Line app installations spike in Korea amid backlash against Japanese pressure

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : May 30, 2024, 16:11 Updated : May 30, 2024, 23:23
This screenshot image was captured from Lines website
This screenshot image was taken from Line's website.
SEOUL, May 30 (AJU PRESS) - New installations of Naver Corp.'s mobile messaging app, Line, have surged in Korea in recent weeks, in an apparent backlash against Japan's pressure on the company to sell down its stake in a joint venture running the app in Japan.

Last week, the number of Line installations reached 61,640, outpacing the country's dominant KakaoTalk (56,771) for the third consecutive week, according to data released by mobile big data company IGA Works. Line topped the chart in the category of social media messenger, voice call and video call.

Launched in June 2011 by Naver, Line has grown to reach 96 million monthly active users (MAU) in Japan alone and 200 million users across Asia, including Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia. In Korea, however, it has trailed behind KakaoTalk.

During the fourth week of April, Line surpassed KakaoTalk in terms of new downloads for the first time since mid-November 2022. The trend reversed the following week but Line began to outnumber its rival again in the first week of May.

Pedestrians walk past the Line Friends Flagship Store in Gangnam southern district of Seoul on May 14 2024 The store sells various products featuring characters from the LINE app AJU PRESS Park Jong-hyeok
Pedestrians walk past the Line Friends Flagship Store in Seoul's southern district of Gangnam on May 14, 2024. The store sells various products featuring characters from mobile messaging app LINE. AJU PRESS Park Jong-hyeok

The spike came amid growing concerns that Line might fall under Japanese control. After a significant data breach at Line in late 2023, Japanese authorities issued administrative guidance, directing LY Corp (LYC), the operator of the messaging app, to review its capital relationship with Naver. LYC is owned by A Holdings, a 50:50 joint venture between Naver and Softbank.

Korea's politicians and civic groups urged Japan not to take unfair measures. During a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Seoul on Sunday, President Yoon Suk Yeol emphasized the importance of handling the incident carefully to prevent unnecessary tensions between the two nations.

Meanwhile, KakaoTalk encountered a series of disruptions from mid-May, causing significant inconvenience to users. 

On May 13, some KakaoTalk users experienced instability in sending and receiving messages and logging in on PC for about six minutes. Similar issues occurred on May 20 and 21.
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