Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Links for Oct 2017

It's time for another link round-up. Stuff I was interested in this month.

Links for October 2017

Tech stuff

Lifestyle / Living in Korea

Society / Culture  / Etc.

Google vs. Korea: Net Neutrality at the international level

Bad News / Oops!

Video Links


Andy Tebay on Twitter: "For those in Korea, it appears that https://t.co/abTbI4VZ94 readings are finally back online again as of early this morning. @10wontips https://t.co/Km1XYXqgAs"

Gil Friend on Twitter: "Hey, k-pop fans: @gfriend is NOT the “gfriend” k-pop group. Please DON’T include me in your tweets. Thanks!"

10원 Tips on Twitter: "Alright, geez, I'll be careful. No need for the foul language. https://t.co/HgOXZZjxaV"

Thanks for reading folks. Happy Halloween.

Read more ...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Voice commands to activate Korean smart home speakers (Korean versions of "Hey Siri")

Korea is becoming obsessed with smart speakers. Of course there is Amazon's Alexa and Google Home in the US, but Korea already has its own large domestic smart speaker market. That got me thinking: iPhone users say "Hey Siri" and I say "OK Google" to my phone. What do Koreans say to their smart speakers?

Activating Naver Wave with "Sallyya!". Image: Naver

The best word I could find to describe this trigger phrase is 호출 단어 (call/summon word). Each of the major smart speakers utilizes their own.

I searched across a few online postings and pieced all the info I could find into this handy table.

Trigger phrases for various Korean smart speakers

How do I talk to my Korean smart speaker?
Smart SpeakerDefault call phraseAdditional call phrasesCall phrases (Korean)
Naver Wave"Sally Ya"Jessica, Janggu, Pinocchio샐리야, 제시카, 짱구, 피노키오
SK Nugu"Ari Ya"Crystal, Rebecca, Aria, Tinkerbell아리야, 팅커벨, 크리스털, 아리아, 레베카
Kakao Mini"Hey Kakao"None [Custom names coming soon]헤이 카카오
KT Giga Genie"Giga Genie"Genie Ya, Chingu Ya, Jaggi Ya기가지니, 지니야, 친구야, 자기야

I don't know how well or clear that table will come out, so here it is in image form too:

Korean smart speaker trigger/call phrases for Naver Wave, SK Nugu, Kakao Mini, KT Giga Genie

If you're unfamiliar, adding "Ya!" to the end of someone's name in Korean indicates that you're calling to them, sort of like adding "Hey, Sam!". So a lot of these end in "ya."

Each speaker seems to come ready to respond to a default name, but with the corresponding smartphone apps you can choose some of the available additional names, and most indicated that custom naming would be coming in the future.

"Janggu" (one of the Naver Wave additional names) is a popular Japanese cartoon character in Korea, and is the Korean name of Crayon Shin-chan. He has a distinct voice, so I wonder if the speaker can respond in his voice? I sure hope not.

KT's Giga Genie (Giga is the brand name for their high speed home internet service, and this speaker in particular is really part of an entire suite of home automation and surveillance) offers the additional names of "Chinguya" (Hey friend!) and "Jaggiya" (Hey dear!).

Chinguya is cute, but sounds too much like Doraemon. Maybe you need to yell it in his distinctive way. [Note: Shockingly, I can't find a simple clip of him saying this online!].

Calling your smart speaker "Jaggiya" sounds incredibly creepy. Imagine you spoke to Alexa like "Hey babe, order me some more mac and cheese." That's a slippery slope. Today smart speakers, tomorrow android sex dolls.

Korean Smart Speakers of 2017. Image: iREX

What can they do?

Most all of these can do the same things Google Home can do. Ask it any basic questions, and it can answer you. Weather, stocks, sports scores, currency conversion, news, etc. You can ask it to translate phrases for you, or even ask it to read you fairy tales in English! Of course you can also stream music from your phone to it via Bluetooth. Play silly audio games. Calendar integration. Find my phone. All the same stuff.

