Decentralized Futures: Polkadot market entry in South Korea

Hi all. With the decentralization of the Polkadot ecosystem through the W3F Decentralized Futures Program, we believe this is the perfect opportunity to aggressively pursue market entry efforts on behalf of Polkadot in South Korea, a market that is critical for the adoption and expansion of Polkadot in broader Asia. We would like to present an overview of our upcoming proposal to strengthen Polkadot’s localization, brand, and awareness in Korea.

1. Market overview

High adoption rates

  • As of 2020, over 58% of South Korean companies were actively exploring blockchain applications. All major publicly traded conglomerates have been exploring blockchain as a technology to enable their existing business lines, across Gaming, Financial Services, Entertainment, and others.
  • At a retail level, South Koreans have shown a significant interest in cryptocurrencies, with a large percentage of the population engaging in crypto trading. A 2021 survey indicated that nearly 41% of South Korean workers had invested in cryptocurrencies (an estimated 14M people).

Top three global trading volume

  • Upbit, one of South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, reported a daily trading volume of over $11 billion in 2021, highlighting the immense scale of crypto trading in the country.
  • As of 2021, South Korea was one of the top three markets in the world for Bitcoin trading. The daily trading volume on South Korean crypto exchanges frequently surpassed $9 billion.

Supportive government initiatives and regulations

  • The South Korean government has been supportive of blockchain technology, viewing it as a key driver for what they term “the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. It has launched various initiatives, including significant investments in blockchain projects, to encourage the development and adoption of the technology across various industries.
  • The South Korean government announced its commitment to science and technology development in January 2024, with a planned investment exceeding 5.8 trillion won (US$4.3 billion) to enhance the global competitiveness of Korea and to advance technological prowess and foster innovation.

Diverse applications across industries

  • Blockchain technology in South Korea is being applied in a wide range of fields, from finance and logistics to entertainment and public administration.
  • Entertainment and gaming: South Korea’s entertainment industry, particularly gaming, has integrated blockchain to create new types of user experiences. Blockchain is used for digital asset management, enabling players to own and trade virtual items securely across different platforms and games.

Leading corporates and startups

  • A high number of publicly traded South Korean companies, including major conglomerates like Samsung and LG, are actively involved in blockchain research and development. The country is also home to a vibrant startup ecosystem, with numerous builders focused on blockchain innovation.
  • Samsung has integrated blockchain platforms (e.g. Samsung Blockchain Wallet) into its flagship products, which has been available on its smartphones since 2019.
  • SK Telecom, Korea’s leading mobile operator, announced in November 2023 a new collaboration with Aptos and Atomrigs Lab to develop its web3 wallet service, T wallet.
  • Most of the largest South Korean gaming companies (e.g. WeMade, Com2Us, NetMarble) have dedicated blockchain teams and have launched or are launching blockchain-based games or platforms. Our team has relationships with all of them.

Investor sentiment and market trends

  • Despite the bear market, Korean retail investors have shown resilience, with a significant number of young investors actively participating in crypto trading.
  • For many years, there has been a premium on the price of digital assets traded on Korean exchanges versus the global crypto markets, called the “kimchi premium”. This has in large part been due to KRW capital controls around currency export.
  • Significant institutional investors are participating in the market. South Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS), the world’s third-largest pension fund by assets, disclosed this year that it purchased about $20M in Coinbase shares.

Educational and research focus

  • Many South Korean universities have introduced specialized courses and degree programs focused on blockchain technology and web3. These programs often cover a range of topics including the technical aspects of blockchain, its applications in various industries, cryptography, and the economic and legal implications of digital currencies. Leading universities like Seoul National University, Korea University, and KAIST are notable examples that offer such courses.

International collaborations and influence

  • South Korean companies and technologies often have a significant impact on global blockchain trends and developments.
  • The popularity of South Korean culture, including K-pop and K-dramas, has opened avenues for blockchain applications in the entertainment industry, influencing trends across Asia. Blockchain-based platforms for content distribution, fan engagement, and intellectual property management developed in South Korea are being observed and emulated in other Asian markets.

2. Problem statement

Despite its rapid historic growth in other regions and huge potential, the Polkadot ecosystem’s presence in South Korea remains limited in comparison to other major blockchain ecosystems, with Polkadot struggling to attract both end-users, builders, and partners.

