In a land that pushes its digital boundaries more and more every day, it becomes more difficult to keep up in the offline world. Korea has not only the highest average internet speed (29 Mbps compared to the global average of 6.3 Mbps). Especially in the mobile area, the country takes on the leading role. 70% of the entire population uses mobile internet. With 43% of the population using their Smartphones for purchases, Korea leads the list of m-commerce worldwide.

Due to the high mobile penetration, the pattern of media usage in Korea is rapidly changing. Digital media is already replacing traditional media in consumption time, especially for newspapers and magazines.

To find out what this means for traditional media and how to face this challenge successfully, join us at our Digital Publishers’ Tour in April!

Seoul, Korea

April 23-26, 2017


The upcoming Digital Publishers’ Tour is a 3-day digital discovery of Korea’s new media, entrepreneurs, startups, media labs, and thought leaders.

  • Gain insights into an innovative and fast-paced market, that constantly monitors user behavior in order to adapt and continue to develop its digital media business models
  • Meet and discuss with the top management of large media companies, start-ups and incubators current challenges, trends and how to transform your traditional (media) business in a digital world
  • Experience close hand the most interesting companies and thought leaders from the Asian region and get ideas and food for thought for your own strategies.

Requested companies


Bookpal is one of the few mobile content sites that succeeded in persuading smartphone users to pay for mobile content either via pay per view or via subscription-based payment model. It is the favored mobile platform for aspiring young fiction writers to publish their online novels serially. Bookpal has somehow succeeded in turning initial free riders into paying customers by emulating the lessons it learned from the major subscription-based online games in South Korea: you are free to play games at beginner-level stage but if you want to join the league of advanced players, you will have to pay or buy some fancy arms. Bookpal has figured out some golden rules in the monetization of mobile content in terms of content design as well. The majority of the serial fictions it publishes are targeted at adults and storytelling is full of cliffhangers and key rules of page-turners. If you are dying to know what happened to protagonist NOW instead of waiting until the next week, pay now. This is one of the usual tactics favored by South Korean champions in mobile monetization and Bookpal is no exception. The company is currently testing the same model for mobile comics and is known to be earning additional money from online advertising as well.


Contenta is an online market place that facilitates transactions of gigs between freelance writers and creators and corporate clients that are in need various content for their commercial publications such as stories, news articles, press releases, marketing consulting and even info graphics. Launched with the slogan "Create content easily at scale", Contenta  has a total of 694 registered freelance writers, editors and marketers' who have so far submitted a combined total of 567 projects for 247 corporate clients. As the submitted articles are being screened and edited by its internal staff before final delivery to the clients, the company claims it can assure quality of its content. Prices range from free to KRW5,000,000. It is possible that its future client list may include existing news media that wish to outsource editorial gigs.


Korea's first integrated entrepreneurship hub that opened in 2013 with the financial backing of Banks Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs, D.CAMP is now the country's largest and most active venture startup incubator and innovation lab with a coworking space and other key facilities including indoor and outdoor event venues. D.CAMP is networked with 2,668 companies and 9,893 professionals as of August 2016.


Meet Carrie, the creator and presenter of Carrie and Toys, one of the most successful names in South Korean personal media. She rose to stardom in personal media by targeting preschool kids and toddlers, and creating how-to videos that are useful for kids when they play with their toys. Called "creators" in South Korea for they usually create video content and upload their creations to their dedicated YouTube channel, they easily log millions of views per video. Brightest stars in personal media are known to earn up to U$50,000 per month from the advertising revenue sharing platform facilitated by YouTube. And CJ E&M, a mainstream South Korean media, has recently opened DIA TV, a multi channel network and dedicated incubation platform for the creators of personal media content, in an attempt to capitalize on such rising trend in personal media. And there are even talent management agencies popping up here for those creators to facilitate their content production and distribution as well as possible endorsement deals with commercial brands. DIA TV has recently thrown a big party for the creators and YouTube streamers in Seoul and attracted nearly 30,000 creators and their fans as well as industry professionals to COEX where the event was held. For all practical purpose, they are creators, channels and media entrepreneurs as they capitalize on the handy existing online tools to project their star power to target audience. The delegation will be able to gain unique local insights on the so-called Multi Channel Network by visiting DIA TV headquartered in DMC.   


