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Tech firms offer special Seollal services

Companies give users free money, top tips and even a route home
Feb 15,2018
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A message from Kakao Pay offers a user a 1 won (0.09 cent) gift. [KIM JEE-HEE]
Korea’s Seollal, or Lunar New Year, holiday begins today, with tech companies and mobile carriers offering freebies and special content to give the season a digital twist.



Cashing in

Kakao Pay, a mobile payment service under chat app operator Kakao, is offering extra cash to users transferring money until Feb. 19.

The app will gift every user that transfers money over the holiday period with a small amount of cash. The size of the gift is randomly chosen, although every possible prize uses numbers connected to the Seollal celebration, such as 2,018 won ($1.87).

To take advantage of the offer, users have to use one of the special digital envelopes designed by Kakao with New Year’s greetings written on them when transferring the money. The envelope can simply be selected by checking on the “use envelopes” option while using the app.

When the reporter tried the feature, Kakao Pay credited the account with 1 won, offering the New Year’s message, “Always be on top.”

The Kakao Pay app is currently compatible with accounts at 20 commercial banks and securities firms including Woori Bank, KB Kookmin Bank and Kakao Bank.

KakaoPage, a mobile content streaming platform, is also offering free streaming of one movie every day from Friday through Sunday. On Friday, recently launched Korean movie “Steel Rain” will be available for free, on Saturday “Thor: Ragnarok” will be offered and on Sunday film fans can enjoy “I Can Speak.”



Holiday hints

Naver is also getting into the Seollal spirit, updating traffic and weather information as well as providing information about special holiday events on a website dedicated to Seollal news from today.

The portal site also plans to introduce Seollal-specific content throughout its online advice forums, offering holiday tips and tricks relevant to individual sections such as food, health, movies, shopping and kids.

In the food section, the company will of course include the all-important recipes crucial for the traditional Korean holiday like tteokguk, a Korean rice cake soup. The health section will include advice on how to handle the stress of overbearing in-laws, while the kids section will offer first aid advice for when playtime with cousins gets a little out of hand.

There are other smaller apps with practical tips for Seollal.

The Master of Jesa app, offered in Korean, offers a guide for Korean households preparing for jesa, or the ancestral ritual. There are specific spots on the jesa table where each dish of fruit, rice and meat must be placed and the app could prove to be a lifesaver for busy families that have forgotten the exact positioning.

Another app, dubbed Happy Tree: Family Tree, helps users remember the complicated familial titles for each member of their extended family.



Homeward bound

SK Telecom, the operator of T Map, launched a special upgrade on Tuesday in time for the Seollal holiday.

This upgrade focuses on safety, according to the mobile carrier. Based on the so-called vehicle-to-everything technology that will connect self-driving cars to each other, SK Telecom has connected the T Map systems so that vehicles can effectively warn each other of accidents and obstructions.

According to the company, if the T Map navigation system detects that the car has braked abruptly, it will alert other T Map systems up to a kilometer behind it on the same road. A warning message will pop up to warn of the upcoming danger.

Kakao Mobility’s Kakao Navi has also upgraded its big data service to better predict traffic patterns for users preparing to drive home for the holiday. According to Kakao Navi analysis, it will be best for drivers to leave on Wednesday night or Thursday night if they are headed outside of Seoul. When they head back to the capital, they are recommended to try driving on Saturday night or Sunday morning to avoid heavy traffic.

Both apps are gearing up for the Seollal rush with extra staff and servers to provide a seamless service throughout the busy holiday season as desperate drivers try to find a route home.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]