If you have the additional items for your home, as with the Giga Genie line, you can specify commands like "unlock/open the door." Kakao Mini can send Kakao Talk messages via your voice, and soon it will read aloud those you receive! Amazing! Wait, we just invented the telephone. Oops.

I've read that soon they'll be integrated with many more features, like:

  • being able to call a taxi with your voice command
  • make purchases, including groceries and media, auto-charged to your Naver/Kakao Pay account
  • order delivery food
  • get bus arrival info ("When does bus #214 arrive [at your predefined busstop]?")
  • etc.

To see for yourself, here's a real life demonstration video of some guy talking (in Korean) to a Kakao Mini speaker:

He plays some games like 20 questions with it, gets weather and news, sends memos to himself (apparently his "memos" get sent to his own account Kakao chat room). My favorite parts are when he asks it for a fine dust forecast and it replies correctly, and when he asks who owns Dokdo and it responds that DOKDO IS KOREAN, then he cheekily asks twice who owns Takeshima and each time she rebuffs him and goes "네?" like he's an idiot.

Update: While watching YouTube the other day I was shown an advertisement for the KT Genie speaker. The ad does a good job of demonstrating what it does and how it would work in an average day. It's portable, so they even take it in the car on a trip together. It plays the radio, tells the weather, tells travel times, plays games, etc.

My opinion

I can't say exactly, because I don't know anyone who has one, and I have no desire to purchase one myself. I can't see the appeal. Apparently I'm not alone in that:
Korea Herald | Smart speaker users report low satisfaction

I keep my smartphone on me at all times anyway, and it's already just an "OK Google" away from doing all the same stuff. Do I really need an additional device because I'm too lazy to reach into my pocket? And one that I'd only use at home, where I basically just sleep, eat, and watch downloaded TV? Having one in the workplace office, that can distinguish voices, could be a game changer ("Hey Kakao, email my file "Sales Report 1" to Bob"). But I'll pass for now, and give the industry some time to settle into just what we want these things to do for us.

Don't forget though that you can get the same basic experience as having your own Naver Wave simply by using the assistant feature in the Naver smartphone app.

Links for more information

SK Telecom's "Nugu Mini" (L)  - KT's "Giga Genie" - Naver's "Wave" - Kakao's"Kakao Mini" (R). Image: Chosun Biz

Here are a couple of articles (in Korean) discussing some of the pros/cons and real life use cases of these speakers.

And if you want to learn more about these smart speakers, a lot of English language news articles have come out already. I'll link up several of them below.

Naver Smart products with "Clova" AI tech. Image: Aju Daily

Naver Wave links

Kakao Mini smart speaker. Promotional Ryan or Peach figures available. Image: Biz Chosun

Kakao Mini links:

SK Nugu smart speaker. Image: Bloter

SK Nugu links


Finally, just for backlink and citations sake, here are the articles I got the info for the table from.

AI 스피커는 이용자가 음성으로 명령한 내용을 처리하여 특정한 기능을 실행하거나 필요한 정보를 이용자에게 다시 전달해주는 방식으로 동작합니다. 이용자의 음성 명령을 처리하기 위해서는 우선 음성 명령 인식을 시작하는 특정 시점이 있어야 하고 대부분의 AI 스피커들은 ‘호출 단어’라는 것을 사용하고 있습니다. 네이버는 ‘샐리야’, 아마존은 ‘알렉사’, 구글은 ‘오케이 구글’, SK텔레콤은 ‘아리야’ 같은 호출 단어를 사용합니다.
[출처] AI 스피커와 프라이버시|작성자 개인정보보호
NAVER 개인정보보호 블로그 : 네이버 블로그

한편 ‘카카오 미니’는 음성을 인식하는 AI 스피커로 ‘카카오톡’ 메시지를 음성으로 보내고 읽어준다. 이용자는 “헤이 카카오”라고 호출한 뒤 발신자를 지정한 후 스피커를 통해 곧바로 메시지를 보낼 수 있다. 이 밖에도 다음 검색을 통해 뉴스와 환율, 주가, 운세 등을 확인할 수 있으며, 라디오나 팟캐스트도 들을 수 있다.
AI 스피커 '카카오 미니', 개시 38분만에 사전 판매 완료 - Chosunbiz - 프리미엄 경제 파워

