chapter  15
15 Pages

Gifts of Presence: A Case Study of a South Korean Virtual Community, Cyworld’s Mini-hompy

ByLARISSA HJORTH

In a period marked by the rise of online communities and when user-created content (UCC) is increasingly becoming a part of daily life, one is left to question what effect this is having on online and offl ine relations. What types of social gift-giving are being created via the Internet? Does Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of popular networking site MySpace represent a new frontier in global media, where viral marketing is vicariously seeded in social capital? A world where identity is so fl exible and mutable that online forms of individualism override offl ine forms of community, as is often the case in MySpace? Or do virtual communities, such as the South Korean (now global) Cyworld mini-hompy-that merges avatars and gaming, blogging, and forums-offer an alternative future?1