The Korean-language Internet that most citizens of this country have access to has been described as a walled garden. This means that there are barriers to entry into the Korean-language accessible Internet that are beyond simple language barriers. It also includes barriers based on the amount of advertising money that new companies must spend in order to get visibility from the two leading search engines - Daum and Naver. Is this a good thing or not Do the users of Daum and Naver benefit from this setup
The Internet is full of garbage. Daum and Naver act as filters for this garbage. They only give exposure to the relevant, interesting web sites and filter out the junk. Additionally, Korean Internet users aren't really interested in the wider Internet, but are only interested in what other Korean Internet users are thinking about and talking about at any given time. Daum and Naver understand that, and that is why they focus on the important things - what's going on in Korea, with Koreans.
Daum and Naver know what their users want. This is why they are so successful. They are also both in competition and if they want to attract more users they must display content that is more interesting than their competitor. For this reason they are probably interested in new Internet technologies that they can display on their own sites in order to attract more users.
Finally, Korean language users need resources like Daum and Naver in order to find quality Korean-language content. Other search engines such as Google just do not find what Korean users are looking for. A search for the latest Korean celebrity will likely pull up some irrelevant news articles and perhaps a Filipino fan page, when Korean users will be looking for the latest and greatest place to go to argue incessantly about the merits or disadvantages of the skirt she wore last night. Koreans are busy people and need to get to the best places for their specific needs quickly - they don't have time to go sifting through the stuff that non-Koreans say in order to find their own niche. They just want to go there first, by default.
The Internet is a great resource for everyone in the entire world. However, Koreans get less out of it than the citizens of other countries because they have blinders on - they are simply unaware of most of the Internet because Daum and Naver ignore it. They spend their hours online not wandering through the vastness of Wikipedia, but only obsessively criticizing or defending the latest celebrity and discussing the finer points of soccer with other Koreans.
Another problem that has been mentioned before is that innovative Korean web applications just don't show up because the established portal sites do not support an environment for innovation. They have a stranglehold on everything that Koreans do on the Internet and they are not giving that up for anything. The only innovation that you will be able to see in Korean-language Internet is from the two portals themselves - although they are not very interested in innovation unless it can make them more money.
Besides, there is another recent stifling going on with Naver and Daum - their web sites must comply with the new Korean government law to register the real names and addresses of their users. This is causing many bloggers and other opinionated persons to leave Daum's Agora or Naver's Cafe and head out into the less oppressive waters of the wider Internet. Daum and Naver's tyrrany will soon come to an end, and Koreans will be better off with more than those two options.