Dust off that old account, Cyworld is making a comeback
Cyworld, once Korea's most popular social network and one of the very first in the world, is about to make a comeback.
According to Cyworld Z, a corporation established by a consortium of five local entertainment films, on Tuesday, the company has bought the Cyworld service from former CEO Jun Je-wan for 1 billion won ($897,000).
The company plans to bring back Cyworld in March after two weeks of beta testing. It also added that a mobile version of the social network service will be introduced sometime in the first half of the year.
Established in 1999, Cyworld was the most popular social network service among Koreans — it is generally recognized as the world's first mass social network. It quickly gained popularity with its virtual living room, called a minihompy — equivalent to Facebook’s Timeline — for each user.
The virtual room allowed users to create diaries, publish images, network and stream music.
With its fast-growing popularity, the number of users of the service reached 32 million in 2009 — more than half of the population of Korea.
But with newer overseas social networks like Facebook and Instagram growing in popularity and quickly adapting to smartphones, the PC-based Cyworld couldn't keep up.
Many attempts to resuscitate the service have failed over the years, including 5 billion won of investment from Samsung Venture Investment in 2017.
The National Tax Service revoked the business registration of Cyworld, the company that formerly owned the service, in May last year after it constantly failed to pay withheld tax. On the tax agency’s website, the company has been shown as closed since May 26.
Former CEO Jun is currently standing trial for withholding his 29 employees’ wages and severance pay, totaling about 890 million won.
“[With the 1 billion won] Jun solved some 80 percent of the overdue wages as of Jan. 29,” Cyworld Z said. "Currently Jun can't reach the rest of the employees, but he has been exerting all efforts to find them and pay the remaining 20 percent."
BY HONG JU-HEE, CHEA SARAH [firstname.lastname@example.org]