Hosting news-sites can push out compensation-type ads after incorporating IGA WORK's SDK in the architecture of their respective mobile app. As of August 2015, the company's 'adbrix' has been installed on over 200 million mobile devices worldwide with the number of registered apps surpassing 8,000. The compensation-type ad revenue sharing model is nothing new as it is proven framework that has been adopted universally, but the delegation will be able to gain local insights from the unique experiences IGA WORKS accumulated while running this online ad. platform for South Korean clients.


The Joongang Ilbo, one of the top three South Korean dailies launched in 1965 with the financial backing of Samsung, has also been the forerunner in terms of online adaptation of its news services. In fact, its news site launched in March 1995 was the first news web site ever opened by any South Korean daily. The South Korean daily now owned and headed by Hong Seok-Hyun, former president of WAN-IFRA, has been pushing for an ambitious plan to grow as the country's largest news portal on the basis of a synergy it could create by integrating its news site and affiliated online publications, but the ambition was shattered as portals have eventually risen as the No. 1 destination for South Korean online news readers. The VDZ delegation will meet the company's chief of digital content strategy and listen to their future plan to sustain its leadership in online news.  


Visit Kakao, homegrown mobile messenger service with over 80 million phone number-based global users that eventually acquired DAUM to become the second largest South Korean portal after Naver. With its recent hire of Naver's former content service chief, Kakao aims to emulate the success of Naver by evolving into a mobile portal with some iTunes-like business model that it believes would set the precedence for a mutually beneficial relationship along the mobile content (games, e-books, news) consumption cycle from creators to distributors and consumers. Kakao has been very successful in unveiling a series of O2O services including Kakao Taxi, Uber-like mobile call taxi app launched in March 2015 that eventually driven out Uber's South Korean operation by attracting 210,000 taxi drivers and some 9 million subcribers. With accumulated calls amounting over 100 millions, Kakao is expanding its proven O2O model to chauffeur hire service and hairshop reservation service. Notable in the services of both Naver and Kakao are the roles of online characters. Their popularity easily surpasses that of Dinesey cartoon stars prompting both Naver and Kakao to open online shops selling diverse fancy items modeled after their online characters. The shops are playing a central role in strengthening the offline presence of the otherwise ephemeral online-only brands. The latest megatrend among big-name South Korean online brands is to expand their offline presence where tangible products and services are traded with hard cash.


Started in 1998 as an in-house venture start-up of Samsung SDS, Naver has since risen as South Korea's Google as it succeeded in buliding up initial user base on the strengh of its search algorithm. With the recent successful IPO of Line Japan in NYSE, the portal is riding the crest of another explosive growth curve. The portal, however, has been the target of constant criticism locally since it attempted to lock in their users by siphoning off almost entire Web pages in South Korea. Back in 1997 when most of the Korean portals were launched, however, the total number of websites that existed in the Korean language sphere was barely over five thousand. For the Korean portals that were desperate to entice early Internet users, simply archiving the puny number of Web sites did not make any sense. The popular content providers at the time were news sites operated by the familiar names in mainstream media. Following the path of AOL that worked so well during the early days of dial-up connectivity, Naver decided to build their own "walled garden" on the net, where users would create content themselves or copy and paste other content they found elsewhere. This strategy worked well for Naver and other portals.

What is notable is the portal's uneasy relationship with South Korean news sites. While the portal has grown on the explosive growth of online news consumption of its visitors within the walled garden it built, South Korean news media that underestimated the potential threat of Naver and other portals have been complacent simply earning some hard cash in return for the supply of its new content to the portals. As South Korean portals including Naver and Kakao maintain their own news editors who edit and put news content they bought from other news media on their own news page, they have been criticized for having behaved like other politically- and socially driven news media and for having attempted to set the direction of political and social discourse of the country in the process. Despite such potential risk, Naver and other South Korean portals have never been able to give up news service, since news is the No.1 driver of traffic for them.

And as with other local Webtoon services that have successfuly monetized their mobile content, Naver Webtoon service has been equally successful in monitizing Webtoon traffic by learning diverse pricing and versioning tactics from Korean online game sites.