기가지니를 부를 때는 '기가지니' '지니야' '친구야' '자기야' 4가지 중 하나만 선택하면 됩니다~^^
지니야, 인공지능TV 기가지니 소식 : 네이버 블로그

그다음 스마트폰에 누구 앱을 내려받아 연결해 사용하면 된다. 누구는 팅커벨, 크리스털, 아리아, 레베카란 이름 중 하나를 선택해 이름을 부르면 이용할 수 있다.
[IT열쇳말] 인공지능(AI) 스피커

웨이브의 기본 호출명은 ‘샐리’. “샐리야”라고 부르면 기기 하단부에 녹색 불이 들어오면서 명령어를 인식할 준비를 한다. 호출명은 제시카와 짱구, 피노키오 중 원하는 것을 선택할 수 있다. 아직까지 원하는 이름을 지어주는 기능은 지원하지 않는다.
네이버 AI스피커 '웨이브', "아빠가 누구야?" 물으니…

If any readers have tried these out, let me know in the comments. I'd be curious about your experience.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lookalikes 3: Park Yoon-jae and Jimmy Fallon

Park Yoon-jae and Jimmy Fallon

Park Yoon-jae and Jimmy Fallon

TV actor Park Yoon-jae (박윤재) from the recent drama "Unknown Woman" (이름 없는 여자) looks like SNL alum and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon.

More on Park:

See more lookalikes here.

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Highlights from the Korea Internet Transparency Report 2017

This year's Korea Internet Transparency Report is out. As usual, the whole thing's a fascinating read. Here are some parts I found interesting. All images screenshot from their report.

Categories of takedown requests

No surprise that obscenity and prostitution make up the largest portion of takedown requests. Nearly 4% for portrait right violations is interesting. I wonder how many of those were due to photo studios or advertisers using models against their knowledge. Interesting that only 1% was due to leaked personal information. With all the netizen vigilantes out there [here and here just out this week], I partly suspected the number to be a bit higher.

Breakdown of obscenity and prostitution takedowns

Here's what you clicked for. Prostitution ads, despite how much attention these illegal online prostitution services get in the media, don't make up that big a chunk of the obscenity takedowns. Sex acts take it. "Others" likely include fan fic and erotic novels.

Origins of obscenity takedown requests

Despite the image of a bunch of repressed bureaucrats trolling the internet all day looking for porn to block and monitoring your every click, it turns out the clear majority of content is reported. Who's lodging the complaints? Maybe the casual viewer who finds something offensive, or maybe these guys. I didn't see a clear answer in the report.

Mediums and services that receive takedown requests

Just like the report says, interesting that more and more of the content being taken down (which, as the report goes into, can be one of various methods from blocking to deletion) is being done on SNS. We may halfway expect public explicit postings on blogs like Tumblr to get taken down. But SNS have the illusion of privacy. From what I've read elsewhere, it seems they might be referring to things like Naver Bands that are invite-only, where people share explicit images of ex-girlfriends and etc., but then a user reports it and the Band gets shut down.

Distortion of history

Last but not least. You make some outlandish claim like Dokdo is Japanese? You pay the price. No sympathy from this blog. #독도 #우리땅.

Go read the report

Go read the report for yourself now. It's a 50 page PDF, easy download, all plain English, lots of nice charts, graphs, and tables.

