Sunday, December 24, 2017

Naver Christmas card maker

Naver has a cute and simple doodle maker mini-site up that let's you draw a Christmas wreath to share.

Here's one I threw together real quick. 

Here's the site:
네이버 크리스마스 카드 (Naver Christmas Card) 

Just visit the page, and you'll get a wreath template. Using standard touch drawing tools, doodle on it to decorate it. Works great on mobile. Add a short text to it which will appear in the middle. When you're done, the parts you doodled will automatically refine themselves into nicer decorations. For example the bows above were just red dots and the stars were yellow dots. You can then download the image or get a link to share an animated version. 

Here's mine:

Cute and simple holiday cheer. Merry Christmas folks. 
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Friday, December 22, 2017

Top Daum / Kakao searches in Korea for 2017

Kakao has also released their top search terms for 2017. You can find the highlights over on the Daum portal, but I'll list them here in English.

For these lists, I won't bother doing a lot of commentary or explanation, since they're mostly the same as the terms on Naver's list for this year, so if you want some background I'd encourage you to check that post where I tried to explain them.

2017 Most Popular Search Terms on Daum/Kakao

Daum/Kakao's top searched Issues of 2017

The key search terms that showed explosive popularity this year.

  1. 19대 대선 - 19th Presidential Election
  2. 박근혜 탄핵 - Former President Park Geun-hye's impeachment
  3. 김주혁 사망- Actor Kim Ju-hyuk's death
  4. 포항 지진 - Pohang earthquake
  5. 가상화폐 - cryptocurrencies 
  6. 김광석 의혹 - Suspicions over the death of singer Kim Gwang-suk
  7. 세월호 인양 - Salvaging of the Sewolho ferry
  8. 육군대장 부인 갑질 - Abuse of authority by an army general's wife
  9. 살충제 계란 파동 - Pesticides found in eggs
  10. 최저 임금 인상 - Minimum wage hike

Overall top searches of 2017

Daum/Kakao's Overall Top Searches of 2017

Just pure by the numbers, so lots of everyday queries and searches for sites.

  1. 네이버 - Naver
  2. 날씨 - weather
  3. 유튜브 - YouTube
  4. 로또 당첨번호 - Winning lottery numbers
  5. 구글 - Google
  6. 농협 인터넷 뱅킹 - Nonhyub internet banking
  7. 환율 - currency exchange rates
  8. 지도 - maps
  9. 국민은행 - Kookmin Bank
  10. 우리은행 - Woori Bank

2017 Most Searched People

Daum/Kakao's Most Searched People 2017

  1. 문재인 - President Moon Jae-in
  2. 박근혜 - Former President Park Geun-hye
  3. 안철수 - Ahn Cheol-soo (People's Party chairman)
  4. 송혜교 - Song Hye-kyo (actress and half of the "Song Song couple")
  5. 워너원 - Wanna One (idol group)
  6. 김주혁 - Kim Ju-hyuk (deceased actor)
  7. 방탄소년단 - BTS (K-pop boy group)
  8. 이재명 - Lee Jae-myung (Mayor of Seongnam and presidential candidate)
  9. 홍준표 - Hong Jung-pyo (Liberty Korea party and presidential candidate)
  10. 송중기 - Song Joong-ki (actor and other half of Song Song couple)

2017 Top Searched TV Shows

Daum/Kakao's Top Searched TV Programs 2017

  1. 도깨비 - tvN's "Dokebi" ("Goblin")
  2. 이그것이 알고 싶다 - SBS's "I Want To Know," or "We Want to Know the Truth," or "The Its Know It"
  3. 복면가왕 - MBC's "Masked Singer" 
  4. 언니는 살아있다 - SBS's "Band of Sisters"
  5. JTBC 뉴스룸 - JTBC Newsroom
  6. 황금빛 내인생 - KBS's "My Golden Life"
  7. 팬텀싱어 - JTBC's "Phantom Singer"
  8. 역적 백성을 훔친 도적 - MBC's "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People"
  9. 아버지가 이상해 - Father is Strange
  10. 피고인 - The Defendant 

Top Searched Movies 2017

Daum/Kakao's Top Searched Movies 2017

The names are often different in English and Korean, so I'm just listing these movie's official English names even though you may better know them by the Korean names.

  1. 택시운전사 - Taxi Driver
  2. 군함도 - Battleship Island
  3. 더 킹 - The King
  4. 남한산성 - The Fortress 
  5. 공조 - Confidential Assignment
  6. 노무현입니다 - Our President 
  7. 범죄도시 - The Outlaws
  8. 옥자 - Okja
  9. 라라랜드 - La La Land
  10. 박열 - Anarchist from Colony


Again, I encourage you to check out the Naver version of this list for some background and commentary on these terms. I just didn't want to repeat the same things in this post for the same basic set of search terms
And you might be interested in some other top lists for this year:
Or other lists here:10원 Tips: Years in Review

Read more ...

Monday, December 18, 2017

Top Naver searches in Korea for 2017

Naver has released their list of Top Search Terms for 2017 (2017년 네이버 최다 검색어 순위). Because Naver is the dominant search engine in Korea, it gives you a decent idea of what issues (and daily lifestyle items) were popular in South Korea in 2017.

