South Korea’s digital ecosystem, from its social networking service (SNS) and e-commerce platforms to its consumer and digital marketing trends, is unique in the region. Unlike other parts of the world that are dominated by international bigwigs, such as Google, Apple, or Facebook, South Koreans have never felt the need to look outside of their own country for their internet and social networking needs. They have their own home-grown digital giants to choose from, including the likes of Samsung, LG, Naver, and Kakao.

When it comes to digital and social network penetration, over 96% of people in South Korea have access to the internet. 5G services in the country are mature, and the South Korean population is the second-most active in the world in terms of social media use. For brands doing business in South Korea, these figures translate into one key insight:

South Koreans are some of the most digitally-savvy consumers in the world, with social media playing a key role in their lifestyle and communication preferences.

So, how big is KakaoTalk in South Korea?

It’s fair to say that KakaoTalk is synonymous with South Korean living. If the proverbial phrase "big fish in a small pond" had a physical manifestation, KakaoTalk would probably be it. If you haven’t heard of the service, think Amazon tagged with the convenience of your favorite chat app, along with the cutest, most user-friendly mobile interface that keeps people texting about anything under the sun.

Having captured over 97.5% of South Korea’s population and recording over 46 million monthly active users, the big Kakao fish is thriving in this East Asian peninsula. Its sheer dominance has steamrolled over its competitors in the domestic market, with second-place finisher Instagram taking up just 29.5% of the mobile user pie—despite its success virtually everywhere else within OECD nations. But KakaoTalk’s prowess isn’t just about its massive user numbers.

Kakao, the homegrown tech conglomerate behind KakaoTalk, is deeply entrenched in all aspects of South Korean life. From the day-to-day services like transportation and banking to a wide range of audio and visual entertainment, Kakao caters to a diverse online mosaic of audience demographics with virtually every interest under the sun. This makes the Kakao brand—and by extension the KakaoTalk platform—inseparable from South Koreans’ lifestyle.

And Kakao’s reach is not confined to South Korea’s borders alone. Kakao Games and Kakao Webtoon, the respective gaming and webcomic arms of Kakao, have established their markets across Asia. Half of the top ten most popular games in Southeast Asia come from South Korea’s domestic market (e.g. Battlegrounds Mobile Lite), while Kakao Webtoons topped webcomics download charts in Thailand and Taiwan just a year after its inception.

With South Korea just recording its largest GDP growth in 11 years, and the Kakao-dominated South East Asian gaming market growing 10% year-on-year, KakaoTalk promises to be a surprisingly versatile wildcard for any business looking for a breakthrough messaging app within the APAC region. And of course, it's a no-brainer for businesses looking to connect with consumers in the South Korean market.

Integrating KakaoTalk into your business communications is easy

You may be thinking, “I’m already juggling so many communication channels right now. Do I really need to add another one into the mix?” If you’re hoping to make any headway into the South Korean market, the clear answer is: Yes. Because of the platform’s ubiquitous presence in the lives of South Koreans, there’s no better way to create a presence or build customer relationships in the market than through KakaoTalk. No other chat app comes close.

The good news is that integrating it into your channel mix is simple and straightforward. First, you’ll need to sign up for a Business KakaoTalk Channel via the Kakao for Business page. While registration is free, you will need to submit some local documents, including a Korean business registration number, to upgrade your Business KakaoTalk Channel (8x8 can help you with this). Upgrading will unlock additional features, such as verified badges, search priority, and push notifications for improved customer outreach and engagement.

As for your day-to-day channel management, there’s an easy solution to streamline your workflows, personalize engagement, and boost customer experiences: the 8x8 Chat Apps API.

One API to integrate KakaoTalk and more

With so many messaging apps in the market, why limit yourself to only one or two? The 8x8 Chat Apps API gives you single-point access to seven channels, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber, Zalo, SMS—and KakaoTalk. That means no more toggling between platforms and wasting time on coordinating complex workflows to engage customers on different apps. Send everything, e.g. customer support messages, marketing alerts, or service notifications, to any customer on any chat app using a single API. The best part? The same API can even be integrated into popular CRM platforms, such as Zendesk, Salesforce, Freshdesk, and Microsoft Dynamics, to improve customer service quality.

And if you don’t have an existing CRM platform for managing customer conversations, 8x8 Converse offers everything you need. With a unified dashboard, 8x8 Converse provides a bird’s eye view of all chat app communications. It also provides service desk agents with all the tools that they need, including ticket management, queue monitoring, service report, analysis, and more.

Into the future with KakaoTalk

With its many value-added features, KakaoTalk is by far the most popular social app in South Korea. More importantly, its parent company Kakao has ambitions to expand its empire and conquer the global market, including plans to continually expand its ecosystem of services. Probably the most anticipated of these is KakaoPage, a content distribution and monetization platform that seeks to establish a foothold across the United States, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia by 2022.

For businesses looking to build customer trust and relationships in South Korea, having a presence on KakaoTalk is critical to success. And with Kakao’s many regional and global expansion plans in the works, there’s a very real possibility that KakaoTalk’s influence and user base will grow exponentially in the near future—a trend that will only benefit companies that are already early adopters of the platform.

If you’re looking to grow your brand presence in South Korea and beyond, we would love to help you get ahead. Contact us at to find out more about how 8x8 Chat Apps API and 8x8 Converse can help you fuel business expansion and break into new markets.