Is South Korea Finally Opening Up to Facebook?

[Editor’s Note: The data cited in this article is excerpted from Inside Facebook Gold, our membership service; the article was also previously printed on Inside Facebook.]

Asia is an exploding presence on Facebook. In this month’s Global Monitor report, in which we track Facebook’s growth around the world, five of the top six countries gaining the most new monthly active users were Asian.

But not every country in the region has caught the wave. Japan is a well-known holdout, with its own strong social networks preventing Facebook’s growth. According to conventional wisdom, South Korea is another tech-savvy country that Facebook simply can’t break into, in large part because of the game-oriented social networks that already hold sway there.

South Korea’s recent growth tells a different story. In the most recent month, June, it added 211,280 monthly active users to Facebook, which equates to 23.5 percent growth. During the previous month, May, it added 183,020 new MAU, which was a growth of 25.6 percent.

This acceleration has been taking place throughout the year; in the last three months, South Korea’s Facebook userbase has more than doubled to its present 1,108,840 users. Below is a graph showing the country’s growth.

Drawing in a significant number of South Koreans would be a significant testament to Facebook’s power. At current growth rates, the country could have over 10 million Facebook users by next summer, according to our projections.

However, the question remains as to whether Facebook can overcome the resistance of native social networks, led by Cyworld, which itself failed to cross over to the United States. Depending on what South Korea’s users are coming for, it may be possible for Facebook to coexist with Cyworld and others; the country is notoriously game-addicted, and the fact that roughly 80 percent of South Korea’s users are under 35 suggests that games may be their motivation for visiting Facebook.

Full data on Facebook’s audience growth throughout Europe and in countries around the world is presented in the July 2010 edition of the Facebook Global Monitor report, available through Inside Facebook Gold. An Inside Facebook Gold membership also includes data on language growth, audience demographics by country, and user behavior stats for the Facebook business ecosystem. To learn more about membership, please visit Inside Facebook Gold.