I've gone through and reprinted them in an easier to read format, translated them to English, and offered explanations and commentary, including links to further English-language news where available. Hopefully my commentary gives you some laughs and a good sense of what real Koreans were really searching on real Naver during 2017. 

Naver Top Rising Search Terms 2017

These are the search terms that dramatically rose in popularity this year. Not only does this better reflect the 2017 year, but removes the junk searches that would otherwise dominate (like searches for "weather" or "news" etc.)

  1. 김주혁
    Kim Joo-hyuk

    The "Hugh Grant" of Korea, Kim was a well-liked and warm-hearted actor and near constant fixture in movies and TV. Looks like a "dandy" but due to his goofy nature was the left in the "corner" (jokingly) on 1박 2일 where he was a regular. He tragically passed away this year in a car accident.
  2. 리니지m
    Lineage M

    Mobile version release of a popular fantasy MMORPG game. Bit like Starcraft but with knights in armor or something. It racked up massive profits for its parent company NCSoft.
  3. 프로듀스101시즌2
    Produce 101 Season 2

    Popular music reality competition show on Mnet channel. Season 1 featured all female contestants and gave rise to I.O.I. (clever play on 101). But this year it was the boys' turn, with the final group denoted as "Wanna One" (even cleverer play on 101). Kang Daniel who features elsewhere on this list was a member.
  4. 도깨비

    Highly popular (both domestic and internationally) TV drama about a guy who is supposed to die, but because of love he can't yet, so he just lives for centuries with the sword (now ghostly) stuck in him until he hooks up with a high school girl who's really his bride and who happens to live with the Grim Reaper. You know, typical K-Drama drama. Aside from the heart-throb romance of Gong Yoo this show was responsible for a huge boom in Koreans' interest in Quebec.
  5. 문재인
    Moon Jae-in

    Current president of South Korea after winning a special election after the downfall of previous president Park Geun-hye. Moon was sworn-in in May of this year, marking the first liberal president since 2008.
  6. 강다니엘
    Kang Daniel

    Member of the Produce 101 spinoff group "Wanna One" and explosive heart-throb. Imagine the perfect K-pop boy band member look of the 2017 era, and you'll picture him. Arguably the most popular contestant and member, his real name was apparently Kang Ui-geun but for stardom he went with his baptismal name Daniel. It payed off. Even the US Embassy tweeted support for him.
  7. 언니는살아있다
    Band of Sisters (literally "Older Sister Still Lives!")

    Makjang (melodramatic and over-the-top) drama. Women dealing with the hard issues of being women in a cruel world. Honestly I never saw a single episode. Not my thing. But it was so massively popular among certain demographics that SBS scrapped the original plan of a 40 episode run and pumped it up to 68. They had to run 2 episodes in a row on Saturdays just to satisfy viewers. Check the K-drama sites for more details (here, here). Featured Sistar ("Touch My Body" group) member Dasom looking good.
  8. 쌈마이웨이
    Fight for My Way
    (from contracted 싸움 "fight/conflict" and Koreanization of "my way")
    Romantic comedy drama that tried to be funny but in awkward ways (think fart jokes and other "realism" moments). Tried so hard to break the makjang mold that it became literally just a try-hard drama. So my buddy says. More geared towards the 20 somethings. Good to see Reply 1988's Ahn Jae-Hong still getting roles. Always thought he was underappreciated. Also featured Kim Jiwon from last year's smash hit Descendants of the Sun.
  9. 아이유

    Perennially popular singer IU was back this year with a new album which featured several collaborations with well known singers, and which won "Album of the Year" at the Melon music awards. Her music video for the song "Pallete" reached #3 of YouTube's Most Popular videos for Korea this year.
  10. 워너원
    Wanna One

    The K-pop boy group formed by the finalists of this year's season of Produce 101. Kang Daniel (who made the top search term list) was a member.
  11. 안철수
    Ahn Cheol Soo

    Entrepreneur-doctor-politician Ahn threw his hat in the ring again during this year's presidential election to replace ousted Park Geun-Hye, but lost to Moon Jae-in. Although he started strong, his performance in the debates floundered as he failed to toe the line between sounding strong and sounding childish. Interesting not a lot in English mentions that opinion. Maybe I'm surrounded by too many conservatives. He founded and led the "People's Party" which is now about to fracture.  Though I'll most remember him this year for him and Trump being school chums.
  12. 아이폰8
    iPhone 8

    The device sold well but not spectacularly in Korea this year. It was priced around 950,000 won.
  13. 아버지가이상해
    Father is Strange

    KBS2 drama about family. Basic K-drama. Just go to Soompi because I don't watch these kinds of things. See here, here, here. Featured the "Korean Meryl Streep" Kim Hae-sook who while definitely getting up there in age is still a powerhouse actress appearing in more shows than I can count. Also had boyband MBLAQ member Lee Joon.
  14. 류현진
    Hyun-jin Ryu

    Korean baseball pitcher currently with the LA Dodgers. Had a decent season. His contract expires next year so it will be interesting to see where he goes from there. I don't follow baseball much so I'm not the guy to comment about Ryu.
  15. 군함도
    Battleship Island

