October 18, 2022: -On Monday, shares of South Korea’s top messaging app decreased after a central data center outage disrupted service for over 53 million users worldwide.
A fire triggered the outage at the data command, which hosts servers for other major Korean tech businesses. KakaoTalk is not only South Korea’s top messaging app. Still, it is heavily relied on for everything ranging from online payments, gaming, and ride-hailing to log-in verification for other significant websites.
Kakao reported 47.5 million monthly active users in Korea during the second quarter. That’s more than 90% of South Korea’s population of 51.74 million people as of November 1, 2021.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol described the impact of Kakao’s outage as “no different from the national communication network.” He called on relevant ministries to investigate the exact cause and scope of the disruptions and drum up plans to prevent similar incidents.
“If there is a monopoly or an oligopoly situation where it manipulates the market, we need to take systemic measures nationwide for the people’s interest,” Yoon said Monday.
On Monday, shares of Kakao Corp. plunged more than 9% at the open before paring losses to close almost 6% lower. Internet giant Naver shed 2% in the morning session before rebounding to close 0.91% higher. Naver also briefly faced limited disruptions as the data center hosts servers for the company but resumed most of its operations on Sunday.
The data center’s operator, SK Inc, also fell more than 4% at the open. Kakao’s subsidiaries Kakao Pay, Kakao Bank, and Kakao Games plunged more than 7% in Korea’s morning session before trimming some losses. Kakao Bank closed 5.14% lower, Kakao Pay shed 4.16%, and Kakao Games was down 2.22%.
Kakao initially announced service disruptions Saturday afternoon, which continued into Sunday morning.
“We bow our heads and sincerely apologize to all users who are facing Kakao service disruptions at the moment,” the company’s co-CEOs said in a statement over the weekend.
“We promise to take the maximum measures to prevent issues like these from recurring as well as investigating the cause of this incident,” they said, adding that the company has been working on backing up data to other facilities within the country as soon as the fire broke out.
“This is a rare case of one data center being completely affected, so it’s taking a lot longer than expected to implement these measures,” they said.