This comment came as Google considers strengthening its ties to Daum Communications Corp., a South Korean search engine. “Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Daum CEO Seok Jong-hoon discussed cooperating in Internet search services and Daum’s user-created video content service,” reports the International Herald Tribune.
In fact, Google has already done some cooperating in Korea. In addition to the company’s previous relationship with Daum (which involved paid search results), Google AdSense’s terms of service have been tweaked in the region. Then, about two weeks ago, it was discovered that users would have to enter their name and the Korean version of a social security number before searching for any “adult” subjects. This process isn’t as insidious as it sounds, but it still proves Google’s willingness to conform.
Which brings us back to why Google is buttering up the country. According to Pashupathy, who exchanged emails with the Yonhap News Agency, “Korean computer science talent is an important reason why Google is in Korea. The sophistication of educational institutions, the broad range of research at universities, established IP protection system, along with interest and practical experience in Internet technologies make this (South Korea) an important talent base for Google.”
I’m sure that South Korea’s large population of Internet users also makes it an attractive market. But if Google’s preparing to make some new concession in order to gain a foothold, that “very critical role” comment may come off as a justification, rather than a freely spoken compliment.