    Blockbuster historically-based movie about the Koreans forced into labor by the Japanese during WWII in the mining camp island that you probably noticed as the bad guy's island fortress in Skyfall. Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan who also did the fantastic "Veteran" (👍 from me, great flick). Featured another former "Descendants of the Sun" star Song Joong-ki. Also had Hwang Jung-min from Veteran and multiple other recent blockbusters. I didn't see this one sadly. Got plenty of international English press (here, here, here, here).
  16. 빗썸

    Popular Korean cryptocurrency exchange, dealing in bitcoin and various other cryptocurrencies. One of the "big 4" in Korea along with Korbit, Coinone, and UPbit. Oh yeah, and they were massively hacked. Oops. Sidenote: I don't get the whole bitcoin speculation excitement. I know guys who are throwing away savings or going into debt to run mining rigs, because "free money!" I'm sure some guys are getting rich off of this, but all I see are zombies who are so sure about this it feels like they're pitching me a timeshare in the Bahamas. Keep your nose down and your wallet in your pocket, I say.
  17. 피고인
    The Defendant

    Thriller drama from SBS that was apparently so popular it reached nearly 30% viewership. Had a good twisty plot but I didn't see it.
  18. 갤럭시s8
    Galaxy S8

    The Samsung smartphone was released this year. Apparently Korean buyers could get a DeX dock along with it, which aims to let you dock the phone into a monitor/keyboard set-up and basically use it as your main computing device in addition to being able to carry it in your pocket. I'm curious, but after trying a Chromebook, I'm convinced full desktop/laptop OSes are going to stick around awhile more.
  19. 북한
    North Korea

    There was plenty to be terrified and fascinated about this year regarding North Korea. From their threat to nuke Guam and the resulting issuance of "what to do in the event of an attack" brochures to the amazing story of the defector who risked it all for Chocopies and K-pop girls. He apparently said literally "여기가 남쪽이 맞느냐. 남한 노래가 듣고 싶다" ("This is the south, right? I wanna hear some South Korean songs" but of course he calls SK "남한").
  20. 초미세먼지
    Ultra-fine dust

    A few days this year were pretty bad for fine dust pollution. As usual, there was debate over how much is caused domestically vs. from China.

Naver 2017 Top Search Terms by Month

  1. January - 도깨비

    (TV drama from above)
  2. February - 피고인
    (TV drama from above)
  3. March - 박근혜
    Park Geun Hye

    Her impeachment appeal was rejected in March and she was sent back to prison.
  4. April - 북한
    North Korea

    They conducted another missile test in April
  5. May - 프로듀스101시즌2
    Produce 101 Season 2

    (TV reality music competition from above)
  6. June - 탑

    The Big Bang member was caught smoking marijuana and lightly sentenced. The girl he was lighting up with, an armcandy K-pop "trainee" named Han Seo Hee, was subsequently catapulted to Instagram stardom where somehow her opinions on feminism are popular tabloid fodder.
  7. July - 아이돌성폭행
    Idol rape

    A woman came forward with allegations of rape while drinking with a certain member of a popular K-pop boyband. This was a twisted story where drinking all night led to sleeping with one guy, while waking up next to another guy. This broke in July to much sensation but eventually the case was repealed. Obviously online debate raged about the woman's sexual promiscuity and the rape culture and all those juicy battle of the genders issues. Rumors spread that the member was from Infinite but you know me, I'm not going to spread that nonsense by repeating it here. Viral stories like this always make it hard to know what was fact and what was rumor.
  8. August - 최준희
    Choi Juniel

    Daughter of tragic actress Choi Jin-shil. She was in the news this month after allegations that her grandmother, who raised her after the suicide of her mother, was abusive to her. Those allegations turned out to be false, but nonetheless she moved in with female comedian Lee Young-ja, who was one of her mother's closest friends. Juniel has aspirations of being a popular singer, but it hasn't quite worked out well. Although she's got a bit of a attention-seeking streak, you can hardly blame her, and most people don't. Seriously, go down the rabbit hole of just absolute tragedy after tragedy in that family, and you'll take pity on her too.
  9. September - 부산여중생폭행
    Busan middle school girls assult

    A viral news story about a group of female bullies who severely beat a classmate, sensationalized by CCTV footage that captured it and absolutely awful photos from the hospital of the victim's face. Plus some felt the case was bungled as the bullies were already known psychopaths basically. This case led to plenty of online debate about whether the removal of corporal punishment in Korean schools has contributed to this kind of out of control behavior.
  10. October - 김주혁
    Kim Joo-hyuk

    Actor who died in car crash (discussed above)
  11. November - 지진

    A surprisingly large earthquake struck near the city of Pohang this year, just days before the Korean CSAT test, causing it to be unprecedentedly delayed a week.

Naver Top Mobile Searches 2017

This list is just pure raw accurate numbers. The most searched keywords period. So you'll notice the overwhelming majority are just basic queries ("weather" or "exchange rates" or "movies") which return Naver onebox results, or else just people trying to get to other sites (especially YouTube, but also, awkwardly, other portals like Google, Daum, or Nate... ouch, but to be fair I'm sure "Naver" makes up a huge portion of Korean Google searches too). Queries related to weather make up the bulk of mobile searching. Not surprising there.

