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In Korea, Email Is Only For Old People 439

Posted by timothy
from the u.s.-has-officially-been-lapped dept.
_martini_ writes "This short article suggests that, in Korea, email is used only for formal communications, or by older, less tech-saavy generations, while IMs, blogs, and SMS has taken over as the primary means of day to day messages."
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In Korea, Email Is Only For Old People

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  • Greasy Kids Stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by insensitive claude (645770) * on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:20AM (#10950118) Journal
    I can understand how IM appeals to kids (regardless of nationality), but I find IM incredibly distracting. I guess it's the natural evolution though. As telephones cut into the postal load, so are chat functions overtaking email.
  • On slashdot... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ejdmoo (193585) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:22AM (#10950129)
    On slashdot, engadget is for dummies!

    Seriously though, no credit? Come on!
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mOoZik (698544) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:23AM (#10950136) Homepage
    SMS still costs some money, IM isn't as formal, and email is more wide-spread. Doesn't mean anyone has to do what HelloKitty loving teens are doing in a place where technology changes daily.

  • by tyleroar (614054) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:25AM (#10950151) Homepage
    From the article: "Email's efficiency falls in terms of promptness, convenience and credibility," observed Yoo Hyon-ok, president, SK Communications. "With the continuous emergence of new communication means, communication formats will develop further in the future."
    How do IMs, blogs or SMS provide any more credibility than E-Mail?
  • Heh heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daeley (126313) * on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:25AM (#10950154) Homepage
    In Korea, Email Is Only For Old People

    Of course, there is the corollary: IM, blogs, and SMS are kiddy tech. ;)
  • by wrinkledshirt (228541) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:25AM (#10950158) Homepage
    I love Korea a lot, but it's got some drawbacks, particularly in its journalism and media. The impetus behind this article might have a lot less to do with the actual oncoming death of email and a lot more to do with maintaining a tech-obsessed culture -- much easier to do if you're constantly promoting new toys, which Korea is.

    It'd be like a Hollywood tabloid saying that indipendent film is on the way out.

    The ebb of email is confirmed by a diminishing trend in pageviews, a tabulation of frequency in service used by email users. Daum Communication, the top email business in the country, saw its email service pageviews fall over 20 percent from 3.9 billion in October last year to 3 billion in October this year. By contrast, with SK Telecom, the nation's No. 1 communication firm, monthly SMS transmissions skyrocketed over 40 percent in October from 2.7 billion instances last October. Cyworld, a representative mini-homepage firm, witnessed its pageviews multiply over 26-fold from 650 million instances in October last year to 17 billion in October this year.

    This paragraph, for instance, is as much about corporate branding as it is about giving email stats.
  • Um no... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ReeprFlame (745959) <kc2lto@SOMETHINGgmail.com> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:26AM (#10950160) Homepage
    THats something that I hope does not evolve here. Mainly because people complain about emails sometimes getting lost, but they are more institutionalized and easier to find/access than blogs, SMS, and IMs. It is also more of an "on-demand" service. That you can send files, reply immediately [even if the user is not online], etc. And best of all is it automatically keeps your messages...
  • Here too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by comwiz56 (447651) <comwizNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:27AM (#10950171) Homepage
    It's like that here (in America) too. Most teenagers in America use AIM, IRC, or MSN more than they email. Reasons for this are pretty simple. IMs (and chat rooms) provide instant communication (this is comparable to a phone call, or talking in the halls), whereas an email is like passing a note. The reader has to read and respond seperately.

    And as far as blogs, teens like talking about themselves, so this gives them a place to write about themselves as much as they want. Then anyone who knows how to get to it can read it, so its spread to the masses.

    And SMS. Many teens have cellphones, and aren't at their computer 24/7, so an easy way to communicate is to a device that they carry with them all the time.
  • by NoTheory (580275) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:28AM (#10950179)
    Most of the reasons they give for email being shunned for other mediums are pretty flimsy.