Meet OhmySchool, a 365-day brick-and-mortar journalism school for the masses started by OhmyNews, the world pioneer of citizen journalism. The whole idea seems to be designed as a public service from the outset, but it actually makes a good business sense for the company since it relies on the quality news reports compiled by citizen reporters. It is like DIY industry--when people are suddenly doing everything themselves, some huge industries will pop up to feed them with tools, education and daily supplies. Being located in the center of DMC, the visit will give the delegation a nice opportunity to have a glimpse of the sprawling media industry complex. The pioneer of citizen journalism may have passed its heyday but the site is still relevant for those who wish to tap into the power of online masses for participatory online news operation.


Seoul-Suwon corridor can be compared to US Route 101 in the Bay Area, probably the busiest highway route in the country just as Freeway 101 is constantly crowded with Silicon Valley traffic commuting between San Francisco and San Jose. With its newly relocated head office complete with central R&D center and earlier production facility built around the founding days of Samsung, Suwon can be likened to Valley's San Jose. The delegation will be shown to the company's high-tech showroom that displays its latest line-up of products and some hints over future products in store as well as a tour of the corporate history museum before an one-on-one session with the company's B2B solution unit (TBC) for more in-depth discussion on the electronics giant's future business development.


The shifting landscape of the media leadership in the wake of Seoul's broadband revolution seemed to have signaled the demise of the television medium as we know it today. However, television has made a spectacular come back to the contemporary media scene and is suddenly relevant again by internalizing the hidden desire of the audience expressed on the Net. The resurgence of the television in Korea is largely indebted to the network's prescient decision to embrace the Web instead of fighting it. From the early days of the Internet, the top three television networks have been releasing almost all of their scheduled programs on the Web as video-on-demand. The networks opened up most of their regular programs for free on the Net, but even when they charged for some popular content, they almost always offered users an option to detour the paywall in return for the participation in some co-promotion campaigns with sponsors. SBS, the top network station that has been consistently more enthusiastic than its competitors about the online content business, earned over KRW 43 billion (about US$40 mil) in revenue on the Web last year, whereas it grossed KRW 607 billion (about $570 mil) from its television arm. The delegation will visit SBS Content Hub located in DMC which oversees the station's collaborative programming effort across old and new media platforms.


Essentially a Bookpal in online comics a.k.a. Webtoon in South Korea, Top Comics is one of the brightest stars in South Korean Webtoon business with some ten million paying customers accumulated as of August 2015. The company runs two service brands depending on their target audience: TopToon tailored for males readers and BomToon for female readers. Their monetization tactics is based on the time-version model: if you want to know what happened to him/her NOW instead of waiting one more week, pay now. It is also full of adult-only content: adult content seems to be the most promising content for now in terms of monetizing mobile content in South Korea. The company's combined revenue has added up to KRW32billions as of March 2016. Find out for yourself if the same content sales model can also be applied to European smartphone users.

More on Webtoon: Asia's (World's) largest comic market is Japan. Japan leads the global comic market in every indicator known to us including number of printed comic books available anytime and anywhere. When it comes to Webtoon (Web cartoons), though, South Korea is leading the show. Top portal sites update hundreds of Webtoon everyday, and those stories proven popular among Korean online users are often turned into a big-budget movie. In fact, a Webtoon-turned-film was a box office champion early this year in the local multiplex theaters. The author of the Webtoon had published weekly installments of his work in the No. 2 portal--Daum.

Whereas Japan's Webtoon usually appear in the form of simple e-book converted directly from their paper counterpart, South Korean Webtoon are targeted solely at online audience from the very start with matching story telling techniques that fully capitalize on the unique opportunities online space can offer: skyscraper panes proposed by Scott McCloud, hyperlink jump, flash animation, sound effects and even musical scores written exclusively for Webtoon. In short, they are optimized for the full potential of the Web sphere and for the smartphone screen.

On top of the unique artistic frontier South Korean Webtoon artists have exploited so far, equally interesting experiments are being conducted on the business front as well: partial micro payment and Apple Appstore-style revenue sharing model, time versioning (dying to know next week's story in advance? Click this pay site), Google Ad sense-style click-through advertisement, sales of Webtoon print copies and even product (and brand) placement. Industry observers estimate that combined total revenue of South Korean web toons would grow to U$2billion by 2017.