  1. 날씨 - Weather
  2. 유튜브 - YouTube
  3. 페이스북 - Facebook
  4. 로또 - Lotto (sales apparently reached 13-year high)
  5. 구굴 - Google
  6. 전국날씨 - Nationwide weather
  7. 미세먼지 - Fine dust
  8. 다음 - Daum
  9. 길찾기 - Directions
  10. 환율 - Currency exchange rates
  11. 오늘의 운세 - Today's fortune/horoscope
  12. 그것이알고싶다 - "I Want to Know About That" but for some reason called "The Its Know" or "We Want To Know The Truth" in English. A TV show that looks at politics, society, etc. This show is amazing mainly for the dramatic format and the way nearly any topic starts to feel like a mysterious conspiracy theory. Think Dateline meets Unsolved Mysteries. It airs Saturdays at 11pm which should tell you something right there. Some of their investigations are informative and interesting, especially this year with various political and sex scandals. I'm not sure which precisely triggered this massive search ranking. Any readers, feel free to chime in on this one. 
  13. 영화 - Movies
  14. 오늘날씨 - Today's weather
  15. 네이트판 - Nate Pan
  16. 이시각 전국날씨 - Current weather
  17. 네이트 - Nate
  18. 웹툰 - webtoons
  19. 지마켓 - G-Market
  20. 김주혁 - Kim Joo-hyuk (discussed above)

Naver Top Desktop/PC Searches 2017

Like the list above, this is just raw numbers here. You'll notice most searches are just people trying to get to other sites.

You may be thinking, "Why don't Koreans just type the URL? They are so lazy" in which case I would say that, for one, just typing 유튜브 into Naver (which already loaded in your new tab page anyway) is easier and faster than switching the keyboard to English and typing "". But secondly, it also has the fringe benefit of reducing phishing, since you're more likely to make a typo or spelling mistake when typing the URL of a site that could lead you to a copycat site whereas searching it, even if you made a quick error, likely the correct legitimate site would be the top result. Hell I still Google "wells fargo" instead of trusting my browser history. Plus, you'll notice that's precisely why YouTube snagged both the #1 and #18 spots here (#18 is a common misspelling).

  1. 유튜브 - YouTube
  2. 다음 - Daum
  3. 구글 - Google
  4. 페이스북 - Facebook
  5. 농협인터넷뱅킹 - Nonghyup Internet Banking
  6. 환율 - Currency exchange rate
  7. 국민은행 - Kookmin Bank
  8. 쿠팡 - Coupang (shopping site)
  9. 롤인벤 - "League of Legends Inven" ( - Koreans are the best at contractions)
  10. 우리은행 - Woori Bank
  11. 신한은행 - Shinhan Bank
  12. 사람인 - Saramin (job search site)
  13. 11번가 - 11 Street (shopping site)
  14. 아프리카티비 - Afreeca TV (streaming video site, popular with BJs, mukbang, etc)
  15. 국민은행인터넷뱅킹 - Kookmin Internet Banking
  16. 멜론 - Melon (music streaming site)
  17. 옥션 - Auction (shopping site)
  18. 유투브 - YouTube
  19. 날씨 - Weather
  20. 위메프 - We Make Price (shopping site)

And that rounds out another year. You can also check out the corresponding lists for this year:

Or compare with Naver search results from prior years:

Hope you had a good year folks. 
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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Gordon Ramsay competes on Korea cooking show

Just in case you missed this, Gordon Ramsay came to Korea and competed on a popular cooking show called Please Take Care of My Refrigerator (냉장고를 부탁해) which is a bit like Iron Chef. After Ramsay did some endorsement advertisements for Korean beer "Cass" it was fun to have him appear on Korean TV.

Chef Lee Yeon-bok with Gordon Ramsay. Image: Soompi

Gordon Ramsay went up against Korean-Chinese cuisine master Lee Yeon Bok to cook for baseball player Oh Seung Hwan. After seeing, smelling, and tasting the ingredients in Oh Seung Hwan’s refrigerator, the two chefs stood side-by-side before they began. Gordon Ramsay asked his competitor, “Should I let you have a 10-minute head start?,” to which Lee Yeon Bok stated, “I will let Gordon Ramsay retire,” as the timer started.
 - Gordon Ramsay Competes On "Please Take Care Of My Refrigerator" + Helps It Achieve Highest Ratings Yet | Soompi

Soompi did a good job summarizing the whole episode pretty well so just click over and read about it there.

Meanwhile somebody posted the video with English subtitles so you can watch for yourself here:

Personally, I don't see what the big deal is having him endorse Cass. It's not exactly shocking that people do commercials for money. Are people upset that Ramsay's endorsement suggests Cass isn't that bad? Or that he's a big sell out? Either way I can't give a crap. Plus in some way he's right: I'm not going to sip wine while stuffing my gut with pork belly. Cass fulfills basically the same role as kimchi or danmuji or pickles. No need to get worked up about it. Hey, pay me whatever Ramsay must have received for this, and I'll go on TV and say that hongeo has a refreshing and invigorating bite.

Read more ...

Top Google searches in Korea for 2017

Google has released their end-of-year top searches for South Korea. Here are a few of the lists rewritten in English with some of my own explanations in case you're unfamiliar with any of the topics. Hopefully it helps you get a sense of what was popular or newsworthy among Koreans in 2017, and why.