    I know people who set up their AIM client so that you can't tell whether they're idle, and only respond to messages 10 hours after you've sent them, and i know people who watch their inboxes like obsessive hawks.

    as for email being less "fun" than aim... I don't know, i think my gmail account is pretty cool... and conversational for that matter.

    This debate is pretty silly, after all, all we're talking about is persistant electronic messaging. In terms of user experience, email and a client like ICQ aren't -drastically- different. Presumably email will get faster and friendlier, and hell, at some point probably may as well be the same as an IM system.
  • by matth1jd (823437) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:34AM (#10950209)
    My grandparents prefer e-mail. Why? Because they have always enjoyed writing letters. It was the preferred method of correspondance to people who they couldn't otherwise call on the telephone. E-Mail for them is just a "new fangled" way of writing letters.
    If shown Instant Messaging they wouldn't use it as nifty as they think it might be, because it's a paradigm they don't neccesarily buy into.

    I would imagine this would apply to many older people. Hell, I even enjoy the eloquence of well written letter.

    --J
  • Hell no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BrookHarty (9119) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:37AM (#10950227) Homepage Journal
    IM clients piss me off, always in your face. They have pop ups, blink in your tool bar, whatever to get your attention. Then to top it off there are 4 major IM's and the good multi-im clients tend to have bugs and not support all the features. There is a good console multi-IM client that works well under screen, but has proxy issues.

    Email works, hell, I'd rather have an IM2mail gateway so I can use a mail client. Mail is passive and you control it, IM wants to control your life. (No this isnt a in Russia joke.)

    I can also sort mail, pop web mail, attachments, etc. Mail is much more powerful. And newer IM devices include email accounts (POP or Ldap) Even ATT Wireless (Er Cingular now) the Ogo.
  • Re:I call BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:47AM (#10950271) Homepage Journal
    why would you need to archive lunch invitation of the day? or "hey.. what's that place to download firefox from again??"

  • Re:In Korea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:50AM (#10950286) Journal
    The phone is the only way to be sure you're actually talking to the correct person.
    I wonder what Mitnick would have to say about that.

    However, this is not only in Korea. I live in Hong Kong, and essentially all casual communication is done via SMS (which is extremely cheap here) or IM (ICQ being the favorite of the various messengers).
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:51AM (#10950288)
    We use e-mail for our help desk for example. You send an e-mail to the help address, it creates a new ticket for your issue. This works well, as we get documentation of everything you say to us, and us to you, and it allows us to deal with your problem when a person with the requisite knowledge has time.

    IM would be totally unsuited for this. When peopel have your attention in realtime, they want results in realtime. If I answer a chat about a Solaris problem, I'm not the one you want, you want the Solaris admin. With e-mail, this is all taken care of. Someone submits their request, and when the Solaris admin is available, he deals with it.

    I certianly don't think IM is useless, but I think young people (I include myself in this category, I'm 24) are a little too caught up with the wow factor. When it comes to bussiness, there are major reasons to want to use e-mail instead.
  • How about...both? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by laughingcoyote (762272) <barghesthowl@@@excite...com> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:54AM (#10950298) Journal

    Each serves their purpose. If I need to speak to someone interactively and immediately, IM is generally a better choice. On the other hand, if I want to send a good bit of information to someone that they're likely going to want to refer back to, or they're not online when I think of something I need to tell them, email is a much better alternative.

    I quite like the way gmail is set up, and that is certainly done well to support a "conversational" format. I don't see why this persistent need in the tech community that one tool is always and for everything better than another. It seems pretty frequent though (Windows vs. Linux vs. *BSD vs. Solaris, email vs. IM, blogs vs. newsgroups, I could go on but I'd fill up the server.)

    Why doesn't anyone acknowledge that, quite like in reality, software is a tool, and one type of tool is generally better at a given job then another? You don't use a hammer to loosen a nut, nor a wrench to drive a nail, and you wouldn't want to be stuck without either when the need arises.

