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User Increase Boosts Korean Internet Business

The number of Korea's Internet users is increasing rapidly, boosting sales of various Internet-based businesses.

Samsung Economic Research Institute reported that the number of domestic Internet users had increased 10-fold during the past three years, marking 3 million at 1998's end and exceeding 4 million as of the end of April this year. And, the figure is expected to hit 5 million by the end of the year.

In this connection, Korea's Internet-based businesses are expected to maintain their energetic growth for the next several years with the combined sales amounting to 2.06 trillion won (about US$1.7 billion) in the year 2005, according to SERI.

The institute reported that there are 230 cyber shopping malls in Korea, which include department stores, bookstores and other retail shops. Transactions through the Internet were estimated at about 28.5 billion won (US$23.7 million) last year.

Industry analysts say that such a sharp increase in the number of Internet users can be easily sensed by the current traffic increase in major portal sites in Korea.

Yahoo! Korea, the Korean-language search engine affiliated with Yahoo!, is now enjoying its pageviews skyrocketing. Recently, its daily average page view increased by nearly 1 million each week, and the company expects that it will reach around 15 million page views by the end of June. Each month, Yahoo! Korea's page views are audited by ABVS, a subsidiary of ABC.

Youm Jin-Sub, president of Yahoo! Korea, claimed that such an energetic growth in page view was unprecedented in the world. He noted that it reflects that the number of Internet users is rising abruptly in Korea.

Another major portal site, Hanmail.Net Online, Daum Communications Corp.'s Web-based free e-mail service, is experiencing a similar situation to Yahoo! Korea as the number of its users also is growing rapidly.

Previously, it took Hanmail.Net about one and a half years to secure 1 million registered users. Recently, however, it has taken just 5 months to secured 1 million additional registered users.

"Each day, about 12,000 Netizens newly register for our free e-mail service. So, we expect that the total number of our registerd users will hit 4 million by the end of this year," said Lee Jae-Woong, president of Daum Communications Corp.

Industry analysts say that such a rapid growth in the number of Internet users is due largely to the current boom of online games as well as aggressive marketing efforts by major online information service providers such as Hitel and Chollian, which have begun allowing its subscribers free Internet access since last March.

Currently, there are about 3,500 Internet Gaming Arcades throughout the nation, and they are reportedly enjoying handsome profits out of their businesses.



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