Overall Top Google searches in South Korea for 2017

  1. 너의 이름은
    Your Name

    Wildly popular Japanese anime movie. A sort of romantic time travel body-swap story that was actually pretty good, and I'm not usually a fan of this kind of stuff. The idea of "fate" was strong here. Look at me getting all old softy now.
  2. 도깨비

    Highly popular (both domestic and internationally) TV drama about... well the story is weird. A guy who is supposed to die, but because of love he can't yet, so he just lives for centuries with the sword (now ghostly) stuck in him until he hooks up with a high school girl who's really his bride, oh yeah and happens to live with the Grim Reaper... something like that. It's English name was apparently Guardian but nobody called it that. Aside from the heart-throb romance of Gong Yoo this show was responsible for a huge boom in Koreans' interest in Quebec. If you were a Korean female in her 20s in 2017, you at some point daydreamed about visiting (or living in) this part of Canada.
  3. 설리

    Former K-pop girl group member and current "actress" mostly known for her shenanigans on Instagram where she trolls for attention by posting "no bra" photos and poses with an assortment of other tabloid-popular idols and stars. Sulli was extra popular this year thanks to her nude scenes in the film "Real" (rated 19+) which appeared online [or here if you're feeling a little NSFW]. This is Korea we're talking about, so by "nude scenes" we mean topless plus some butt cheek and plenty of simulated sex. Sulli is a regular on these "most searched" lists.
  4. 어금니 아빠
    Molar Daddy

    This was just an awful news story this year. This was the affectionate public nickname for a certain man born with a deformed jaw, who received sympathy from public appearances and book deals and eventually received surgery to look pretty normal. He was also caring for his daughter who had inherited the condition. Aww, right? But get ready to turn that "aww" into "ehh" because it turned out Molar Daddy was blowing the charity money on cars, gambling, luxury items, hookers (lots and lots of hookers), and culminating in the rape and murder of one of his own daughter's underage friends. A real sicko. Plenty of details out there, like here and here.
  5. 리니지M
    Lineage M

    Some kind of mobile version release of a popular fantasy MMORPG game. I don't know. Looks like Starcraft but with knights in armor to me. I must be one of the few not playing it, because it's racked up massive profits for its parent company NCSoft. Unrelated to Lineage, but I have a guy in my office who bought and sold in-game items to build his collection, before his girlfriend convinced him he was spending too much time gaming and she'd leave if he didn't let up. So he sold his entire in-game collection of items, armor, etc. and made... ready for this?... nearly $2000 of real world money. Call me old fashioned, I just can't see myself paying for a virtual golden saber. I wouldn't even buy a real life saber.
  6. 문재인
    Moon Jae-in

    Current president of South Korea after winning a special election after the downfall of previous president Park Geun-hye. Moon was sworn-in in May of this year, marking the first liberal president since 2008.
  7. 범죄도시
    The Outlaws (or Crime City)

    Popular police thriller movie apparently based on real events where two gangs (one of native Koreans, one of Chinese-Koreans) clashed in Seoul. Featured one of 10원 Tip's favorite actors, Ma Dong-seok back in the sort of role he does best. I didn't see this so can't comment on it personally but it was very well liked by others. See the trailer here (Eng subs).
  8. 포켓몬 고
    Pokemon Go

    AR mobile game where you gotta catch em all. It had a massive flare-up of popularity again as the game was finally made fully functional throughout Korea (not just Seokcho) early this year. They tried re-promoting it a few months ago but I don't think it's got the same steam left in it and I predict this will be its last appearance on the lists.
  9. 김주혁
    Kim Joo-hyuk

    The "Hugh Grant" of Korea, Kim was a well-liked and warm-hearted actor and near constant fixture in movies and TV. Looks like a "dandy" but due to his goofy nature was the left in the "corner" (jokingly) on 1박 2일 where he was a regular. He tragically passed away this year in a car accident.
  10. 리얼

    The film where Sulli (#3 above) got nude. Some called this "the worst movie in Korean history" which is a shame as it featured actor Kim Soo-hyun who is well-liked and appeared in several highly pouplar and successful works from the very entertaining heist caper "The Thieves" to "Dream High," "Moon Embracing the Sun," and "My Love from the Star." Many fans felt pity for this train wreck which he himself seemed to echo. I didn't see it so can't comment.

국내 뉴스/이슈
Top domestic news/issue searches for Korea for 2017 

  1. 어금니 아빠
    Molar Daddy

    (repeat from above)
  2. 한샘

    Probably the #1 Korean-made furniture brand. They were caught in a scandal this year with the forced cover-up of a manager's rape of a new employee, in addition to a whole slew of other questionable employee treatment scandals. It exploded into a major issue in part due to the #MeToo movement. In less revolting news, Hanssem also opened a branch in Shanghai this year.
  3. 미세먼지
    Fine dust

    A few days this year were pretty bad for fine dust pollution. As usual, there was debate over how much is caused domestically vs. from China.
  4. 지진

    A surprisingly large earthquake struck near the city of Pohang this year, just days before the Korean CSAT test, causing it to be unprecedentedly delayed a week.
  5. 부산 여중생
    Busan middle school girls