  • by majid_aldo (812530) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:08AM (#10950362)
    my email looks like a bulletin board! full of crap like "hey look at this", "hey what are you doing tonight?"... i want my email to be for meaningful correspondence.

    this creates alot of email that one has to sort through.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:18AM (#10950407)
    What a dumb article. Email is hear to stay in one form or another for very basic reasons that make it different from IM. Each is suited to a different task. Email isn't well suited to saying things like "how did your day go" just like IM chat isn't well suited towards critiquing a paper. Really what this article is about is how email was being used for quick forms of communication where it really was never very well suited.

    Email is a medium best suited to explaining large topics where you need to compose and edit a message. That does tend to be more formal communication. Really it's an inherently different way to communicate because you get to compose a message rather than have a conversation. IM is realtime conversation, whereas email is a form of writing.

    I've had chat capability almost as long as email, probbably started somewhere around 1991. I actually do tend to use email to talk to people that are less tech savy, and IRC or IM to those that are more tech savy, so it's not just a Korean thing. The core reason for the tech-gap is because email caught on much quicker than chat because email doesn't require a constant on connection. With people having broadband connections that're always on more and more it's obvious why IM is becoming a more and more popular a form of communication. Most communication people do is the short "can you do blah" rather than "here's a long winded explanation of blah".
  • by Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:25AM (#10950441) Homepage
    I don't like the immediate interaction of IM for the same reason I don't like phones, cell or otherwise. I don't like people virtually popping in and demanding my attention no matter what I am doing. Most of my calls go to VM and when I tried IM I found that I left it set to 'away' most of the time.
    If you need to get a hold of me, email is the fastest way. I check them every hour or so. I check the VM only 1-2 times a day. If only I could turn off the phone at work as well.

  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:25AM (#10950442)
    I'm in my early 20s, and have some major difficulties with IM. Some of my contacts are younger and do prefer IM for almost everything, but I get the sense that they are suffering from continual distractions. Some have admitted to me, jokingly, that they are "addicted to MSN". I think this isn't far from the truth.

    An instant conversation is nice to have, but if you have ongoing conversations throughout the day you simply can not focus on your computer work!

    People often think they are smarter than they actually are. I am willing to acknowledge that I don't have the mental capacity to seriously work on more than one thing at a time. I prefer the operation of email, since communications get queued up and will be answered at my convenience. Not only are they queued up (Jabber, ICQ does that too of course) but this is the expected mode of operation, so there is no etiquette problem with delays on the order of days before a reply.

    Another thing is, most of my friends who are non-techies have given up on email because: spam, and junk from friends. Well, neither of these is really a problem: wonderful, free spam filtering systems exist that will reliably get rid of 99% of your spam, and simple self discipline (and being politely firm with your contacts) will prevent your inbox from becoming the destination for circulated crap.

    If I want instant conversations, I pick up the phone or go outside. This is coming from a young guy who is plenty literate with computers! Besides, you can't reliably pick up cues from girls behind a keyboard.
  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spectra72 (13146) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:26AM (#10950446)
    Spot on. So what? What's the point of this story? Is there some sort of parallel? Only older, less tech savvy South Koreans use email. Citizens of Western Country "Foo" still email...therefore, the citizens of Western Country "Foo" are less tech savvy? Is that what we're supposed to learn from this?

    Does their use of SMS enable them to perform feats of superhuman ability? Is leading to a cure for cancer? Is it doing anything to get their northern neighbor to remove the thosands of artillery pieces pointed at their country? What?

    "The new generation hate agonizing and waiting and tend to express their feelings immediately," said Professor Lee.


    So South Koreans need to learn patience? Maybe they need to work on their "quiet time" skills.
  • by oneishy (669590) <jczebotaNO@SPAMoneishy.com> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:32AM (#10950470) Homepage
    I agree with most of your points. Especially that you can't read into any inflections over IM regardless of gender like you can with a phone or in person. If the person you are talking to is a good friend, you can normally guess at some of the inflections and sarcasim; but it really stinks for talking to people that are outside of your circle of friends/peers.