Here's their blurb:

The Korea Internet Transparency reporting team has published ‘Korea Internet Transparency Report 2017’ researching and analyzing the status of Korean Internet censorship and surveillance from 2014 to 2016. The Korea Internet Transparency Report project is funded by Google and conducted by the Clinical Legal Education Center (CLEC) of The Korea University Law School.
Publishing the Korea Internet Transparency Report 2017 – Korea Internet Transparency Report

🔗 Direct link to the PDF: http://transparency.kr/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Final-2017-Korea-Internet-Transparency-Report.pdf

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Korean government emails to Tumblr: you're becoming a "porn site"

For you addicts who can't get enough lewd content on Tumblr (I'm looking at you, certain Reddit users), you probably already know that the Korean government is on to you, and has been (unsuccessfully) requesting that Tumblr proactively remove and prevent such content. Several articles have gone up in English about it:

ZDNet Korea had an article up about it, rehashing the same basic ideas. But it also included this adorable transcript of an excerpt from the Korea Communications Standards Commission official emails to Tumblr about the matter. You may know the KCSC as the friendly folks behind those bold blue WARNING notices when you visit a blocked site in Korea.

Exchange between Korean KCSC and Tumblr. Image: ZDNet Korea 

Here's that text:

[KCSC email to Tumblr]

Recently, a lot of sexually explicit videos are being uploaded on Tumblr. It has emerged as a big social issue, Tumblr has been mistaken for a new porn site in South Korea.  KCSC(www.kocsc.or.kr) is working with Google, Facebook and Twitter in order to respond to illegal contents. We hope to cooperate with Tumblr, too.If you don't have a contact point in South Korea, please let me know other possible contacts.

최근에 많은 성적으로 노골적인 동영상이 텀블러에 업로드되고 있습니다. 텀블러는 한국에서 새로운 포르노 사이트로 오해받게 되었고, 큰 사회적 이슈로 떠올랐습니다. KCSC(방송통신심의위원회)는 불법 콘텐츠에 대응하기 위해 구글, 페이스북, 트위터와 협력하고 있습니다. 우리는 텀블러와도 협력하기를 희망합니다. 한국에 연락 지점이 없으면 가능한 다른 연락처를 알려주십시오.

[Tumblr's response]

Please note that Tumblr is a US company regulated by US law. Tumblr has no physical presence in South Korea, and is not subject to its jurisdiction or laws. Additionally, Tumblr is a service that enables broad freedom of expression and therefore hosts a wide variety of content, including adult-oriented material. We have reviewed the reported content, but as it does not violate our policies, we will not be taking action at this time.

텀블러는 미국 법률에 규제받는 미국 회사입니다. 텀블러는 대한민국에서 실제 존재하지 않으며 관할권이나 법률의 적용을 받지 않습니다. 또한 텀블러는 광범위한 표현의 자유를 허용하여 성인 중심의 자료를 비롯한 다양한 콘텐츠를 호스팅하는 서비스입니다. 신고 된 콘텐츠를 검토했지만 우리의 정책을 위반하지 않으므로 현재로서는 조치를 취하지 않을 것입니다.

최명길 위원 "'음란정보' 온상 텀블러(Tumblr), 방심위 협력요청 거절" | 정치 | 국회/정당 | 한경닷컴

The article also had this table of takedown requests for prostitution and obscene content. Look at that exponential growth on Tumblr in the red. Remember that last number is just up through June of this year. 

2012~6/2017 KCSC Prostutution/Obscenity Takedown Requests. Image: ZDNet Korea

Well, duh. Facebook and Instagram don't allow obscene content anyway, so no surprise for low numbers there. Twitter is hardly the best medium for posting dirty videos, but I also feel like those numbers mimic user activity on Twitter anyway. Lot of my friends gave up on it completely. I almost have done so. Tumblr, meanwhile, is full of XXX content, and not just for Korea, but generally. Seriously, take a look, and you'll wonder just how Tumblr isn't a porn site. It's more like Playboy's golden era: lots of liberal-leaning content and activists, and lots of gratuitous nudity.

I actually get what the KCSC is trying to do here. And this isn't new: it goes back nearly 10 years.

But if you ask me, if the government really wants to crack down, they ought to look closer to home. Tumblr is just where lewd content gets reposted, but a lot of that content is created, shared, and abused right on messengers like KakaoTalk and Line. Look at some of these stories of the past month:

All involve chat apps. This isn't just your horny 15 year old in bed at night. This is life threatening underage prostitution and exploitation. It's not on a screen. It happens to real people, often runaway teen girls.