    A viral news story about a group of female bullies who severely beat a classmate, sensationalized by CCTV footage that captured it and absolutely awful photos from the hospital of the victim's face. Plus some felt the case was bungled as the bullies were already known psychopaths basically. This case led to plenty of online debate about whether the removal of corporal punishment in Korean schools has contributed to this kind of out of control behavior.
  6. 경남 초등학교 여교사
    Gyeongnam elementary school female teacher

    Another viral salacious story. A female teacher had sex with her underage male student.  Released chat logs showed her urging him to come out to meet for sex by offering to buy him mandoo. What teen boy can resist the offer of free food? More wild is that they apparently had sex numerous times, the teacher is married with her own young children, and if rumors are to be believed, that she was a well-known flirt and very attractive. A coworker showed me an alleged photo of the teacher, and I agree the woman in the picture is an attractive teacher, but who knows if that photo was this woman. In these cases, the rabid desire for more information plus the eagerness of trolls to provide something makes falsehoods rampant.
  7. 수능 연기
    Suneung (Korean CSAT / college applications test) postponement 

    The week-long delay of Korea's once-a-year College Scholastic Ability Test, caused by the above mentioned Pohang earthquake. This was the only time the test has ever been delayed.
  8. 세월호

    The ferry that sank on its way to Jeju, taking the lives of hundreds of high school students, in what many consider the worst man-made disaster of recent times. At the time, President Park's handling of the situation was a source of immense criticism. But this was back in 2014. It was in the news again this year because finally, 3 years later, the ship was raised from the sea floor.
  9. 탄핵

    Although former President Park was impeached in December of 2016, her appeal trial continued well on into 2017, and in March the final unanimous verdict by the Supreme Court was handed down, and the "Strongman's Daughter" now resides in a small cell. If you ask me, Korea's better with her out of office, but I don't really see the point of keeping a frail old lady behind bars. With all she went through in her life, she deserves better. She never should have been made president in the first place. Enough politics from me.
  10. 인천 초등생 살인범
    Incheon elementary school student murder

    Another tragic viral story. A teen girl lured an 8 year old girl from her apartment complex into her apartment and brutally murdered her, dismembering the body and trying to hide it. She had a fellow teen female "accomplice" egging her on, and the two discussed in gory detail via text messages their plan to "hunt" a child and collect the fingers. Naturally this sick story was sensational, and rumors swirled that the two were lesbians in some sick sexual misdirection. Who knows. Both the killer and the accomplice received uncharacteristically harsh sentences from the court, though if you're from the US, 20 years won't seem harsh at all for this kind of thing. Plenty of write ups on this in English, like here, here, here, and here.

I was going to continue this list for all the categories, but I noticed over on Soompi they already did some of the others, including the celebrity list and offered some links. I don't know all the people on this list anyway.

The celebrity top 10 ranking is:
  1. Sulli
  2. Kim Joo Hyuk
  3. Kim Young Ae
  4. Kim Jung Min
  5. Gong Yoo
  6. Song Hye Kyo
  7. Kim Kwang Seok
  8. TWICE
  9. Lee Pa Ni
  10. Yoon So Jung
- [Google Korea Reveals Top Trending Keywords Of 2017 | Soompi]

Click the link above to see Soompi's full list including the Top Movie Searches and Top TV Program Searches.

And to be clear, these lists are adjusted for new and noteworthy searches, or as Google says: Lists are based on search terms that had a high spike in traffic in 2017 as compared to 2016. Which explains why terms like "weather" or "Naver" or "YouTube" aren't on the lists.

You can also enjoy this infographic that recaps the Top 3 in each category. 

Top Google searches in Korea for 2017 infographic. Image: Google

You can also read the Korea Herald's take on this list here:
🔗 Japanese movie ‘Your Name’ Korea’s top searched term on Google in 2017

And finally you can see the other lists for this year or prior years here:
10원 Tips: Years in Review

Wow, overall a pretty wild year with lots of story types I hope I don't see repeated on next year's list. Hope all your 2017s were better. Thanks for reading. 

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Kakao Map gets full English map imagery

Kakao Map received a major update this week. Not only is the interface in English, but now the map imagery itself is in English.

Screenshot showing Korean map tiles in former version (L) and new English map tiles in latest version (R)

Foreigners in Korea, rejoice! This means Kakao has made good on their promise to release a fully English mapping app for South Korea ahead of the 2018 Olympics. But of course this will be useful for any travelers and newly-arrived teachers/soldiers/tourists who need a high-quality English mapping app in Korea. 

The updated imagery should be available in both Android and iOS versions of the KakaoMap app, as of app versions 1.2.5 (Android) and 4.2.9 (iOS). Korean or English imagery will appear automatically depending on your device's language. 

I tried it out, and it looks pretty good. Here are some example screenshots showcasing the new English map imagery.

Kakao Map English map imagery samples


Seoul Station


Incheon Airport island (Yeongjongdo)

Useful for Pyeongchang Olympics

I think this will be a useful option for tourists arriving for the Olympics next year. Getting to Pyeongchang can be a hassle, especially as Google Maps only shows (some) public transit options, and Naver Map is still Korean-only.

As has been possible since the English interface was added a few months back, you can get both public transit and driving directions easily. But conveniently, now you can easily browse what's around you even if you don't have a specific place in mind. This makes it convenient for finding restaurants and other points of interest, like post offices, gas stations, and medical centers.

