Threat of government surveillance has KakaoTalk losing users to German-based app

October 8, 2014
South Koreans may be switching to Telegram as an alternative to Kakao Talk. (Yonhap)

South Koreans may be switching to Telegram as an alternative to Kakao Talk. (Yonhap)

By The Korea Times Los Angeles staff

When President Park Geun-hye announced two weeks ago that the South Korean government planned to monitor private messages, including those occurring via KakaoTalk, South Korean users reconsidered their stance on privacy.

The move by President Park was a reaction to the increasing public criticisms she had been receiving and an attempt to quell any false rumors.

KakaoTalk users looked towards alternatives that would guarantee privacy and by chance, Telegram, German-based messaging app, steadily siphoned approximately 1.5 million users towards its well-encrypted service within the past 7 days according to company’s own reports.

KakaoTalk still has a user base of over 35 million users, but in response to the rapid shift, Telegram released a Korean language version on Oct. 7.

The faster Telegram adapts to the needs of South Korean users, the more users they’ll be able take from KakaoTalk.

The key features of Telegram that distinguish it from KakaoTalk is that it does not have any servers in South Korea, which means the South Korean government does not have any jurisdiction over Telegram’s databases.

Secondly, the app has a “secret chat” function that utilizes end-to-end encryption, which in simpler terms means that even Telegram can’t access these messages.

“Your dialogue records will not be open and secret conversations will not leave any trace on the server,” stated Telegram on their Twitter feed – a message most likely targeted to South Korean consumers. ”Our official apps guarantee the best security.”


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