In South Korea, the community’s awareness of the Polkadot ecosystem is relatively low. For example, out of an estimated 14 million+ crypto users in Korea, only 2,000 showed some interest by joining the Online Polkadot Korea Meetup keynote by Gavin Wood (hosted in 2021). The actual engagement rate of builders and the broader community is even lower than this figure would suggest. This is due to a shortage of available materials about Polkadot written in Korean as well as a lack of marketing and communication activities revolving around Polkadot. While Korea is a fairly open market in some ways, it still requires significant localization - market participants will not engage a brand that does not have an identity and documentation and marketing they can understand in their native language. As a result, developers, end-users, and corporate and government entities are unfamiliar with Polkadot, Substrate, or the broader ecosystem.

Additionally, major L1s and competitors of Polkadot have already entered the Korean market to varying degrees, including Ethereum, Solana, NEAR, Avalanche, Aptos, Sui, as well as L2s like Polygon, Arbitrium, and Optimism. Their efforts range from partnering with local players for market entry across various functions, to setting up small local teams that are conducting marketing, education, community, and BD efforts with established crypto native and web2 companies. Some of these players have had a sector agnostic strategy, while others have focused on specific verticals like gaming (e.g. Aptos) and have made meaningful headway with local partners. While all of these competitors have started work in Korea, none of them has won the market yet, so there is still time for Polkadot to catch up and capture a significant share of builder and broader ecosystem mindshare.

There is therefore an urgent need for general market entry initiatives involving localization, marketing, education, and communication campaigns around Polkadot, as well as general growth efforts in Korea. A failure to act and catch up with our competition will yield the Korean market to them, resulting in the Polkadot ecosystem missing out on a huge potential user base for accelerated growth, as well as a market that often leads and influences broader Asia.

3. Solution and scope of work

We propose a focused market entry effort in South Korea, by partnering with leading local partners that have been operating in the Korean market for years. These partners operate across multiple categories, ranging from marketing (crypto native and non-crypto native), PR, social, developer education (web2 and web3), community growth, partnerships, media, government, corporate, and others. Each of these partners has taken years of relationship development to establish as viable groups that we can trust and work with to meaningfully enter Polkadot into Korea. They are ready to be activated as soon as we are able to fund these partnerships and execute our strategy.

The types of partners we may engage with initially might focus on the following areas:

  • Crypto native marketing
  • Web2 marketing
  • Crypto native PR
  • Crypto native social marketing
  • Web2 + web3 media
  • Ecosystem deep dives + research content
  • Retail community growth
  • Developer community growth
  • Investor community growth
  • Corporate partner growth
  • Government partner growth
  • Developer education
  • Validator communities
  • Crypto exchanges
  • NFT communities
  • Gaming communities
  • Entertainment (e.g. K-pop) communities
  • Crypto native infrastructure

4. Market entry strategy

In order to successfully enter Polkadot into the Korean market, there are a set of areas upon which we can focus our initial efforts. Generally, these are areas that can be considered fundamental building blocks to entering the Korean market, and may need to be developed first before other full fledged market development initiatives like setting up a growth pipeline. The following list is not exhaustive, and is meant to be demonstrative of areas that we can work on developing. These may include the following (in no particular order):

1. General marketing / brand awareness:

  • Polkadot has generally not had any brand awareness in the Korean market in the last few years. There may have been some hype around DOT when the whitepaper was released a few years ago, but without any dedicated efforts in Korea since then this has faded. In order to do anything meaningful in Korea, we need to establish a baseline amount of market awareness of the Polkadot brand by general retail users, builders, devs, corporates, government, and others. Therefore, developing and deploying a localized marketing campaign to raise awareness of the Polkadot brand in Korea is critical. This campaign will need to be tailored to the cultural nuances of Korea.

2. Social marketing / community growth:

  • South Koreans are influenced by social marketing, making it crucial to engage and educate the community.
  • Efforts may include establishing a presence on Korean social media, engaging in discussions on social channels, and fostering a sense of community among Polkadot enthusiasts.

3. Research content for education of partners:

  • Non-crypto native entities in Korea need education from trusted sources.
  • Efforts may include creating in-depth research content on Polkadot’s tech stack, ecosystem, and value for web2 and web3 communities, disseminating it to prepare future partners, and relying on trusted third-party entities to help us reach these parties.

