NateOn for Foreigners & Pidgin-NateOn

nateon.gifWhen you live in East Asia for a longer period of time, you will notice that a large percentage of people here don’t necessarily use the larger chat networks like Windows Live (MSN) or ICQ to communicate, although the former is relatively popular. In China for example, the most common chat programme is QQ, a network almost unheard of in the west, but one of the largest in the world. Now what QQ is for the Chinese, NateOn is for Koreans. NateOn itself doesn’t differ very much from MSN, in fact it used to be compatible to MSN until some time ago, or so I heard :) But it has evolved into a separate independent network and has even overtaken MSN in South Korea in terms of user numbers. Its main advantage is its connection to Cyworld, South Korea’s larget social network.

There are websites explaining to foreigners how to set up a QQ account, but setting up a NateOn account is somewhat more complicated and not encouraged by Nate itself. The main obstacle here is that new users will usually need a Resident Registration Number to register, a code number similar to American social security numbers, but only available to South Korean citizens. Foreigners living in Korea will also receive a similar number with their “alien registration card”, which can be used in a similar way. But for people outside of Korea there is little chance of getting around this barrier, short of number fraud. Thankfully, there is another, legal way to get a NateOn account… [...]