Park Geun-hye Invades Your Smartphone

by Niels on April 27, 2011

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Anyone who feels there are just too many apps these days has some handy new ammunition for their argument.

Courtesy of the “Blue Park” group of young supporters and others, come not one, but two new Android apps devoted to dictator’s offspring, presidential hopeful and opportunist-in-chief Park Geun-hye.

Called “A Country of Happy People,” the Blue Park-created app includes pictures, a video autobiography and — yes! — a cartoon detailing her policies.

Meanwhile, the “Geun-hye Garden” app — set up by another gaggle of Park supporters — offers direct access to her mobile fan cafe, her official homepage and her Cyworld “mini hompi,” too. If that still isn’t enough Park action for you, the app also keeps you updated on Park’s Twitter feed.

Said Kim Joo-bok, a representative of Geun-hye’s Garden:

Park is active on Twitter, mini hompi and apps, so we constructed a mobile system that fit with her way of life and lets the electorate get closer to her.

Though a spokesman for Park said that “various reasons” had held up the launch of an official Park app for the iPhone 4, he said it would soon be available. Sometimes, it seems, there are advantages to being a BlackBerry owner in Korea.

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  • Michael Hurt

    Interesting. Although it is reading a lot into things, I’m not surprised it’s an Android app. This is not a fanboy comment, but another observation to the interesting classed and other patterns that go with iPhone usage versus it’s domestic competitors. The iPhone in Korea tends to be owned by those who are early adopters, and those who have significant amounts of excess income. Of course, this pattern exists in other places, but I think it is made more cute but the nature of the way the iPhone came into Korea. It’s kind of an interesting social marker and observation. The iPhone came into a completely expectant and virgin market in terms of real smart phones. There was a lot of anticipation, with waiting lists and such that went on forever, but it was also an interesting test of the kind of person who would be the most willing and able to take the plunge and go with an Apple product in Korea, even one so well branded and leveraged at that time, since there was no real android competition. At that time, there were no special plans to get out of existing contracts, so the majority of initial iPhone users, by definition had to be those already with existing cell phones and existing contracts. At that time, it was very common to see Korean consumers to two-fisting cell phones, one normal cell phone, and one iPhone, as they made the transition. I myself had to figure out what to do with my old cell phone, because I could not transfer the number to the iPhone, yet I did not want to cut it off completely. For that and other reasons not worth going into here, I ended up to double-using cell phones myself for several months.

    The point here is that the iPhone users in Korea constituted their own interesting social experiment, because they exemplified Carias Eagre reception of the phone because of the strong brand image here of being expensive, different, and really cool; but there is also a matching fear, much decreased now, of Apple products as “difficult” to use (because they differ from the Windows standard), and were two different for practical use. The sentiment has also been that, while the products are cool and all, they are not made for the average person. The difference in the Korean case lies in how the launch separated those who are more forward thinking, open to new ideas, from those who are not. This is different from the way this goes down in the states, for example, where Apple is not associated with being a strange foreign product, something that requires familiarity with English (which was always an interesting aspect of the stereotype of Apple here, as a product that did not do well in the Korean language, despite Macs actually being much better at multiple languages even before OS 10), or is overly seen as the product of only an extremely small elite, namely graphic designers in Chungmuro or the foreign-connected living below the river.

    Such stereotypes of Apple, despite the market penetration of the iPod from the initial nano stage, obviously extended into the launch of the iPhone, which is single-handedly the most responsible for really bringing in Apple products down from the clouds in many Koreans minds. But the echo of all of this is still apparent.

    So, when one is below the river here in Seoul, sitting in a fancy coffee shop surrounded by young people, I just notice that I don’t see many android phones. When I am sitting in a café in one of the older parts of town above the river, say in a working-class district to see a movie, I notice a significant drop in the number of iPhones. I also noticed this while hanging around with a group of students going to universities such as Yonsei and Ehwa. It was iPhone territory. Whilst hanging out with a group of students who were attending what Koreans would call second or third-tier universities, I noticed the prevalence of other android devices, mostly from Samsung or LG.

    This is not to say that all types of certain people all use certain types of phones; that would be silly. But to this day same extent that there is an established relationship between University ranking and the socioeconomic status of one’s family, especially the ranked profession of the father in one study, it’s not at all surprising to notice a pattern here in Korea regarding cell phone usage, especially with the unique conditions in which the iPhone and other smartphones enter the market here.

    So the point here is that it is not surprising that the conservative supporters of a conservative candidate, who are going to also reflect demographic patterns and terms of higher age and lack of social openness, although such things aren’t really trackable, are going to logically 10 to be non-Apple users. It’s sort of an instinctive logic from someone who is lived in Korea for so long, but it makes a very strong kind of sense if you live here. I’m just trying to break down a pattern that I notice, which is also hard to describe to those outside the Korean market. But I think the pattern is definitely there, and worth expending a few few neurons worth of energy on.

  • Niels Footman

    Hi Mike

    Many thanks for 1) such insightful comments, and 2) quadrupling the overall text volume of my comments section with a single posting :D

    I, too, had noticed that although all the figures point to a boom in Android use, the Koreans I know, and the ones I see in coffee shops etc, overwhelmingly seem to use iPhones. I’d wondered why that is and your explanation certainly makes sense. I guess the kind of people who work in PR/marketing would be just the kind of people you mean — professionals, English-speaking, many attending top-tier unis — and a lot of my co-workers do indeed have iPhones.

    One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that the people I know who’ve bought smartphones most recently are, often as not, choosing models other than the iPhone. My own, purely instinctive feeling was this is because a) there are obviously many more Android models kicking around these days, and b) with Koreans being famously quick to adopt and abandon trends, there has already been a shift toward slightly more “original” models — HTC, Nexus, etc. If, as you say, Koreans in general still harbour a feeling that Apple products are difficult to use, this could certainly be reinforcing this trend.

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