4. Preparation for partnerships:

  • There are various potential partners that we can engage with in South Korea. Each of these will require a dedicated effort to develop a thesis on how they can collaborate with Polkadot, and initial BD efforts on the ground to start the process of understanding their primary needs and other requirements. While actual partnerships with players that are not market entry related is beyond the scope of this proposal, some amount of market development may be executed to prepare for future possible engagements.

5. Localization of technical content:

  • Korean devs will not engage with Polkadot and build on our tech stack if they don’t have Polkadot documentation that they can rely on in Korean. To date, the vast majority of documentation on Polkadot has been released in English.
  • Thus translating technical documentation and resources into Korean is vital for Korean developers.

6. Education of developers - meetups and content:

  • Developers are a core constituent in the effort to enter Korea. They have historically and unfortunately been neglected by Parity and the broader Polkadot community. In order to engage with this community, we will need to provide education on the basics of Polkadot and our ecosystem and engagement via various channels.
  • We may do this by organizing developer meetups, creating technical content in Korean, and supporting local developer communities.

7. Localization of marketing announcements and ecosystem news:

  • The broader Korean community will not engage with Polkadot if they don’t have general updates and information presented to them in Korean, on Korean native channels.
  • Translating marketing announcements and news into Korean and tailoring content to the South Korean audience are essential for broader community engagement.

8. Population of Korean native search engines results:

  • Koreans tend to use search engines like Naver with Korean language searches instead of English searches. Until recently, the Polkadot search results on Korean search engines were almost non-existent. With our work last year with a local marketing agency this has changed for the better, however there is still significant work that needs to be done to make sure that when someone searches for Polkadot on a Korean search engine, meaningful results appear instead of garbage content.
  • Optimizing online content for Korean language searches and utilizing SEO techniques for Korean search engines are necessary to improve visibility.

9. Education of retail via web2 media:

  • Retail is another core constituent in South Korea that is very important to our entry of the country, especially as relating to Polkadot in the Korean public crypto markets.
  • Collaborating with South Korean web2 media outlets to educate the public about Polkadot is essential. Creating simplified educational content for retail users can change their behavior over time.

10. Education of investors:

  • Conducting investor education campaigns and addressing common investor questions and concerns are crucial for informing South Korean investors.

11. Education of corporates:

  • Providing educational resources for South Korean corporations interested in blockchain adoption and showcasing Polkadot benefits are essential to engage web2 corporates.

12. Education of government entities:

  • Engaging with South Korean government agencies and advocating for favorable blockchain policies are important for long-term adoption of Polkadot in Korea.

13. Education of crypto native players:

  • The crypto native community in South Korea will be critical to capture for wider engagement across various other communities. They exert a significant amount of influence across those other target communities, and although Polkadot has not really been on their radar for some years, we feel that it is possible to change this. With the decline of Terra and more recently Klatyn, and lackluster execution by other major ecosystems like Polygon, there is an opportunity for Polkadot to take market share and establish our ecosystem as one of choice in Korea if we execute the right strategy.

14. Creation of a point of contact entity for the Korean community:

  • Thus far, Korean users, builders, corporates, and other players have never had an official point of contact into the Polkadot ecosystem. The de facto representatives of our ecosystem for the last 4 years have been William and a few other individuals, given their history of doing work in Korea. With this new entity, we will finally be able to provide a single point of contact for the Korean community to interface with Polkadot. Without this, it has been exceedingly difficult to gain any meaningful traction in Korea. Going forward, we will finally be able to develop the market and expand our brand and technology into this critical web3 market in Asia.

15. Building trust and credibility over time:

  • Adoption of technologies at the user, builder, ecosystem, corporate, government, and really all levels of the Korean society requires a greater degree of trust than in many other countries. Without a history of market presence and building in the country, it is exceedingly difficult to do anything meaningful. Our team will also contribute to this effort by building institutional level trust in the Polkadot brand name, which has never existed in Korean society before. Once we are able to build this trust and credibility up with the help of local partners, then many other things may be possible that have been off limits historically. For example, building partnerships with large corporates to onboard large numbers of non crypto native users into Polkadot, and partnering with government entities to access equally as large populations of potential non crypto native users are just two of the opportunities that we might be able to access once we have built up some amount of trust in our name brand locally.

5. Prior work

The team has already done a significant amount of work in the Korean market on behalf of our ecosystem. This team understands the Korean crypto market, the business culture, and has an extremely large and robust network amongst investors, web3 organizations, and corporates. This team has worked closely together on Korean initiatives, and they are part of a very small group of people in the ecosystem that have the experience required to execute this mandate in this market.

