One thing to know about Korean culture these days; It’s never awkward to hear friends say, “Katok me,” or “Let’s Katok later,” rather than saying, “Call me,” or “Text me.” These small lines just tell us how Korea’s most popular messenger app, Kakao Talk(카카오톡), has taken a big part in Koreans’ daily lives.
Kakao’s popularity skyrocketed with its game platform, starting with Anipang in 2012. Friends could check each other’s level through Kakao interlocked games, so you could see how competitive people were. My day starts with checking news of fashion and events sent by corporate Kakao accounts (McDonalds, Innisfree, Everland, Bazzar, etc.). Hungry customers won’t forget to check their coupons before buying a burger. With Kakao Talk, the form of a birthday present has extended to Kakao online coupons that the receiver can exchange to a present, from cakes to jewelry! Over the years, Kakao Talk has continuously presented new features to keep its users satisfied and we have been satisfied. But if you are still asking why Kakao Talk is so popular?
To be honest, I am a more of a calling type than a texting type, but Kakao comes very handy when you don’t have a lot of time. I especially like to create group chatting rooms to have group meetings. Everyone can jump into the discussion even if we are kilometers away, send a message as an announcement on the head bar so that we don’t have to flick our fingers furiously to search for previous discussions, and create a poll to pin the final decision. With that said, the meeting could be about anything from selecting the month’s presentation topic to deciding which restaurant is the best for Friday night.
Why are Koreans really obsessed with Kakao Talk when there are other texting apps like Google chat, Whatsapp, Line, etc.? One possibility could be: emoticons. Cute, adorable Kakao characters make the conversations more fun. I once thought my friends were chatting just to use emoticons. You would be amazed to see a whole conversation which consists mostly with emoticons and actually make sense!
The popularity of Kakao characters is evident everywhere outside the screen. They are on posters, signs, stationery, and even bank books. Many Korean guys and girls like to collect stickers that are in bread packages, so-called ‘sticker breads.’ Just a few years ago there were Keroro stickers on students’ notebooks, now the trend has moved onto Kakao Friends.
Is now the Golden Days of Kakao Talk? Following Kakao pop-up store, Line has also opened its largest Line store in Garosu-gil, Sinsa. Line has gained relatively more popularity from international users than from Korean users, but the fact that international friends are using Line has become an appealing point to consider (I seriously considered Line as the next texting app from watching My Love from the star.