Here's a sample:

Admin Office for Pyeongchang Olympics and the 'downtown' Pyeongchang area
Ski area near Pyeongchang. No clue if this is where any events will be held. I haven't caught the "Olympic fever" in many years, at least for the winter games. 

Driving directions from Seoul Station to downtown Pyeongchang

One issue that you can see in the screenshot above is that turn-by-turn directions are still given in Korean. Not great for a non-Korean speaking tourist. I'd recommend Bing or Waze if you need English-language navigation here.

Dokdo in English

Finally, it wouldn't be a proper map update if they didn't ensure Dokdo was well represented. Let's take a quick look.

Dokdo search results

English place names still a minor issue

Here's another minor issue with the English version of the app. It still has some problems with inputting place names in English. You can see that searching "Dokdo" returns 독도, which a tourist might be unfamiliar with. Even searches for popular tourist spots like "Seoul Station" are returned in Korean. A general search for "Pyeongchang" returned several locations within Seoul that include the name, such as 평창2교 bridge. So be careful when searching in English and verify the location on the map to make sure you're not guided 100 miles in the wrong direction.

Driving directions from Seoul Station to Dokdo. About 10 hours. Not bad. That taxi fee though... $430. Yikes. 

Cute how the travel line includes little boats for the ferry portion of the trip.

The bigger of the Dokdo islands, with convenient English landmarks 

Final thoughts

It's great to see Kakao continue to release quality products in English, as they also did recently with Kakao Taxi [here and here]. Note that this English imagery only applies to the mobile app. The desktop version of Daum Maps is still Korean-only. 

Another app worth trying, tailored to tourists but useful for any visitors, is "dropin"
🔗 dropin - Travel in Korea

Grab the latest versions of KakaoMap here, leave your Google Maps at home, and visit Korea comfortably in English.

🔗 KakaoMap - Map / Navigation - Android Apps on Google Play
🔗 KakaoMap - Korea No.1 Map on the App Store

Speaking of Google, their offline download doesn't work in Korea anyway, and Kakao doesn't offer such a feature. So if you're planning to visit Korea without a data plan and need mapping, you can download map areas on Naver Maps, but (for now) they haven't released an English version.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Kakao Friends phone-watch for kids released

Any parents out there who want to keep tabs on their kids might want to look into getting one of these Kakao Friends wearable phone-watches.

KakaoKids Watch. Image: IT Chosun

You can track the kid's location with the admin app on your own phone, and the watch can automatically snap a photo of the surroundings and send it to you so you can check what's going on. Pretty neat. And of course you can send KakaoTalk messages back and forth from it, just by speaking.

They come in two models featuring 2 new Kakao Friends who I have no idea how to write their names in English: 꼼 and 키니. Gom and Kenny? Kohm and Keeny? Gom is clearly a bear. I don't know what the hell Kenny is. Leave a comment if you have a guess.

Anyway pick one up for about 300,000 won.

Source: 카카오키즈, 어린이용 스마트워치 선봬

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Google Play's Top Apps for South Korea 2017

Google Play released their Top Korean Apps of 2017 lists.

Google Play's Best of 2017 listings for South Korea screenshot

A new "Most Popular" category was added this year, and Sandbox Color, a relaxing coloring book type app by the looks of it, took home 1st place. Snow app (the Instagram of Korea), Naver's translator app Papago, and the fine dust forecast widget I use, all featured on the list. 

Meanwhile, for overall Top App, get ready for it: a "Foodie" camera.

Foodie app on Google Play 

Foodie is a camera app equipped with more than 30 filters designed for taking better pictures of food. Since its launch in February 2016, the app has racked up more than 10 million downloads on the Google Play app store.
Foodie camera app tops Korea’s 2017 Google Play App Awards

I was going to link you to the list, but it looks like it's the same URL for every country and the resulting lists depends on your location. So I don't think I can link you up to the Korean lists directly. So I'll just copy/paste the links to the apps here if you're curious.

Or you can just check the infographic from their blog post:

Best Apps for Korea 2017 by Google Play
Bonus: You can also just watch this Google-made video that showcases these apps:

Note that while many of these apps are Korean-made, some are not. Naver did pretty well, grabbing several spots if you include Snow and Foodie. Now on to the lists.

Overall Best App in Korea 2017

Most Popular Apps for Korea 2017

Top Entertainment Apps for Korea 2017

Most Innovative Apps for Korea 2017

  1. 카카오뱅크 - 같지만 다른 은행
  2. Papago 통역/번역 - 네이버 파파고
  3. 요일 YOIL – 패션, 스타일, 브랜드, 쇼핑, 의류
  4. 인공지능 애나 - 목소리로 시작하는 소개팅
  5. Fortune City - A Finance App

Top Indie Apps for Korea 2017

  1. 호갱노노
  2. 어메이저 - K-pop 영상 배틀
  3. 백자 하루 - 원고지 일기장
  4. 우리동네 중고 직거래 벼룩장터 - 당근마켓
  5. 내가 기억해 - 첫화면, 잠금화면 할 일 관리

Top Family Apps for Korea 2017

  1. 핑크퐁! 모양∙색깔
  2. TO-FU 오 ! 초밥 !
  3. Star Walk 2 - 아이들을위한 천문학 게임 : 태양계, 행성, 별 및 별자리 배우기
  4. 옥토넛 해양생물 탐사놀이
  5. YouTube Kids

Normally I'd say a few words about these apps, or at least check them out if I was unfamiliar. But I'm swamped right now with end-of-year stuff. Sorry about that. 

