South Korea is the place to be if you like a fast internet connection. They thrive on technology and provide their citizens with the best capabilities to access the internet. The average connection is 28.6 Mbit/s. While the government has made access and speed a priority, it helps that many in the country live in apartment buildings that make it easy to provide what we in the U.S. call the “last mile”.
My home in the U.S. is approximately two miles from an internet box from my telecom company and the distance reduces my speed greatly compared to a home closer to an internet box.
Having a large percentage of the population living in apartment buildings allows for most people to be near a box and achieve high internet speed. In urban areas, the average speed is 100 Mbit/s. 1Gbit/s service is expanding rapidly and only costs $20 a month.
Here is a quick high-level look at what is happening in South Korea online:
1. Internet Penetration
Last year, Forbes reported from a government survey that 99.2% of the country’s 19 million households had internet access. They equate this to 88.3% of the population over age three having internet access. For ages 10 to 60, the rate is over 90%.
2. Top Search Engines
A simple Google search on this topic will bring conflicting figures for which search engine holds the top spot in South Korea. I have found this to be the case for the past five years. I am not sure why the reports for this market are inconsistent with one another.
A very good article on this topic can be found online by The Egg: https://www.theegg.com/seo/korea/korean-search-engine-market-share-update-2017/. I agree with the article, which states that Naver is by far the leading search engine, followed by Daum in 2nd place and Google in 3rd place.
3. Mobile Usage
Koreans use their mobile phones more than any other country on a per use basis at about 200 minutes a day. Today 72% of children under the age of 12 have a smartphone, which is a similar percentage for adults. To reach the Korean consumers, expect to do so via their smartphone.
While ecommerce is only 10% of the retail market in South Korea, it is a widely accepted method for consumers in the country to make purchases. Growth is expected as consumers build trust in ecommerce stores.
The leading ecommerce marketplaces in South Korea include:
- Gmarket (eBay div.) www.gmarket.co.kr/
- Coupang www.coupang.com/
- 11ST www.11st.co.kr/
- Auction (eBay div.) https://auction.co.kr/
- WeMakePrice www.wemakeprice.com
5. Online Payments
According to eMarketer, 31.9% of smartphone users will use their phones to make in person payments this year in South Korea at stores, restaurants, etc. Helping this adoption was the introduction of Samsung Pay in 2015. It has become the leading payment application since that time.
For online payments, Samsung does not rule the roost. N Pay, a unit of the search engine company Naver is among the leaders along with Kakao Pay and Payco. Kakao Pay recently also became available for offline payments.
The volume of mobile payments doubled in the past year. Adoption is quick in South Korea.