Finding Liberation Online

Further to my earlier post about Lina Yoon’s piece on Korean ‘blogging’, here’s a taster to convince you to take out a subscription to, or go out and buy a copy of today’s AWSJ: – Finding Liberation Online 

SEOUL — In the real world, Kim Min Jung is an introverted secretary who finds it difficult talking to people she doesn’t know. When speaking, she often covers her face with her hands. On the Internet, though, the 28-year-old is no shrinking violet. On her personal Web site, Ms. Kim entertains about 1,200 visitors a day with plot summaries and witty commentaries on TV shows and movies. Online, she says, “I feel more confident expressing myself.”

In South Korea, centuries of patriarchal Confucian tradition have taught women to be deferential and reserved. But the country is also one of the most technologically advanced in the world, creating opportunities for women to freely express themselves in ways not yet seen in many other Asian societies. One of the most popular online avenues for women is Cyworld, an Internet community used by 14 million people — a little over one-quarter of the population of South Korea — that’s set to launch in the U.S. and other parts of Asia later in the year.

It’s just a short piece but does a great job looking at a very interesting phenomenon that may or may not take off elsewhere. Here’s some more detail on Ms. Kim that we had to cut for space:

For Ms. Kim, the secretary, expressing herself verbally remains difficult, but she finds herself becoming more popular in the office, with co-workers sending her ideas for her site.

Now, for a monthly fee of $30,000 to $40,000, companies are creating their own minihomepies to connect with younger female consumers. AmorePacific, a maker of beauty and skincare products in South Korea, started one for LaNeige Girl, a cosmetic line aimed at women aged 18 to 22. AmorePacific marketing executive An Yoo Shin says the site attracted 400,000 simultaneous viewers one day last year after a promotion offered anyone visiting the site at 5 p.m. a free background image of the LaNeige Girl character.

Now go and buy the paper.

How To Get A Good Idea Part II

Nowadays I get three days in the office to do part of my job, editing The Asian Wall Street Journal’s print edition of the Personal Journal (great piece in tomorrow’s edition, by the way, on South Korean female blogging by Lina Yoon (I noticed the Sydney Morning Herald also did something on this earlier this month, as observed by Smartmobs’ Jim Downing).)

Anyway, three days in the office, two days doing my column. I’m not an office guy. No great idea ever occurred to me in the office. No great idea ever really occurred to me period, but especially not in the office. For me you’ve got to be outside. You’ve got to walk around, you’ve got to see things, you’ve got to talk to fresh people, observe weirdos doing their thing, be somewhere you can think. But it’s interesting how divided my colleagues are on this. They like to work late, but not take anything home with them. Others are like me, they look like they’re strangers in a cubicle, camping out until there’s a decent opportunity to flee. Others look like they live there. I find the office good for hammering things out, but mine isn’t really a hammering-things-out type job, so maybe it’s all about the kind of job you’re doing. There’s hammering, and there’s getting ideas.

Anyway, roundabout way of saying you can tell what day it is by the number of off-the-wall posts Loose Wire gets. If there are too many, it’s probably Thursday or Friday.