Last Saturday, I attended WordCamp Seoul 2012 in South Korea. Recently Matt was featured in a business section article on their major newspaper and I ‘ve been coordinating Korean translation of WordPress.com in the past few month. I had been talking with Chris (@longtag), the event organizer, on Skype for a while and had learned that he came to WordCamp Tokyo 2009. That also made me want to visit their event in return.
Though my trip was short, I got to meet many Korean WordPress users and enjoyed it a lot. Here’s a quick report on the event day:
WordCamp Seoul 2012 venue was Microsoft office at Posco Center in Gangnam.
Not only the name tag and stickers, they gave me a WordPress-log embroidered T-Shirt and a cute mug from one of the sponsors.
Chris’ cousin Hana, who is fluent in Japanese, interpreted for us and she was super helpful. She even translated the handout for us – I was so impressed.
Except for the morning and last sessions, there were 3 tracks. To describe them in general those were 1) non-programmers/PR personnel track, 2) hands-on lectures and workshops, and 3) advanced development categories.
Seokwon Yang (@Ejang) talked after my session, on “WordPress by Numbers”. He is a owner of CO-UP coworking space in Seoul, and an active member of social entrepreneur & developer community. He even has his own startup accelerator program through his coworking space. From what I could gather with the slides and Hana’s interpretation, he seemed really knowledgeable about WordPress and its ecosystem.
As you can see on the picture above, the room was packed. 150 people attended but about the same amount of people were on the waiting list. I asked people a few questions during my speech, and most of the attendees were self-hosted WordPress software users, not WordPress.com. There were some who has never used WordPress too.
The biggest news around WordPress in Korea recently is the migration of City of Seoul official web site. There was a very detailed case study session about this migration effort by a team member of the project titled “The Reason Seoul City Chose WordPress”. The project started in 2010 and they did a lot of research in finding the right CMS to replace the current web site as well as system. The reason he showed on the last slide was that “Because WordPress was there” — WordPress was a perfect solution in terms of higher efficiency, usability, SEO, integration with various social media, and their long-term goal to become an open and sharing government.. The migration is still in process, but their 300 sub-sites will be trimmed down to 100 and all hosted under a single install of WordPress multisite when it’s finished.
During the lunch and in the afternoon, I talked with many WordPress users. Bora from a Korean tech blog Bloter.net interviewed me, Seokwon told me about his projects, and the business director from en.korea.com showed me their popular entertainment site and iPhone app powered by WordPress.
In Korea, NAVER Blog is hugely famous, just like Blogger.com or WordPress.com in the U.S. WordPress is gaining popularity with brands and services that have overseas divisions. Of course the migration of City of Seoul web site is drawing attention to the open source software. This year, the very frist WordPress book in Korean was published; second one is coming in summer.
I also had a chance to talk with @devssay, who has been working on WordPres Korean package translation. It’s not always easy to keep up with the development if there aren’t enough contributors, but I hope this event will connect more users though real events and online communication.
A group photo with the organizers. I taught them the WordPress “W” sign we often do in Japan
I highly recommend traveling to a WordCamp to meet users outside of your community whenever possible. It’s easy to connect with WordPress users though a common interests and that can be a lot more fun than a regular travel and sightseeing alone. Check out WordCamp Central’s upcoming WordCamp list and find out about the next WordCamp near you.