KakaoTalk, LINE, WeChat (카카오톡,라인, 위챗)

LINE .jpg

For all millennials out there what is your favorite way to message your friends, BF/GF, or general contacts?   For me, prior to the smart phone it was calling & limited mobile texting.  However, since my college years I began using free WiFi enabled messaging applications to communicate and connect with everyone in my social circles.

My usage of messaging applications really started between 2012-2013. At the time I was preparing for my move to Seoul and learned from some of my close DC grad school friends that downloading the popular free-calling & messaging app known as KakaoTalk would be beneficial for staying in touch with friends both overseas, and communicating easily with friends in Seoul.

I had never heard of KaoTalk(short name version) prior to preparing to move to Seoul. However, I soon discovered that it was a Korean mobile app that was the no.1 app in all of Korea. Wanting to follow the locals I began to use KaoTalk as my go-to app for connecting with people and staying in touch with new acquaintances, classmates, and Korean friends. Throughout my school life in Korea I used KaoTalk majorly for communicating with/following group chats between my Korea University (KU) foreign friends,  my Korean language partners, my ex-BF, and even some of my Korean co-workers & employers (*yes, in some Korean offices your boss may feel close enough with you to contact you on a messenger). 

I enjoyed using KaoTalk for one full year until I realized I started receiving numerous random spam messages from strangers, and was unable to block them.  Additionally, post-graduation many of my KU friends were returning home or moving to other countries & were no longer interested in keeping KaoTalk. So, during mid-2014 I decided to return to LINE.

LINE app is a messaging application that first launched in 2011, which similar to KaoTalk.  Just like KaoTalk you can make and receive free calls and text messages. Previously, using the app on my old iPod Nano to connect with my Japanese-speaking friends I re-downloaded the app once again onto my smart phone. My reason for this was primarily due to my idol usage of KaoTalk after falling out of touch with many KaoTalk contacts; and the rising usage of LINE back home in the states.  For those who do not know the origin of LINE – it was developed by Korean engineers who worked for the internet server company NAVER. However, their breakthrough in developing an application accessible on all smart handheld/ pc devices in Japan led to the creation of LINE Corporation. Presently,  a popular app in Japan and a few other Asia nations LINE  became my new primary go-to app.

After I started using LINE I was able to re-connect with some of my American friends who were also using the app. It was nice to freely text my American friends once again and catch up with them in real-time.

Brown & Cony: LINE’s fav couple duo

My usage of the app grew even more due to LINE expanding more and connecting with U.S. companies, artists, etc. and protecting its users from random advertising and spam users. In addition LINE eventually became the primary communication app between me and my boyfriend. My boyfriend had actually had never used LINE until meeting me.When we first met we communicated using another application, however, due to my growing usage of LINE my boyfriend joined LINE too.  As couple-users, LINE has become one of my favorite communication apps.

What I love most about the app is LINE’s cast of characters who have diverse and humorous personalities, which are comically displayed via LINE’s expansive emoticon selection. In addition to its icon characters LINE has many decorative themes and stickers for users to choose from catered to all tastes and ages. On top of that LINE has many supportive apps such as LINE camera, LINE Games, Snap Movie, and recently launched LINE Pay to allow users to enjoy sharing, capturing moments, and paying for items electronically via mobile device. Lastly, LINE Corporation launched official LINE stores to market their characters and focus on meeting users tastes in all areas from stationary items, clothing, household goods, makeup, food, drinks, etc.  Last year LINE stores officially opened in Korea. Surprisingly huge crowds turned out for store launches in Sinsa-dong and Myeongdong in Seoul. With the expansion of LINE outlets across Asia I am sure the number of LINE users in Asia and in Korea have  increased. But, I believe KaoTalk still remains the dominant app for communication in Korea.

Sinsa-dong, Seoul LINE store opening in Spring 2015 ~ very crowded with a long wait line extending down the block

This year I recently started using another free-calling & messaging app called WeChat.  Unbeknownst to me prior to downloading was the origins of WeChat. WeChat is app that was developed by the company known as Tencent in China. The development of the the app was primarily due to enhancing communicative means for social and business purposes. WeChat currently  holds the world’s highest user ratings with over 700 million active users.

I  am not a frequent user of the app due to trying to maintain only one app for personal usage. My only reason for downloading WeChat was for work purposes solely. I use WeChat to check into work, send messages to co-workers & supervisors, message students I work with, and send/receive work-related news updates. In the era we live in this non-traditional form of communication seems to be becoming a new norm. For my job in particular my work space is in multiple locations and I work with multiple staff in these locations. Due to this an easy-to-use communication platform was adopted for work purposes. Additionally, the program I work for largely communicates with many Chinese-based Wechat users, which is why WeChat was chosen as the preferred app for usage.

brown and cony pic.jpg

My experience with each free-calling & messaging app has been different. KaoTalk I used majorly as a communication tool for all people I had met in Korea. However, by my second year abroad I became an idol user due to increase spam and random invites into group chats with strangers. For LINE, I downloaded the app due to news of LINE expanding onto the US market and LINE’s push to appeal to Western-based users. Additionally, as mentioned I used LINE to reconnect to some Japanese-speaking friends and my friends overall back in the states.  I also have been using LINE as my main line of communication with my boyfriend. Finally, there’s WeChat. Til this day I am still trying to better grasp some of the different features WeChat offers that I have yet to see on LINE or KaoTalk. However, maintaining a separation of personal & work apps I spend way too little time on the WeChat to accurately comment on its features. Overall, I would say that among the three apps on my phone LINE has certainly won me over.

KakaoTalk, LINE, WhatsApp, WeChat (Chart Info Sources: each company)

What app is your go-to app among these four on the chart above? Which is your fave and why?

*Note: The majority of content pictures posted on this specific blog post are not entirely owned by the Yeppunshikan author, full credit is given to the respective trademark companies.


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