If you want to read short paragraphs about why each app was chosen (in Korean), you can do that here:

There's also corresponding lists for games, but you'll have to browse that on your own. Here's a roundup though:
Netmarble Games said Friday its latest game "Lineage 2: Revolution" has been given Google Play's "Best Game of 2017" award in South Korea and five other Asian countries.
South Korea's No. 1 mobile game developer and publisher said Lineage 2: Revolution, a mobile MMORPG game licensed by NCSoft and developed by Netmarble, got the award in its home country on Thursday and previously won similar awards in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore on Dec. 1.
Another Netmarble mobile game "Penta Storm for Kakao" also received the best live competitive mobile game award.
Lineage 2: Revolution given Google Play's 'Best Game of 2017' award

Top search terms lists must be coming out soon. I wonder which issue will top it? THAAD? The North Korean defector? Trump and the FTA? We'll find out soon.

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Kakao Taxi goes Star Wars for "The Last Jedi"

Today I used the Kakao T app to take a taxi. It popped up with yet another promotional event poster, this time for something about Star Wars. I usually just dismiss them without really reading them, but today's was pretty neat.

Kakao T Star Wars event promo. Image: ziness

When you order a taxi, the progress map changes your location icon to the BB-8 droid, and the taxi icon changes to the Millennium Falcon. Here's a screenshot from my trip today.

Screenshot from Kakao Taxi, with promotional Star Wars icons

Sorry for the poor blur job there. I tried to do this quick. I don't want the First Order knowing where I live and work.

Anyway, when you click that bottom banner, it takes you to the event promotion page located here:
🔗 스타워즈: 라스트 제다이 카카오내비, 치즈, T택시, 맵 프로모션 이벤트

Here's the event info, which suggests that simply taking a Kakao Taxi trip during the promotion period will enter you to win a ticket to the The Last Jedi.

Screenshot of Kakao T / Star Wars promo event. Image: ziness

Some other Kakao apps are participating in the event, such as Kakao Cheese and Kakao Navi, but it looks like you should upload proofshots to your SNS for those.

And if you want even more Star Wars fun, you can add some flare to your Kakao Talk profile, like this person did:

I haven't seen any other screenshots out there, so I wonder if other Kakao Taxi users see other Star Wars icons? I sort of hoped by driver's profile image would have been a Kylo Ren mask.

Speaking of Kakao T, my first driver texted me insisting there was a "problem" and I should cancel the request. When I did, Kakao gave me the option of reporting why I cancelled, and one of the options was "Driver called me and told me to cancel" which I chose. This is apparently a growing problem. Even in the virtual world, they can still drive on by you.

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Sam Hammington chats with Mark Hamill for Star Wars promo

Sam Hammington, that famous Korean-speaking white Aussie comedian you see on every Korean reality TV show, recently sat down with Mark Hamill (Luke from Star Wars, like you didn't know that) in Japan to conduct an English/Korean interview with the actor.

Sam Hammington and Mark Hamill chatting it up. Image: Disney Facebook 

They had a nice chat, promoting the latest Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie which comes out in Korea on December 14 and playing a few goofy talk show type games. Summer or winter? Mark or Luke? He even gets him to do the Korean "heart fingers" gesture and of course, it wouldn't an interview with a foreign celebrity without getting him to say something in Korean. In this case: 기대해, "look forward to it, anticipate it!"

You can watch the interview on Naver's V Live streaming video service here:
🔗 V LIVE - 마크 해밀 X 샘 해밍턴 <스타워즈: 라스트 제다이> V라이브 '<Star Wars: The Last Jedi> V LIVE'

 I'll embed it here too:

Disney also has a promo post up on their Facebook page with some nice still shots that sum up all the fun bits (embedded below):

And finally, Sam has some images from the interview up on his personal Instagram:

A post shared by 샘해밍턴 Sam Hammington (@samhammington) on

Maybe because it's a Saturday, but I was surprised not to find any info about this in English language news. Anyway enjoy the chat. And see kids, if you study Korean hard, someday you can meet Luke Skywalker.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Links for Nov 2017

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

Links for November 2017

Tech stuff

Welcome back, North Korea Tech!

This Korean life

Google vs. Naver / Int'l Internet stuff

Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics stuff

Juicy clickbait

Honorable Mention

Nagoya is not necessarily a popular city for tourists. World War II (1939-45) left the city with few historic landmarks and other interesting traces of the past, putting the city at a major disadvantage in terms of attracting visitors. Over decades, the city developed a reputation for its soullessness, with one local paper even calling it "the most boring city in Japan."
Why visit Nagoya? Why not?

That has got to be one of the best headlines I've seen. Flawless logic. Why visit? Why not? Well shoot, you got me there! Bonus points for what I will call "clever use of reverse psychology" in the opening paragraphs. I clicked, didn't I?

Thanks for reading. See you next month.

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