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Kakao and Naver, two major South Korean internet service providers, experienced major service interruptions due to a datacenter fire causing infrastructure shutdowns.

The datacenter in question was operated by C&C, a division of South Korean conglomerate SK. The datacenter was responsible for providing a wide range of tech and cloud infrastructure services.

SK C&C bills itself as a ‘total digital transformation partner’ and operates a total of three datacenters. During the weekend, the datacenter located south of Seoul caught fire. It was constructed in 2014, covering almost 67,000 square meters. According to SK C&C, the datacenter contained the ‘latest eco-friendly technology’.

The reason behind the fire and the extent of the blaze have not yet been disclosed. The Register inquired the company to comment further on the Saturday afternoon incident, which ended with terrible consequences for local web giants Kakao and Naver.

Naver and Kakao

The two internet service-providing companies are favoured by locals. The country takes pride in the fact that Kakao’s messenger is more popular than Facebook’s, and Naver was able to beat Google at its own game. The companies’ portfolios include portals, transport, voice comms, e-commerce and financial services. South Koreans depend on the two and expect their services to be available 24/7. However, services were down for many hours following the fire incident.

In a blog post, Kakao apologized for the service interruptions to the public while admitting that disaster recovery efforts were slow, which is why the company has announced an Emergency Response Committee along with three sub-committees. The first committee will gather information on the cause of the fire, the second will focus on developing disaster countermeasures and the third will arrange compensation for stakeholders.

In turn, Naver announced that “some functions such as search, news, shopping, cafe, blog, open talk, and smart store center had errors”. The company added that all services have been fully restored at this time. The fire incident demonstrates the country’s dependence on local web companies, where any disturbance can result in a national security threat. Lee Jong-ho, minister for science and ICT, has been tasked by the president with crisis management.

The consequences are worse for Kakao than Naver. Kakao had a fragile disaster recovery plan. Moreover, the incident occurred before the company could fall back onto its own datacenters, which are currently in construction and not expected to finish before 2023. Naver, on the other hand, already operates a datacenter of its own. SK C&C has not yet publicly commented on the fire.

Tip: OVH opens fire-fortified datacenter at the site of its 2021 fire