What is KaKaoTalk? The Complete 2021 Guide

KakaoTalk
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Korea International School

What is KakaoTalk?

KakaoTalk messenger app dominates in South Korea, and after launching in March 2010, the service gained around a 90% domestic market share in 2015.  This free app is so ubiquitous at home that it has become a neologism, with many Koreans frequently abbreviating the product’s name to a verb, such as, “I’ll Ka-talk you” or “Ka-talk me later.” ‘Ka-talk’ is an abbreviation of Kakao talk, why use three syllables when two will do? It’s almost guaranteed that members of BTS and every other popular K-pop figure use the app as well.

Why is KaKaoTalk so popular in Korea?

Koreans are proud of KakaoTalk being a homegrown product, but it’s also full of convenient, enjoyable features.

  • Send or receive personal messages
  • Send or receive photos, videos, links, and files
  • Take part in group chats with an unlimited number of participants
  • Find out instantly if your message has been viewed
  • Use any number of interesting and unique emoticons
  • Customizable UI with themes, fonts, background photo, etc.
  • Make voice and video calls over the internet, no need to burn data
  • Works on almost any device with an internet connection, also syncs across devices using the same ID

The best thing is that most of KakaoTalk’s functions are free. Moreover, the app has tons of popular games, banking features, on-line shopping, Daum Mail, maps, and numerous other platform links, which makes it even more convenient for users.

Is KakaoTalk safe?

Concerns surrounding privacy arose over 2014-2015 when the then-president Park Geun-hye was under investigation and KakaoTalk’s parent company agreed to provide her chat history to prosecutors. While most citizens found the decision appropriate, it did lead to increased privacy concerns. In response, Kakao began offering an end-to-end encrypted chatting option (E2EE) that ensures the privacy of messages. This is not a default feature, however, so users must select Secret Chat mode to use E2EE, which is also only available for mobile users of the app. 

Here’s how you use the Secret Chat mode:

Kakaotalk secret chat

Is KakaoTalk a Dating App?

No, at least not intentionally. Some might be confused since the app involves chatting, but KakaoTalk is used by all generations in South Korea, with its main purpose being P2P communication.

Is KaKaoTalk free internationally?

Yes, if you have internet access, which means KakaoTalk is free to use for sending messages, photos, and videos along with making voice and video calls. Users should note that the speed of transfers and quality of calls will depend on internet connections at either end of  the communication.

Is KaKaoTalk banned in China?

Chinese authorities actively block myriad applications ostensibly to fight terrorism, including KakaoTalk and LINE, so if you want to use either in China, you’ll need a virtual private network (VPN) or some other means of circumventing the Chinese Communist Wall.

How To Use KakaoTalk

Download KaKaoTalk to a Mobile Device or PC – App Store – Apple

KakaoTalk: Free Calls & Text – Apps on Google Play

Kakaotalk is available on every major app store, just type ‘kakaotalk’ on your mobile’s app store and follow the directions. 

How to Install KakaoTalk on a PC

Type ‘download kakaotalk pc’ in google or any other search engine and it should be one of the first links you see. Select the ‘Windows’ or ‘Mac OS’ version according to your OS. 

You can access the direct link here.

Kakaotalk PC

How to Sign Up & Login to KakaoTalk

After downloading KakaoTalk, sign up by entering your phone number, whether it’s a domestic Korean number or an overseas number, and you should receive a text message with a 4-digit verification code. Once verified, you can set up your KakaoTalk profile: name, ID, e-mail, password, profile photo, etc. Please note that your primary email and ID are not modifiable, but you will be able to change your name, phone number, password, and profile photo whenever you like.

How to Change your Ringtone on KakaoTalk

Users can customize ringtones by individual contact and specific chat groups.

To change ringtones for message notifications, go to Settings – Notifications – Notifications Tones. You may also choose other options, such as whether or not you’d like to see message previews. 

change ringtone

To change ringtones for your voice/video calls, go to Settings – Call – RingTone.

change ringtone

How to Block Someone on KakaoTalk

If you ever wish to stop receiving messages from a certain individual, find them in your KakaoTalk Friend List and swipe their name to the left to see a red ‘Block’ button. 

block friends

In the case you select ‘hide’ instead of ‘block’, that person will no longer appear on the friend list. However messages will still be received from him or her. 

If you have received a message from someone you don’t know, you will see a warning in the chat. Simply press the ‘Block’ button if you don’t want to receive messages from them. 

block friends screenshot

The list of blocked friends can be found under Settings – General settings – Friends – Blocked Friends.

block friends screenshot

Here, you may choose to unblock, meaning you’ll be able to receive messages from this specific person again. If you press ‘Add’, anyone previously blocked will return to your list of friends and be able send you messages. ‘Cancel’, on the other hand, won’t return him or her to the list, but only enable you to receive the messages.

How To Back Up Your Kakao Talk Account & Get Help

It’s also recommended that all Kakao Talk users regularly log into their account on a second device. This way your chats and contacts will be saved and accessible if your phone is ever lost or stolen. Note that entire chat histories, photos, and videos will not necessarily be saved, but at least you won’t have to go re-adding all of your friends and other contacts.

For additional support, see Kakao Talk’s English help page.


If you find this article helpful, leave a comment below! You can check out how to use other services by the Kakao group in our articles on “How To Add the KakaoMap App English Language Feature” and “How To Use KakaoTaxi For English Speakers“.

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