Chat rooms and Bands are the lifeblood of  these kind of illegal underage sex crimes. I'm not saying all chats should be monitored, or that I've got the answers. I'm just some guy with a blog. But if the goal is to reduce the real world harm of prostitution and porn, then maybe the energy associated with this latest Tumblr crusade should be refocused where it really counts.

Finally I can't talk about Tumblr without a nod to the old Posts from Dokdo. Maybe I should reactivate that thing. Nah.

Update: See too this article from Korea Expose coincidentally put up around the same time as this post.
🔗 "There could be one of you": S. Korea's Spycam Porn Epidemic | KOREA EXPOSÉ

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AlphaGo that beat Lee Sedol now beaten by... AlphaGo... 100:0

Quick note if you missed this: the Google DeepMind team now has AlphaGo Zero. This new AI learned Go from scratch, and is badass. They had it play against the same version of AlphaGo that beat Lee Sedol last year... and it won... 100 games to 0.

Just to recap: that older version of AlphaGo beat a world grand champ human 4 games to 1. Basically we're all just John Henrys now, but don't even get that moment of victory before kicking the bucket. It took it 3 days of trial-and-error game learning to surpass the Lee Sedol level. 

Of course we already decided that humans facing off against humans is more fun. Sure, an army of Boston Dynamics monsters could probably school the Pats all over the field, but that doesn't mean human football has lost any of its clout. And some higher end animatronics can out ballet us. There's even a golf club swinging arm-on-a-cart out there with radar laser vision  something or other calculating the right trajectory and force for each swing and nailing holes-in-ones. We already ceded our physical skill to the machines. It makes sense they'll beat us in strategy games. But games are games. They're fun. And humans fighting robots is really only fun at first for novelty, and then later in movies when they're trying to terminate us. Now that will be the match to keep an eye on. Meanwhile we're still waiting on the supposed breakthroughs in medicine and science that system runners like AlphaGo's keep promising. That's my ten won, anyway.

Check out more on AlphaGo Zero here:

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Naver Maps coming in English for 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics

I tweeted earlier about how Naver Maps (and Kakao Map) will release full English versions of their apps coinciding with the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics:

Naver intends to release an English version of its map app at an unspecified date, and will build on user feedback to also release a Chinese version. Kakao will likely release an English version in December, and will also upgrade its Kakao Navi to provide voice navigation in English.
Naver, Kakao to Release English Map Apps Ahead of Upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics | Be Korea-savvy

That article seems to be citing a Korean-language Yonhap News article source, which was actually the only article I could seem to find about this. And that quoted paragraph you just read above is literally all the info that's public right now, as far as I can tell. So stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's a nice thorough English guide to using Naver Maps:
🔗 [S. Korea] How to Use Naver/Daum Maps to Find the Fastest Route to Arcade Stream (or Anywhere) | Smashboards

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Naver Blogs get new Instagram style theme on mobile

Title says it all. Naver Blogs has a new theme called Album View that makes users' blog posts appear as little square thumbnail images that coincidentally mimics the look of Instagram.

Naver Blogs Album View. Image: Naver

I actually really like it. It's like an refreshed, updated version of Google Blogger's "Flipcard" or "Snapshot" dynamic templates. They have another one too for writing-focused blogs. Click the link in the picture caption if you're interested.

Naver has done a good job of keeping blogging relevant in Korea. Some people criticize Koreans' reliance on blogs for information, but come on, like citing Wikipedia is much better, or that random thing some guy said in a Facebook group.

Plus, from my tinkering, most Naver Blog desktop templates are pretty bad. Mobile ones look good though, which you can set from the app, in much the same way as the Wordpress app. But nobody cares about this stuff but me so </post>.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Twitter shows a 달토끼 (Moon Rabbit) emoji for Chuseok 2017

Little bit late on this, but if you hadn't noticed, Twitter is now displaying a cute emoticon of a rabbit silhouetted in front of a full moon, to celebrate the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) harvest festival.