Korea is a tier 1 market that we are largely not represented in, and our competitors are at the relatively early stages of entering and gaining share in. It’s a market we cannot afford to ignore anymore or we will simply end up giving it away to Solana, Avalanche, etc. We have already been able to accomplish some high value things in Korea, simply by pushing initiatives as individuals on our own out of our passion for this market. Some examples of initiatives we have successfully executed include:

Marketing building blocks with a local marketing partner

In 2023, we worked with a local crypto native market entry / marketing agency based in Seoul. They have done market entry work for various projects for years across the following ecosystems: Ethereum (e.g. Sandbox, Gelato), Solana (e.g. the L1, Raydium), DyDx, Stacks, Filecoin, Boba, Mina, Crypto.com, Avalanche, and dozens of others. They work closely with various parties that the team knows well, and are well regarded in the Korean ecosystem as a market entry partner for foreign ecosystems. Last year, we were able to engage them as a partner to help us with some marketing efforts in Korea.

Some of the things they accomplished for us include content localization / translation to Korean (e.g. blogs, announcements), community building and management in Korea via social channels (e.g. Kakao, Telegram), community event promotion (e.g. AMAs), official blog building and management (e.g. Medium, Naver, and other Korea-specific platforms), SEO management, native content creation (e.g. intros, guides), and viral content marketing. We were very happy with their results. They were able to successfully publish valuable pieces of content across all of these channels over a three month trial period.

Korea Blockchain Week 2023

Korea Blockchain Week is the largest crypto focused conference in Korea, and one of the premier web3 events in Asia. It happens once every year, and draws a variety of attendees, including builders, investors, government officials, retail, and corporate. It has great media coverage, and is supported by major crypto ecosystems including Solana (title sponsor of 2022), Polygon, Binance, Avalanche, etc. Circle was the title sponsor in 2023. KBW represents a great opportunity for us to build our brand awareness in Korea.

Some numbers demonstrating the impact of this event:

  • 70k+ attendees expected for the entire week (40% oversea)
  • 8k+ attendees expected for the main event
  • 3.5M social media posts about KBW
  • 150+ media company coverage (ie. NYT, Bloomberg)
  • 100+ side events throughout the week

Our team supported Parity’s sponsorship of KBW at every point in the process, from educating the Parity Marketing team on the importance of the Korean market, to managing the process of securing a sponsorship proposal from the CEO of the organizer of KBW, to advising the Parity Marketing team throughout the process of negotiating the sponsorship package on various details relating to speaker slots, event access, side event operations, Seoul specific locations, etc. Ultimately, hosted the Parity team on the ground in Seoul, and facilitated a very successful experience at KBW, and during the week in Seoul, the team was able to set up 100+ meetings with local companies on the ground.

Polkadot Korea Hackathon 2023

The HackaDOT hackathon, held from April 5 to June 9 2023, was not only a local Seoul event but a significant catalyst for fostering impact within the broader Polkadot and Substrate ecosystem in Korea. All of us on the team were all contributors to this effort.

Key participant metrics include:

  • Number of registered teams: A total of 64 teams registered for the hackathon, demonstrating the significant interest and participation in the event.
  • Number of submitted projects: Among the registered teams, 11 teams successfully completed their projects and submitted them for evaluation.
  • Demo day presentations: The top 8 teams were selected from the submissions to present their projects on Demo Day.
  • Selected outstanding teams: From the Demo Day presentations, 3 outstanding teams were recognized for their exceptional achievements and awarded for their contributions.
  • Participant count: The hackathon witnessed a participation count of 68 individuals, including participants, judges, and organizers.
  • After party attendance: Following the Demo Day, an after party was organized, which saw an impressive turnout of 258 individuals.

6. Team

The core team includes William Croisettier, Hoon Kim, and Eric Wang, plus a set of advisors. William, Hoon, and Eric have worked in the Polkadot ecosystem for a combined 9.5 years, can reasonably be considered experts in the space, and are three of a very small set of people in the Polkadot ecosystem with deep expertise on the Korean market.

