Search engine Google launched a Korean version of the popular online video platform YouTube on Wednesday.
"Korea is an interesting market and has such a fantastic IT (information technology) infrastructure that you just have to be here," the head of YouTube's international activities, Sakina Ariswala, was quoted by The Korea Herald newspaper as saying.
In future, South Koreans will be able to search for Korean video content at http://kr.youtube.com and upload Korean-language video to the site, in the same way their US counterparts can in the United States.
Customers will also have access to the complete video library, Ariswala said.
In order to expand YouTube's global offering with content from local companies, the company has entered into a series of partnerships with South Korean media firms, like mgoon.com, SM Online, CJ Media and JoongAng Broadcasting, Ariswala said.
The partnership network would also be expanded in future, she said.
Here is the release from Google:
YouTube, the world's most popular online video-sharing website, launched a localized service in South Korea Wednesday to capitalism on the country's fast-growing user-created content market.
Sakina Ariswala, head of YouTube's international operation, said it has secured content from local companies for its Korean operation to supplement the vast collection of the US-based operation.
"South Korea is a very interesting market," Ariswala told Yonhap news agency, citing its well-established IT infrastructure.
The company's main focus is first to build global communities and then consider how to make a profit, she said. YouTube now provides localized services in 19 countries.
Users can upload, view, and share video clips through YouTube, which was bought by the world's top Internet search engine Google in 2006.
YouTube became well known in South Korea after a video clip of a self-taught amateur Korean guitarist playing Pachelbel's "Canon in D" received more than 36 million clicks worldwide last year.
But it faces tough competition with home-grown user-created content sites, which have dominated the local market.
Yonhap quoted Lee Won-Jin, CEO of Google Korea, as saying the launch of YouTube here would help spread the country's popular culture and video content worldwide.
Google launched a Korean-language search site in 2000 but has been striving to boost its presence against competition from local firms in one of the world's most wired societies.
Some 70 percent of Korean homes have high-speed Internet access but most prefer local search engines.