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Kakao Talk to compete with global rivals in UK

SEOUL--As Kakao Talk ramps up its efforts to infiltrate the UK market, much attention is being paid to whether the Korean mobile messenger will be as successful there as it is on its home turf.

Kakao made an impressive debut in the UK in August when it ran an advertisement at Cardiff City's stadium during a football match between the Wales-based home club and Manchester City. The company's logo also appeared on the jerseys of Cardiff players.

After the match (Cardiff beat Manchester City 3-2), it was the unusual sponsorship by the Korean venture, not the final score, that really drew in soccer fans in Korea.

“Given that Kakao Group was marketing in one of the UK's most lucrative business sectors, Korea's largest mobile messenger is definitely eying a foothold there,” a market watcher said.

An executive from Kakao Corp., operator of the mobile messenger, recently said the response from Kakao users was “quite positive,” hinting that the firm may deploy similar marketing tactics down the road.

The promotions at the football stadium were planned by the Korean firm's partner Friendster Inc., a social networking service firm based in Malaysia, and its parent company MOL Global, an online payment service company.

Tan Sri Vincent Tan, the owner of Cardiff City FC, is a principal shareholder of MOL Global.

Vincent Tan has expressed keen interest in the Korean mobile messenger, and is said to have vowed to support Kakao in increasing its presence in Southeast Asia and Europe.

Kakao Corp. and Friendster signed an exclusive partnership deal to launch the Kakao platform in Malaysia.

Different types of mobile services from those available in Korea can be introduced in the UK market as Kakao's co-CEO Lee Sir-goo recently hinted that the firm could provide different services that fit each regional market, reflecting various cultural aspects.

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Lee Jae-Beom, CEO of Kakao Talk, poses in front of KAKAO Company's logo in Seoul on July, 13, 2011.

(AFP)

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