MySpace went live in South Korea today — and head to head with some of the toughest social network competition out there. Forget Facebook, as I heard and saw during my too-brief trip to South Korea a few months ago. The competition here comes in the form of Cyworld, for instance, omnipresent across platforms, and in an extremely loyal local market. So makes MySpace think it will do better in South Korea with http://kr.myspace.com/ than Cyworld did in the U.S.? AP points to considerable efforts to create a version of MySpace for South Korea, not just a Korean translation. MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe, who went to Seoul for the launch, played up the idea of MySpace as a bridge, not an island, and a new feature that sounds like a twitter-blog of sorts — Minilog, aimed at Korean youths to capture quick thoughts in a few hundred characters.
According to AP, DeWolfe told a forum at Yonsei University that other companies have failed to sufficiently pay heed to local culture. MySpace hopes to avoid those pitfalls: “We’ve done a lot of studies on what went wrong with those companies and why.” The MySpace design has been refined with more pleasing colors and notepaper styling. The site is mostly Korean but users can switch. (It’s tricky: I came in through MySpace.com, clicked through to the Korean site and then, when I clicked on the About Page of the English guide to MySpace International, wound up with a Korean version.) Next up: MySpace India.
AOL (NYSE: TWX) Hong Kong: On the heels of its announcement of a Taiwan version, AOL has just launched AOL.hk with free e-mail and AIM in Chinese, AOL Search powered by Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and enhanced for Chinese, and video search from AOL’s Truveo specifically for Hong Kong. The HK beta includes partnerships with regional content providers Phoenix New Media, China News and others. It also is supposed to have a Chinese feed from AOL’s Engadget but that’s marked “coming soon” for now. Norman Koo is AOL’s VP & GM for Greater China.