
- 2016: 36.4 million (85.0%)
Still, South Korea will remain the country with the highest mobile internet penetration among mobile phone users through 2016. (eMarketer, August 2012)
South Korea had 53.1 million mobile subscriptions at the end of 2011, more than one subscription per person in the country, according to a January 2012 report from ROA Consulting.
More telling, however, is the amount of smartphone subscriptions added during the year. The report estimated that South Korea added approximately 16.3 million smartphone subscriptions from December 2010 to December 2011. The rapid increase in smartphones led mobile data traffic to nearly double from 4,339 terabytes in December 2010 to 7,458 terabytes in March 2011.
Smartphone subscriptions and penetration in South Korea, November 2009 - December 2013:
- November 2009: 0.5 million (1.0% of total mobile phone subscriptions)
- December 2010: 7.2 million (14.2%)
- December 2011: 23.5 million (44.3%)
- December 2012: 42.8 million (76.2%)
- December 2013: 52.5 million (90.5%)
And the smartphone market shows no signs of slowing down. The firm estimates smartphones will account for more than 90% of mobile subscriptions at the end of 2013.
In the US, smartphones accounted for 38% of mobile phones in 2011. eMarketer forecasts strong growth in US smartphone users, but penetration will only reach 48.5% of mobile users in 2013. (eMarketer, March 2012)
The reach of tablets has more than doubled in South Korea between 2011 and 2012, although from a much smaller base than smartphones, according to a December 2012 report from the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA).
KISA found that the larger-screen smart mobile devices reached 7.5% of those between 12 to 59 years old at the end of 2012, up from 3.1% in 2011. The greatest concentration of users was among those between 20 to 29 years old (13.5%). Nearly every individual surveyed in this age range also reported using a smartphone.
The gender split on both devices skewed toward men. Males were 3.3 percentage points more likely to use a smartphone and 1.4 percentage points more likely to use a tablet. On smartphones, the gender gap actually narrowed as use rose between 2011 and 2012. On tablets, the opposite was true. The gender split widened as tablets reached a small but still exponentially larger group of consumers.
Tablet users in South Korea, by demographic, 2012 (% of respondents in each group):
TOTAL: 7.5%, up from 3.1% in 2011
- Male: 8.2%, up from 3.9% in 2011
- Female: 6.8%, up from 2.2%
- 12-19: 3.8%, up from 3.6% in 2011
- 20-29: 13.5%, up from 5.8%
- 30-39: 9.5%, up from 4.4%
- 40-49: 5.7%, up from 1.3%
- 50-59: 3.3%, up from 0.8%
Once they have their smart devices, smartphone and tablet users are not hesitating to turn to them often. Three out of five smartphone users reported spending 2 or more hours per day on the device. Even more tablet users are spending time swiping and scrolling. More than three-quarters reported spending over 2 hours on their tablets per day.
As smart device use rises in South Korea, advertisers will have more mobile ad opportunities in a country that already has high levels of mobile ad spending. In a separate December 2012 report from KISA, mobile device users reported that their preferred mobile ad was mobile web display, cited by 31.3% of respondents, followed by search, preferred by 24.6% of respondents. (eMarketer, February 2013)
UGC and Social Media
South Korea has a vibrant online economy, but it can often be difficult to penetrate due to a unique language and strong local culture of technology development. Google, Yahoo! and Facebook, three websites that have seen success across other countries in Asia-Pacific, continued to trail local incumbents in South Korea, including Naver, a portal and search engine, Tistory, a blog network, and Cyworld, the popular but declining local social network service. However, the landscape is changing. A May 2012 report from Nielsen KoreanClick, the local operation of Nielsen, found that Facebook surpassed Cyworld's reach as recently as February 2012.
Social media, including both native sites and global ones, is popular among a majority of internet users in South Korea. January 2012 data from Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) found the number of social media users remained fairly flat from 2010 to 2011, rising only 0.8 percentage points to 66.5% of all internet users. However, social media usage via a smartphone jumped nearly 30 percentage points to 31.5% in 2011, indicating a high incidence of existing users accessing via their mobile devices. Smartphone access is expected to continue to skyrocket this year, as smartphone penetration in South Korea is forecast to nearly double to 76.2% from December 2011 to December 2012.
Demographic profile of social media users in South Korea, 2011 (% of respondents in each group):
- Male: 68.0%
- Female: 64.7%
Total 6+: 66.5%
- 6-19: 78.9%
- 20-29: 89.7%
- 30-39: 70.8%
- 40-49: 50.8%
- 50-59: 40.8%
- 60+: 24.6%
- Desktop computer: 98.7%
- Smartphone: 31.5%
- Notebook computer: 7.1%
- Other: 4.3%
Unsurprisingly, younger respondents reported a higher rate of social media use. The survey found that highest penetration was among 20 to 29-year-olds, at 89.7%, in 2011. Males were slightly more active than females on social media, at 68% vs. 64.7%.
Common social media activities, however, may be surprising to people not familiar with the South Korean market. KISA found that 84% of social media users read or kept a blog, 74.6% participated in online communities (often organized by topics such as food, fashion and gaming) and 68.3% maintained a unique site called a "minihompy," which is a personalized online space such as a homepage or landing page that is associated with Cyworld specifically. Profile-based social networks (18.4%) and microblogs (12.8%) trailed the other three social media by a wide margin.
For now, South Korea still seems like a unique island when it comes to social media user activities and popular sites like Tistory. As users see the benefit of connecting with the world, expect local users to continue to migrate to Facebook and other multinational services. (eMarketer, May 2012)
Social network users in South Korea are expected to reach 22.7 million users in 2012 and 25.9 million by 2014, according to eMarketer.
Social network users in South Korea, 2011-2014:
- 2011: 20.7 million
- 2012: 22.7 million
- 2013: 24.6 million
- 2014: 25.9 million
(eMarketer, May 2012)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 10:36