William Croisettier
William has worked for Parity for almost 2.5 years, where he has been leading the Institutional Relations (VC) team. His focus was on evangelizing Polkadot to a global crypto native VC community of 300+ VC firms, and advising the Polkadot ecosystem of builders on early stage venture issues including fundraising. He has worked with 150+ Polkadot/Substrate builders directly as an advisor and mentor on anything related to early stage Venture Capital. He also contributed directly to expanding the ecosystem of builders as a first point of contact. In total, William has 8 years of VC experience and 8 years of crypto native experience across multiple ecosystems including Polkadot and others (e.g. Ethereum, R3 Corda, Terra, Cardano). William has also worked in Asia for the last 6 years, with a specific focus on Korea and Japan markets. William is typically on the ground in South Korea 6-9 months out of the year.

Hoon Kim
Hoon has been part of the Polkadot developer ecosystem for the last 4 years since late 2019 and has been one of the first creators and contributors of the Astar Network since it was called Plasm Network. He formerly worked as the CTO of Astar Foundation and has also been an active member of the Polkadot technical roundtable. Hoon was born in South Korea and finished his bachelor’s degree in business administration in Japan, where he joined the Astar project during its conception. He is based in Munich, Germany, and founded a new company called Team STEP, which focuses on creating various platforms and solutions utilizing Astar Network and Polkadot at a technical level to bring new use cases of blockchain technology for the average users. On top of this, he is also building the Astar Governance system and focusing on making the Astar Network decentralized so that companies like Team STEP and other partners can contribute and utilize the network without needing a central foundation. Thanks to his background, Hoon understands the technical intricacies of Polkadot and blockchain technology while understanding the business aspects of the industry. Furthermore, Hoon is ethnically Korean and has been part of the Korean culture for a long time, giving him a deeper understanding of the market and cultural nuances.

Eric Wang
Eric brings his deep experience in BD, partnerships, and various L1/L2 ecosystems to this initiative. Eric had worked at Parity for over 3 years, where he oversaw Ecosystem Growth as the Ecosystem Growth Lead and then Head of Strategic Growth Projects. His focus was leading a team to bring crypto-native builders into the ecosystem to build parachains, applications, infrastructure and tooling. He also launched core Parity initiatives such as the Substrate Builders Program. His team brought hundreds of projects to the ecosystem under his leadership. Subsequently, Eric was a Founding Partner of one of the leading crypto funds in Korea, ROK Capital, which was a co-host of Korea Blockchain Week in 2022. At ROK Capital, he was in charge of Venture Capital investments. Eric has also been an advisor to projects like Equilibrium, Moonbeam and Injective Protocol. Currently, Eric is the Head of BD for an interoperability project built on the Polkadot SDK called Analog. Analog also allows for Polkadot parachains to connect with blockchains outside of the Polkadot ecosystem.

Concluding note

In summary, initiatives relating to Polkadot’s localization, brand awareness, and education for a variety of communities in South Korea have historically been sorely lacking and are extremely important for our ecosystem’s success in that region, and we believe we have a great opportunity through the DF program to tackle this problem. We welcome any feedback, comments and suggestions on our proposal overview!

Regards, William, Hoon, and Eric

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Korea holds a critical position in the APAC region’s crypto landscape, and establishing a stronger foothold for Polkadot there is vital for our growth. While penetrating a new market presents its challenges, I have full confidence in the capabilities of the above team to lead the way in fostering market adoption in Korea.

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Great reading. South Korea is definitely a huge and advanced market, would love to see Polkadot’s growing presence and adoption there.

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Only one of the three team members is Korean (and he’s a long-term expat, it would appear), and all three seem to already be extremely busy with many other serious projects.

As a long-term Seoul resident, I’m skeptical that these conditions are conducive to a sustained, effective initiative here.

Great to see a focused proposal to gain stronger foothold on the South Korean market.

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I would convince that this proposal is already concrete with its message and we all know Korea is extreme prominent market right now.

We have Aptos, NEAR, Klaytn, already set Korea as the mainland for application adoption with high volume transaction in crypto.

This proposal is important for the growth of Polkadot in 2024.

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The Korean market is a crucial market in the APAC region. We require more experts from the ecosystem to lead the first stage of the decentralization of Polkadot in Korea. I am hopeful that Polkadot will become one of the top ecosystems and compete with Klaytn and Near in the region.

Best of luck to the team with this proposal.

Regards,
Remy

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It doesn’t bother you at all that only one team member is Korean and that all three appear to have very, very full plates already? (Genuine question–I’ve lived in Seoul since 2002 and would love to see more Polkadot efforts here, but I’m skeptical here.)