    I find IM and SMS usefull for situations where phone is unacceptable, like in church, a meeting, or movie; But in general If i have more than a sentance to say i'll use an email or if I want a conversation i'll pick up the phone.

    We recently lost the use of IM at work, and i realy missed it durring the first two weeks; but now I realize how much time I was wasting on it. (now I have time to read slashdot *grin* )
  • It would be helpful to point out that everyone, everywhere, at ALL TIMES (no, i am not exagerrating) is within arm's reach of their mobile phone: on the subway, walking, in the car, meetings, in the hwajongshil, everywhere, always. The same does not hold true for what Koreans consider "email", where you sit down at your desk, open up Outlook, type a message, and send it off.

    The other cultural thirk here is that Koreans, especially in Seoul, are very very demanding of instant answers to the slightest issue. As such, there is no taboo for answering your cell phone in the middle of a meeting (by contrast, this is as bad as farting in a meeting in Japan).

    I will say that email is still used for "official" stuff: official sales responses, bids, inquiries, and for formal appointment arranging.
  • by segmond (34052) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:49AM (#10950522)
    I hate IM for this reason, I usually tell people I don't have any IM account till I make sure they are not part of the "i am often bored" group. Else, I tend to give them only email. It's amazing how people who can't find the strength to write a 2 line email can write 5000 lines over IM.

  • by dasunt (249686) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:21AM (#10950622)

    Your post was probably intended to be humorous, but the point is valid.

    As we move from traditional letters to email and finally to instant messaging, it appears that we are taking less time and care in the composition of the messages.

    A carefully written message is more effective at transmitting an idea than a hastily written message. Proper spelling and grammar results in easier reading and a better impression of the author and the value of the message.

    I used to work for someone who would always use cute AOLisms in messages (e.i. "b4", "u", etc). While face-to-face conversations gave most people the impression that he was an intelligent guy, online he appeared to be a lot more ignorant, due to how he wrote.

    As I spend more and more time online writing quick messages, I find that my writing skills are slowly degrading. Hopefully, ten years down the road, the quality of my writing won't have suffered too much. But even now, writing this post, I see sentences that could be phrased better, words that should be replaced, etc.

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:33AM (#10950646) Homepage
    I can't agree more.

    In fact, first thing I do on a new account, I block .kr domain.

    I am against blocking entire country domains in fact, I generally report spam through Spamcop (taking my time) and review report while sending.

    The problem? They do NOTHING!

    http://www.spamcop.net/w3m?action=inprogress

    Look at top spam senders, it will explain everything.

    Oh btw if there are Korean-Americans out there as moderators, spare your time teaching postmasters of your native country at least how to enable smtp-auth instead of marking parent post troll.

    Or, if you can give me my your mail address, I can auto forward 100 spam/week, ONLY coming from hananet etc to your mail address.
  • I'm living in Beijing, China and have a lot of friends from Korea (both North and South)

    What you have to remember is that in this part of the world, not everyone can afford a computer desktop, but even my maid has a mobile phone, with SMS messaging.

    Another important factor is that young people don't always have a personal computer that is private from their parents, while their mobile phone is typically very private. Also, most younger people don't like to hang around the house, they are typically out meeting with friends in some youth oriented location. This is both personal preference and the fact that they want some privacy. So SMS get's really popular because you can always have your mobile phone around.

    There are some political issues. Lots of people are more concerned that the gov't is checking emails servers for what is classified as subversive activity. Not that SMS is more secure, but I think that the gov't hasn't quite caught on to it yet, dispite what happened in the Philopeans a few years ago :)

    Another thing is that SMS and IM are more interactive, and during that time of life you are working a lot to develop your interpersonal skills, so you want to spend a lot of time chatting.

    Why not just call and talk? Well, typically SMS messagin is very cheap compared to talking on the phone. Actually when I first got to Beijing I really annoyed some people when I was calling them, because I was costing them a lot of money.

