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Naver (Hangul: 네이버) is a popular Web portal in South Korea, owned by Naver Corporation. Naver was launched in June 1999 by ex-Samsung employees, and it debuted as the first Web portal in South Korea that used its own proprietary search engine. Among Naver's features is "Comprehensive Search", launched in 2000, which provides results from multiple categories on a single page. It has since added new services such as "Knowledge Search", launched in 2002. It also provides Internet services including a news service, an e-mail service, an academic thesis search service, and a children's portal. In 2005, Naver launched Happybean, the world's first online donation portal, which allows users to find information and make donations to over 20,000 civil society and social welfare organizations.
According to comScore, Naver received 2 billion queries in August 2007, accounting for over 70% of all search queries in Korea, and making it the fifth most used search engine in the world, following Google search, Yahoo!, Baidu and Bing. More than 25 million Koreans have Naver as the default browser start page. Naver launched its service in Japan in 2009, marking their first expansion out of Korea.
In 2013, Lee Hae-jin, the chairman and chief strategy of Naver, saw his stake value hover above 1 trillion won (US$939.4 million) on the back of its messenger service LINE.
Naver was incorporated in June 1999, launching the first South Korean search portal that used an internally developed search engine. In August 2000, it launched the "Comprehensive Search" service. which allows users to get a variety of results from a search query on a single page, organized by type, including blogs, websites, images, cafes, etc. This was five years before Google launched a similar offering with its "Universal Search."
In July 2000, Naver was merged with Hangame, South Korea's first online game portal, and in 2001 changed its name to NHN, or Next Human Network. The combination of the country's top search engine and the top game portal has allowed NHN to remain South Korea's largest Internet company, with the top market capitalization among companies listed on KOSDAQ, in November 2008, NHN was transferred to the KOSPI market.
In the early days of Naver operation, there was a relative dearth of webpages in the Korean language. To fill this void, Naver became an early pioneer in user-generated content through the creation of the "Knowledge Search(hangul: 지식인 검색)" service in 2002. In Knowledge Search, users pose questions on any subject, and select among answers provided by other users, awarding points to the users who provide the best answers. Knowledge Search was launched three years before Yahoo! launched its similar "Yahoo! Answers" service, and now possesses a database of over 80 million answer pages.
Over the years, Naver has continued to expand its offerings, adding a blog service in 2005, local information search and book search services in 2004, desktop search in 2005, and the webtoon(webcomic) service in 2006. From 2005-2007 it expanded its multimedia search services, including music and video search, Internet phone service and mobile search. On January 1, 2009, Naver released its new interface.
1 April 2013, Naver launched Newsstand to pursue fairness. Because Naver launched Newsstand, every News organization is able to edit News articles that appear on Naver.
Junior Naver (Hangul:쥬니어 네이버) shorted as Juniver(Hangul:쥬니버) is a portal site aimed at kids similar to Yahooligans. It has special services such as games such as Dongmul Nongjang (Animal farm), Pany Pang, Puppyred, e-mail, avatars, educational links, quizzes, stories, jokes, and a homework helper. Junior Naver utilizes a panel of experts and educators to filter out harmful content, with the aim of offering a safe Internet experience for children. Junior Naver also has a Q&A service aimed at children.
Naver Comics (Hangul:네이버 만화,also called "webtoon"웹툰) is an area that provides Naver users with manhwa comics (webtoon) and original comic pieces. Naver started to provide people with web comics named "Navertoon" in June 2006. Most significantly, it offers comic book, genre fiction, and free webtoons. Users must pay publishers to view their comic book and genre fiction contents. On the other hand, free manhwa, webtoon, is provided by professional artists weekly for free.
Naver promotes amateurs to be writers of the comic series through the process of rising in status. Status tends to be raised by being selected as "Best Challenge Manhwa" after posting "Challenge Manhwa" as amateurs. Comic books and genre fiction are provided by choosing either a flat rate plan or a meter rate plan. The flat rate plan can sometimes be limited according to seminal works. Users can either buy each piece one by one or buy 1day/7day/30day flat rate plan to enjoy comics through that period. Premium works can be limited to the flat rate plan by publishers. They must be paid by a credit provided by Naver, and it is called "Naver Coin". Naver Coins can be obtained by credit card payment, wire transfers, mobile phones, and gift cards that Naver accepts. It has a ratio of 1:1 with Korean currency. If users are interrupted while reading comics by system errors or maintenance, the interrupted periods will be paid back by doubling their hours.
Naver blog service was started in October 2003.
NHN Japan and Line
NHN Japan is the Japanese arm of NHN Corp. NHN Japan was established to oversee Hangame Japan, the Naver Japan portal, and the Japanese ISP and blog platform Livedoor. Then in 2011 it launched a new service that acquired a life of its own.
Line, a media messaging and VoIP application, was developed after the devastating 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Widespread damage to Japan's telecommunications infrastructure obliged NHN Japan employees to rely on Internet tools to communicate. Engineers responded with Line, and in June the company released its new resource to the public. Eighteen months later Line had 100 million users and was still growing.
The explosive success of Line led to the creation of Line Corporation in February 2013. Line Corporation, based in Japan, now houses Internet operations such as Line, Naver Japan, and Livedoor. Hangame Japan continues to develop electronic games, including those for the Line Game brand.
A joint venture of NHN Corp and Line Corporation is Line Plus Corporation, also based in Japan. Line Plus is tasked with developing overseas markets. Line Corporation holds 60% of Line Plus shares with Korean parent NHN Corp holding the remaining 40%.
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