The Huffington Post Korea opened its official website Friday amid rising expectations about its possible impact on the country’s blogosphere and online news industry.
The website, unveiled early Friday, featured a mix of Korean-language news from local media outlets and blog posts from a dozen contributors, with all the familiar page structures and trappings of Huffington Post’s U.S. edition.
Arianna Huffington, chair and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, joined the press conference to help promote the Korean edition, a joint endeavor with the Hankyoreh, a local daily newspaper, and she reaffirmed her negative view on the possible payment for the contribution by bloggers.
“Nobody’s forced to write on the Huffington Post, so I think it’s absurd to say that they’re ripped off when it’s entirely their choice. They want to write, they write, if they don’t want to write, they don’t write,” Huffington said.
But the Korean edition of Huffington Post, at least initially, came as a combination of news and blogs, not a specialized site for bloggers. Many of the articles and pictures came from Yonhap News and other local media, and Huffington said this was paid for under license agreements with the Korean media outlets.
At the news conference, Huffington Post CEO Jimmy Maymann said the U.S. online media company has long considered expanding into the Korean market.
“Korea has a lot of the ingredients that we’re looking for, when we’re bringing HuffPost into a market,” he said, citing Korea’s fast and reliable Internet connection, the country’s proven use of the Internet to consume online media and plenty of time spent consuming online news.
Maymann also stressed that Korea is a market fast adopting social media such as Twitter and Facebook, the two dominant mobile platforms that deliver viral content for smartphones and tablet PCs. He did not, however, address the fact that Korea’s blogging sector was sluggish, after booming several years ago.
Korean media, both print and online, and bloggers are closely watching the Huffington Post Korea, especially regarding whether it will start a game-changing trend in online news, which is increasingly shaped by social media.
By Suh Ye-seul (email@example.com