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Craigslist expands community to Seoul

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Mar 06,2005
Expatriates in Korea have a new place to exchange information after Craigslist.org, a network of regional community Web sites with millions of users around the world, recently opened a Seoul site. Craigslist (www.craigslist. org) is a huge online bulletin board where people can look for houses, buy things, sell things, seek partners of all kinds, post jokes, hunt for jobs, or rant or rave about random things. Craigslist was created in 1995 when Craig Newmark, then a Java and Web programmer in San Francisco, sent out e-mails to his friends to let them know about local events. Soon, the mailing list got so long that he decided to post it on the Web. He then created software that linked the e-mail postings to one Web site. In 1997, Mr. Newmark decided to maintain the site as a non-profit operation. Companies in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York that want to post a job ad must pay a small fee, but the site is free to all users, requiring no registration except for certain community forums, and carries no ads. Currently, Craigslist has 99 city sites around the world, drawing 7.5 million users and 1.8 billion page views per month. In the United States, it is one of the top 20 Internet companies in terms of English-language page views, according to the marketing research firm Nielsen/NetRatings. The organization, which is run out of San Francisco, has 18 employees, who deal with technical matters and customer service. Craigslist Seoul (seoul. craigslist.org) officially opened on Feb. 27 and is offered only in English. So far, only a handful of users have started posting there, most of them in the “Personals” section, such as the tall 26-year-old American teacher looking for a Korean woman although he cannot speak Korean and the 37-year-old “good looking and disease-free” man looking for a friend to hang out with in southern Seoul. There are several community sites for expatriates in Korea already, such as Kscene or the former Seoul Classified magazine and Web site. The Seoul Freecycle Network is a Web board that allows people to trade used goods, but it is based as a community within Yahoo and has fewer than 100 registered members. Peter Schroepfer, a professional translator and San Francisco native who now lives permanently in Korea, says Craigslist is just what foreigners in Korea need. In fact, he has been preparing his own “Korealist.org,” which is not in service yet. Requests from people like Mr. Schroepfer led to Craigslist’s opening in Seoul, said chief executive Jim Buckmaster. “Also, Seoul is one of the world’s most populous cities and has an extremely high Internet usage rate,” he said. Mr. Buckmaster added that Craigslist is fully prepared to take on new Internet users in Korea. “With 1.8 billion page views per month, we’re accustomed to dealing with high traffic,” he said. by Wohn Dong-hee


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