Under-fire Kakao offers beta version of VoiceTalk

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Under-fire Kakao offers beta version of VoiceTalk

The mobile messenger service KakaoTalk launched a beta version of its free phone call service VoiceTalk for local users yesterday, after taking flak for only launching the service overseas.

“As many users are enthusiastic about this particular service, we’ve decided that we’ll start by testing the service. But we are still not sure when the official launch of the full service in Korea is going to be,” said Lee Su-jin, a spokeswoman for KakaoTalk. The move came after the head of Kakao’s board of directors said last week, the company is working on providing a free calling service in the country this year.

With the exception of Korea, the service was launched worldwide at the end of last month. Kim Beom-su, head of the board, said Korean mobile carriers are resistant to the idea as they fear the free service might overload phone networks. Kim was talking to reporters at an event commemorating 30 years of Internet service in Korea.

Kakao has also acquired yesterday, a search engine venture called Thinkreals that deals with local e-commerce sites.

“We want to offer a whole range of services, but we need more program developers,” said Lee. He said recent business tie-ups were providing “options to work on more diverse business platforms.”

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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