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@mister_cole While only one of the team members is ethnically Korean, I know for a fact that the other two whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in Korea many years ago are committed to South Korea long term based on their constant presence and growth there for the past years.

You mention full plates, but notice that their plates are full of Parity and Polkadot in addition to the connection to builders within Korea. I think what is described in this proposal is very fitting for these individuals specifically and as a team, they can extend and amplify the work they’ve already done in a concentrated way to help Parity have an official entry into SK.

As a builder who has lived in Seoul in the past, I highly support this team and proposal. I believe that with their reputation and experience within Korea, this will help Polkadot quite a bit in the APAC region!

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This initiative is highly commendable and garners my support from both personal and business standpoints.

I believe that prioritizing the entrance into Tier 1 markets with a Tier 1 protocol is essential for strategic reasons. However, I also acknowledge the validity of concerns regarding capacity limitations. It seems the primary objective of this initiative is not direct execution but rather the effective management of the effort, correct?

Success will ultimately be measured against clear objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), especially when evaluated against similar initiatives by competitors such as Polkadot in other markets, including the South Korean market.

Given my experience with the development of Polkadot and its integration within the transformative gaming industry, I see it as crucial to extend our outreach to top gaming markets. This approach should not only mirror general initiatives that other protocols have already implemented but should also focus on fostering relationships and incentivizing projects related to gaming. This implies a strategic shift from foundational efforts towards more tangible, results-oriented outcomes, such as adoption and the development of quality products.

In conclusion, this initiative represents a significant opportunity, backed by a team with a proven track record of success.

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I’m honored that you joined the Forum just to reply to my comment! I’ve noted your reply, but the contents of their plates is not relevant to my concern–the fact is that they all have a lot of responsibilities, and I know from experience that when we spread ourselves thin something inevitably falls by the wayside. Having lived full time in Seoul since 2002, I hope Polkadot’s Korea presence does not fall by the wayside.

My other concern (the proposed team’s lack of “Koreanness”) also remains. Hoon is Korean, which is very encouraging, but is he living in Korea now or will he be relocating here? I know Eric sometimes resides in Seoul (most recently very near my office, in fact!), and William’s bio says he is in Korea 6-9 months out of the year. I know Hoon is the only Korean on the team, but is he also team member proficient in Korean language?

Dear Mister Cole @mister_cole ,
Thank you for your feedback, I would like to address your points of concern. You mention the following as a concern: “the fact is that they all have a lot of responsibilities, and I know from experience that when we spread ourselves thin something inevitably falls by the wayside. Having lived full time in Seoul since 2002, I hope Polkadot’s Korea presence does not fall by the wayside.”

The simple fact is that Polkadot has not had historically and does not currently have a strong presence in Korea. Please see section of the forum post named “2. Problem statement” for expanded detail on this. This is in fact the core problem we are trying to address with this initiative. In terms of our level of responsibilities, we have all made the commitment to put in as much work required to make this initiative a success in the specific format outlined above. We are all passionate about expanding Polkadot in Korea, and have spent years in the market doing things that have fallen outside of our core mandates at the time out of our personal desire. Please see section named “5. Prior work” for further examples of this prior work. In addition, we are considering the idea of making an additional FT hire in Korea with a local individual that can help to support these efforts on the operational side if we receive DF funding.

You also mention the following as a concern: “My other concern (the proposed team’s lack of “Koreanness”) also remains. Hoon is Korean, which is very encouraging, but is he living in Korea now or will he be relocating here? I know Eric sometimes resides in Seoul (most recently very near my office, in fact!), and William’s bio says he is in Korea 6-9 months out of the year. I know Hoon is the only Korean on the team, but is he also team member proficient in Korean language?

I would argue that the team “being Korean” is not a core requirement for this initiative to be successful, nor is being proficient in Korean language. What is required is high level of knowledge of how the Korean ecosystem functions, a strong background and understanding of the Polkadot and Substrate ecosystem, a strong network within Korea in the areas mentioned above, and set of relationships with partners that can be leveraged to execute functional initiatives with us. As with the vast majority of our industry globally, people in Korea in blockchain companies all speak English, so not being “proficient in Korean language” does not really matter at all when it comes to working with local partners. In fact, we plan on working with these local partners to localize Polkadot content from English to Korean for developers and other groups that require Korean content. As outlined in the strategy above (e.g. see section “3. Solution and scope of work” and “4. Market entry strategy”), we intend to execute the following specific strategy for market entry: “We propose a focused market entry effort in South Korea, by partnering with leading local partners that have been operating in the Korean market for years. These partners operate across multiple categories, ranging from marketing (crypto native and non-crypto native), PR, social, developer education (web2 and web3), community growth, partnerships, media, government, corporate, and others. Each of these partners has taken years of relationship development to establish as viable groups that we can trust and work with to meaningfully enter Polkadot into Korea. They are ready to be activated as soon as we are able to fund these partnerships and execute our strategy.