Facts about South Korea

  • 94% Smartphone ownership (global average 88%)
  • Worldwide leader in m-commerce
  • Weekly news reach per source: 86 Percent Online, 71 Percent TV
  • 60% (approx. 5.30 h) of daily media time spent online
  • Home of Samsung, World's largest seller of smart phones and semi-conductors
  • Apple's iPhone is currently the No.2 smartphone in terms of quarterly global sales
  • South Korea earns over 30% of its GDP from the sales of ICT products and services as of 2015
  • South Korea's broadband penetration is world's No.2 after Japan
  • 69.4% of homes having subscribed for mostly fiber-based broadband Internet according to Statista
  • Wireless broadband Internet penetration in South Korea is 100.6% according to OECD, some two times higher than OECD average (54.3%)
  • 43.9% of South Koreans singled out smartphone as their most important media platform according to a survey in 2014
  • TV still remained the No. 1 media of choice with 44.3%
  • 87.2% of South Koreans read news on portals such as Naver and DAUM according to a survey in 2013 by DMC Media
  • More people read news on mobile devices (51.4%) than on PC's (45.1%). 
  • 41.7% of the questioned singled out headline as the primary reason they clicked any news whereas only 17.9% answered news brand
  • Naver, the country's No.1 portal, earned KRW1.4 trillion in advertising revenue in the first half of 2016, two times higher than the combined advertising revenue in the same period of all three terrestrial TV stations--KBS, MBC and SBS

Pricing & Contact

Pre-Agenda rate:
(valid till December 2, 2016)

€ 3.900 per participating person plus VAT for VDZ members
€ 4.400 per participating person plus VAT for non-members

Early Bird rate:
(valid between December 3, 2017
and February 24, 2017)

€ 4.400 per participating person plus VAT for VDZ members
€ 4.900 per participating person plus VAT for non-members

Regular rate:
(valid after February 24, 2017)

€ 4.900 per participating person plus VAT for VDZ members
€ 5.400 per participating person plus VAT for non-members

In order to guarantee exclusiveness and a focused exchange, seats on this tour are strictly limited!

For more information please contact:

Anett Breitsprecher
VDZ Akademie GmbH
Haus der Presse
Markgrafenstraße 15
10969 Berlin
Telefon: 030.72 62 98 – 158
Telefax: 030.72 62 98 – 114

Terms & Conditions

Pricing includes:

  • Contact person and guide on site at all times
  • Oganization of all company visits
  • Welcome dinner and introduction into the Korean news industry
  • Transportation on site (private tour bus and/or public transportation)
  • All dinners & lunches (selection of creative and delicious cuisines)
  • Hotel accomodation (4 overnight stays)

The number of participants is limited to 25 persons, in cases of overbooking, participants will be added in the order of the date their registration was received; registrations from VDZ members will be given priority. An invoice will be sent separately once the application is received. A refund for non-commencement of the journey cannot be guaranteed.

VDZ Akademie GmbH reserves the right to cancel the trip if there is an insufficient number of registrations. If the trip has to be cancelled or postponed due to force majeure, which includes orders issued by authorities, wars, other unrest, plane hijackings, terrorist attacks, fires, floods, natural disasters, power outages, accidents, storm, strikes, lockouts or other industrial actions, a refund cannot be guaranteed.

About VDZ

VDZ, the Association of German Magazine Publishers, is the interest group of the German magazine industry. As an umbrella organization for three professional associations (special interest magazines, general interest magazines and denominational press) and five federal state associations, VDZ represents about 80 per cent of the market with 450 members and more than 3000 magazines. As a service association VDZ offers a broad spectrum of consulting and information on all matters of the publishing business (advertising, distribution, digital media, legal issues, business administration, environment and paper). As a trade association VDZ ensures the protection and consideration of the publishers’ interests on a national and European level. And as an employers’ organization and on behalf of its members VDZ also holds wage negotiations with editors’ organizations. Furthermore, with its “VDZ Akademie” VDZ contributes to the industry’s education and training. More information online on:,,,,,