    You can also type SMS with your hand hidden in a coat pocket or in a purse, which is something that a lot of younger people in class do. You can SMS your friends while sitting in class much more easily than calling them on the mobile.

    When you get older and have your own apartment you don't mind spending so much time there because your parents are not peeking into your bedroom. So you will be more comfortable to use technologies like email with a desktop, that is tied to a single location. I don't worry that my parents will walk in and see me blowing kisses at my girlfriend when we talk online, for example.

    But yeah, this can be a big generation gap. I run a couple of social groups that I use email mailing lists to organize, and several of the younger people in the group are always sending me SMS's because they don't read the emails. So I guess I will look into some sort of SMS to email gateway, since the whole point of having the mailing list is so that I don't spend too much time organizing the projects.

    Anyway, just remember that tech is always evolving and that if you want to keep of the lines of comunication you need to stay on top of it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:10AM (#10950787)
    Which is rather than distinguishing by age, they really should consider it by social status. There are young people who don't like to be disturbed and find IM to be an annoying intrusion. This and SMS are more for people who like to gossip and need to feel like they're part of a group. That's not necessarily a measure of age.
    I am sure that Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and some of the major cities in China have far, far better telecoms than anywhere on earth but I don't think this is a good measure.
  • by RALE007 (445837) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:15AM (#10950966)
    How many people do you know that can carry on a voice conversation with 5 people at once?

    Everyone I know.

  • by PeteDotNu (689884) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:20AM (#10950983) Homepage
    One of the most irritating aspects of IM to me is that people can see that you're online. Sure, it's one of the major benefits too, but if I'm about to head out and suddenly a friend comes online, I'm never sure whether I should stay and talk to them or be rude and bugger off. It's a situation that I don't really like to be put in.

    Hence why I prefer email.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:29AM (#10951005)
    Whenever someone IM's you. Just reply with a smiley and no text. That works for me.

    I would like to have an IM client with canned answers such as: "Thats a very nice joke, but I am working right now".

  • Only In America (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:46AM (#10951051)
    Would anyone be surprised that SMS is more widely used than email.
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @07:39AM (#10951321) Journal
    Now I'm not a Korean, but I can say I gave up on email too.

    A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, email was a valuable communication resource. I used to actually look forward to receiving email. I used to actually give my email to people, and I used to open emails from strangers. I used my real email on newsgroups. When I wrote a walkthrough for a game, I put both my email addresses at the time in it, so people can write me an email if they have questions. Some of them with attachments too, such as their saved game where they have problems or a screenshot.

    But back then email was still usable, and spam was still in the range of maybe 1 spam email per week.

    Nowadays, if anyone did that, especially the part about opening emails with attachments, you'd probably call them a stupid n00b.

    And then the payback time came. Those email addresses I've used everywhere were hit by a tsunami of spam. I got a new email address and only told it to my family, friends and boss. It soon became flooded just the same.

    Email has been plundered, raped and poluted by a bunch of idiot spammers, to the point of being useless. I'm no longer looking forward to emails. It's just not worth it any more. Yeah, I can install spam filters and whatnot, but even configuring and training those all the time is just not worth it any more.
  • Re:Here too (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:38AM (#10951470)
    And as far as blogs, ... anyone who knows how to get to it can read it, so its spread to the masses.

    Except that the masses aren't really that interested in teenage drivel.

  • by kin_korn_karn (466864) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:35AM (#10951764) Homepage
    In Korea, only old people remember Soviet Russia
  • Hardly new.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chiller2 (35804) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @10:34AM (#10952307) Homepage
    This isn't new. Around 1993/94 my school friends and I had CB radios, as phonecalls were charged by the minute in the UK local or not. When uni started in 95 we left our irc clients running. IM came along and I use it all the time.

    The whole time though, for anything I want to pay serious attention to I'll use e-mail or the phone.

    It's just kids wanting instant gratification, same as ever. Nothing has changed; rather they just have more toys to play with. Patience is a virtue.

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