By Park Ji-won
Korea, the most active importer of the video game StarCraft, is now trying to export its original content overseas through buying shares in foreign companies.
Two leading Korean online-based business areas ― Internet search-based service providers and game companies ― are tapping into the global market through buying shares in, and merging with, overseas companies that are seeking online and mobile services that may lead the game business in the future.
Daum Communications, an Internet-based service provider and operator of the No. 2 search engine, www.daum.net, partnered with Tapas Media, operator of the U.S.-based web comic portal Tapastic, on Jan. 20, aiming at making a foray into the North American comic market, the company announced.
The company bought shares in the media firm in December although it hasn't publicly announced specific figures.
"The move is the result of a long-time effort to expand into the North American market, where Tapas has a significant share of the Internet publication industry," said Lee Jae-seung at Daum Communications.
"This is our second attempt to expand overseas since our acquisition of Lycos. We hope this investment will bring us good business results."
Camp Mobile, the mobile-oriented business unit of Naver and operator of the nation's No. 1 Internet portal, www.naver.com, also purchased Taiwanese start-up Gogolook, which created a caller-identification service Whoscall, in December.
Naver introduced Whoscall to Korea on Jan. 9 in combination with its instant messenger service Line.
"We will make the most of Taiwan as our outpost in expanding market share there and in other countries," Camp Mobile CEO Park Jong-mahn said in a statement.
"We will actively introduce local human resources into our business, such as in setting our expansion strategy and in our marketing overseas."
The nation's online-based game-developers are also planting seeds for future businesses.
Japanese game-maker Nexon, which operates a large business in Korea, has started investing in foreign game companies as well.
Nexon purchased Japanese mobile-game-maker inBlue in June 2012, as well as one of the largest Japanese mobile-game-makers, gloops, for some 520 billion won in October 2012.
It also bought shares in four North American game-makers in 2013, namely Robotoki, SecretNewCo, Rumble Entertainment and Shiver Entertainment. The firm hasn't released specific figures regarding the shares and prices.
NC SOFT, a Korean online, video and mobile game developer, also purchased a 28 percent stake in Molten Games for some 6.7 billion won. Molten Games is headquartered in San Diego and founded by Hahn Jung-won, former chief of Blizzard Entertainment Korea.
CJ Group's entertainment and game unit, CJ E&M, which runs online game portal Netmarble, acquired a 50 percent stake in Turkish online and mobile game company Joygame for some 16 billion won.
"We cannot disclose the details, but the purchase is part of our efforts to expand our market in Europe with Netmarble," said Paek Seong-won at CJ E&M.
"The firms are trying to acquire local business channels or network between hardware and services through investments because although Korean firms are already equipped with advanced technologies in their online business content, they are lacking in these areas," said analyst Lee Seung-hoon at Taurus Investment & Securities.
"They are likely to continue to invest in top-tier or second-tier firms overseas as well as beef up their own capital."