Maps in more languages
English, Chinese online maps will be soon in Korea.
Getting around in Korea for foreigners should prove easier next year with the arrival of foreign language services on two of Korea's largest online map services. The Naver web portal and Kakao messaging client are scheduled to release foreign language versions of their map services prior to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. Naver is planning on offering English and Chinese versions of their maps while Kakao Maps will become available in English.
Naver first plans to release its English version, which will include all administrative areas and buildings named in English, with business name searches in English also possible. After that is introduced, a Chinese version will be released with adjustments based on user reactions. Specific dates for both have not been confirmed.
Kakao, meanwhile, is aiming for its English maps to debut by the end of this year. Their service is expected to mimic the functions for what is already available in Korean, including finding ways by public transportation and on foot. Additionally, the Kakao service is expected to automatically convert to English should a user's smartphone settings already be defaulted to the English language. The Kakao Navi app is also expected to provide English voice service.
Naver Maps and Kakao Maps are two major map service apps in Korea. Studies conducted in February by Wiseapp, an app analyzer, revealed that 8.08 million monthly active users (those who use the service at least once a month) utilized Naver Maps, while 7.66 million monthly active users utilized Kakao Maps through Android-based smartphones.
Currently, directional service and navigation functions through United States-based Google Maps, considered one of the biggest mapping services in the world, is restricted in Korea. Once Naver and Kakao Map services begin their English and Chinese services, however, convenience for foreign residents and tourists in Korea is expected to greatly improve.