Examples of the Moon Rabbit

Here's an example from SK Telecom:

SK Telecom wishing you a HAPPY #추석. Image: Twitter

That's mildly funny. They're making a pun, which literally says "The thick rich smell of ham frying up... I'm sending you a happy Chuseok!" but "happy" and "ham frying" sound similar in Korean (햄볶 vs 행복, hambok vs. hengbok basically). Like I said, a mild and safe joke for a corporate entity to display. Throw in some innocent fresh faced male idols, and bingo, you've got a winning business tweet.

How to activate it

To activate it yourself, just tweet with one of these hashtags:

  • #추석 (Chuseok)
  • #한가위 (Chuseok in old Chinese naming style)
  • #보름달 (Full Moon)
  • #MidAutumnFestival
  • #Chuseok 

But do it quick, because this will only work from Sept 29 to Oct 9 so you've got three more days.

I did a quick check of the hashtag page myself just to look for another sample. Here's one from Virginia politician Ed Gillespie who clearly knows his state's demographics.

Chuseok well wishes from @EdWGillespie

Completely unrelated, but it was pointed out to me that until the recent Las Vegas shooting tragedy, the biggest lone-wolf type mass shooter in US history was in fact the Korean who perpetrated the Virginia Tech massacre. I didn't check the stats though.

Anyway here is the icon it is bringing up:

Image: Twitter

Why a rabbit?

You might be wondering: what the heck does a rabbit have to do with Chuseok?

Well, Chuseok is based on the lunar calendar so always falls on the full moon, and there's an old Korean legend that the features of the surface of the moon, when seen from Earth, look a bit like a rabbit making 떡 (rice cakes). See the comparative illustration here showing what cultures saw. Basically just like Westerners saw a Man in the Moon, Koreans and apparently several Asian nations saw a rabbit. See, Asians have been doing the whole cute kawaii/kiyomi animal thing for centuries. Boring Westerners and our bland ideas.

UPDATE: the Google Doodle shown in Japan for this Chuseok features the Moon Rabbit making rice cake.

Google's Japanese Thanksgiving doodle. Image: Google

From their explanation:
Today’s Doodle depicts the legend of ‘Tsuki no Usagi’, the rabbit who lives on the moon. Japanese folklore tells the story of the Old Man of the Moon, who wants to know the kindest animal. He disguises himself as a beggar and asks for food. The monkey brings him fruit. The fox brings a fish. But the rabbit, unable to find anything but grass, offers to jump into the fire to feed himself to the Old Man. Thus the rabbit proves himself to be the kindest and is taken to the moon, where he now lives. If you look hard enough, you may be able to spot his long ears as he bends over his pestle, grinding moochi (rice cakes).
Mid-Autumn Festival 2017 (Japan)

Other Twitter Korea emoji

Add this to the list of other Korean holiday emojis Twitter has been showing, including some I posted about:

Thanks for reading. Happy Chuseok folks.
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Cute Chuseok images from Kakao Friends

Here are six adorable wishing-you-well images for you to send to your Korean friends this Chuseok, courtesy of your favorite Kakao Friends.

Wishing you to spend each day of this Chuseok full of blooming happiness with your loving family!

Wishing you a spirit as bountiful (strong, healthy, bright, etc.) as the full moon, all the rest of the days of this year! 

Wishing all your desires/wishes come true this Chuseok!  

Wishing you a Chuseok as full/bountiful/plentiful as the bright full moon! 

These are all pretty flowery language, so I tried to strike a balance in my translations between accuracy and English understanding.

Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving, is a harvest celebration, so you'll notice the common theme among these is something about the bright full moon (upon which Chuseok is based). In Korea, the fall full moon is symbolic of a bountiful and plentiful harvest, so most of these are some variation on that theme. Personally, I think the last one is my favorite. For the most pleasant Chuseok, get stuffed!

All images sourced from: 
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