The Korea Herald


Kakao, SK C&C begin quiet dispute over data center shutdown

Simmering tensions likely to lead to legal disputes over damage compensation

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : Oct. 18, 2022 - 15:34

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Logos of Kakao (left) and SK C&C (Provided by each company) Logos of Kakao (left) and SK C&C (Provided by each company)

Kakao Corp. and SK C&C on Tuesday voiced subtle differences over how the weekend server outage went down at the SK facility -- which houses Kakao’s data center -- foreshadowing possibilities of future legal disputes over damage compensation.

According to each company’s officials, SK C&C claimed that only some of the electricity to the data room containing Kakao’s servers were cut off by the fire, while Kakao insisted that a majority of its servers at SK C&C’s building was down from the fire’s initial moments.

The fire at the SK building in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, broke out in an electrical room on the third basement level at 3:19 p.m. on Saturday as one of the batteries in the room caught fire due to sparks.

According to an SK C&C official, only a few sectors were disconnected from power due to the fire. The official said the rest of the servers were still connected to power as the fire authorities tried to put out the fire using only extinguishing agents in the form of cooling gas.

But the fire authorities could not tame the fire with just the cooling gas. They decided to use water and asked SK C&C to shut down the entire building. The fire authorities notified Kakao officials, who were present on site, of the decision, according to the SK C&C official. Once SK C&C turned off the electricity, all servers at the data center were down.

A Kakao official told The Korea Herald that the company is still trying to confirm how SK C&C let Kakao know of the fire authorities’ decision to use water.

“A majority of Kakao servers were already shut down right after the fire broke out,” the official added, indicating that the company could not access the servers from the early stages of the fire.

Meanwhile, Kakao and SK C&C appeared to have begun another quiet showdown over damage compensation from the blackout.

Kakao on Monday announced in a public notice to its investors that the company plans to engage in talks with SK C&C over damage compensation for the losses of Kakao and its major subsidiaries once the services are completely normalized. SK C&C said it was not yet in talks with Kakao about the notice or damage compensation discussions.

An SK C&C official, however, said the company is not trying to play the blame game with Kakao, acknowledging the fact that a fire broke out at its building was its own fault.

“Why would we try to get into unnecessary arguments with Kakao? They are our customers,” the official added.

According to survey firm Real Research Korea, 42.4 percent of the 1,148 respondents said SK C&C should be held responsible for the fire, while 54.9 percent said Kakao should take the blame for it