I hope this reply addresses your concerns Mister Cole - we welcome your support on the ground. In fact I will be back in Seoul in a few weeks and welcome the opportunity to sit down with you and discuss these areas or any other areas of concern in person. Please DM me if you would like to do so!

Thanks, William

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A regional strategy is important for any ecosystem looking to scale beyond its domestic markets. It is good to see such a proposal being tabled for Polkadot and we should welcome more regionally targeted strategies like this one. Asia is ripe for web3 adoption and Korea is one of the largest markets within the region that has a technology-savvy demographic with a relatively high level of web3 awareness. In addition, Korea is home to several global household brands, and it is important to establish touchpoints with each of them.

I have interacted or worked directly with each of the three team mates in different capacities over the past two years and can vouch for their commitment to the Korean market, as I know they have been extensively involved with local technology conglomerates, service providers, event and marketing agencies, and have spent significants amounts of time doing business in the country. In addition, I am aware that Korea has a specific business culture that requires an intimate understanding of mindsets and social protocols to navigate effectively. This team has developed this through their meaningful experience serving the local market, and has the connections necessary to execute on their plans.

I wish them every success!

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Thank you for engaging in this proposal and providing us with your comments.
I’ll stick to points related to myself to keep the thread short.

It’s been around three years since I moved out of Korea (being born and raised there) and started living in Germany, and I don’t see how my residential status impacts any of this. We’re already working with a Korean marketing firm specializing in any “Koreanness” that might be needed for our public voice. I’m a businessman + tech guy here to increase the brand awareness for Polkadot in Korea to help our ecosystem flourish, which heavily benefits what we are doing at Team STEP as well.

I hope this clears out any questions.

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The Korean market has been a decisive factor in the past two crypto cycles and deserves special attention as Polkadot expands into new markets.

With regards to the comments that the team is not “Korean enough,” I challenge you to find any other team that has deep roots in both the Polkadot ecosystem and in Korea, and I think you will find none better.

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I appreciate all the thoughtful responses–thanks for taking my concerns seriously.

First, some people have asked elsewhere, so I should clearly answer: I am not angling to do this kind of work myself, nor am I in any way involved with anyone else who is–I am unavailable and completely unqualified in every way to be involved in this kind of work :slight_smile:

Overall, while I still retain some concern about the team’s many commitments and projects, I’m no longer concerned about its ability to do business in Korea (yay!). I’ve also come around to accept this argument from @Greg :

I challenge you to find any other team that has deep roots in both the Polkadot ecosystem and in Korea, and I think you will find none better.

It’s not my favorite rationale, but it is a pragmatic one. I have tilted to the support side and hope team succeeds. Increased Polkadot awareness and engagement in Korea are outcomes I emphatically hope for.

Oh, and @wcroisettier - I’d love to meet up sometime when you’re in town. Drinks are on me. Same goes for @ericwang and @hoonkim.

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I think this is a great initiative and I support the idea of expanding Polkadot’s presence in South Korea. As one of the most developed and tech-savvy markets in Asia, South Korea has a lot of potential for blockchain adoption and innovation. Polkadot, as a leading interoperability protocol, can offer many benefits to the Korean blockchain ecosystem, such as scalability, security, and diversity. By launching the Decentralized Futures Program, Web3 Foundation shows its commitment to empowering the Polkadot community and fostering decentralized development. I am curious to see the details of the proposal and how it will address the challenges and opportunities of the Korean market. I hope this project will succeed and bring more awareness and adoption of Polkadot in Korea and beyond.

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Further expanding initiatives in Asia, especially also South Korea is great to see!

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Great initiative. Having seen first hand the excitement and demand for blockchain technologies at last year’s KBW, I’m glad to see an experienced and credible team stepping up to penetrate this important market. I worked with Will and Eric closely while at Parity and have full confidence they’ll execute on their proposed mandate. Good luck guys!

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