Have you ever tried Google Street View? It’s one of those neat features Google incorporated in two of their highly popular web applications – Google Earth and Google Maps. Introduced in 2007, Google Street View lets users zoom in on a particular location (considered it was already pre-photographed) on Google Earth and Google Maps and provides them with a 3D panoramic view of the said location. It’s like you’ve been magically transported to that scene in seconds. You get to see the sights and scenes of the locale, check out what stores and other amenities that place has to offer, and you can even tour the famous landmarks of the world without spending loads of cash for your airline tickets and hotel accommodations. It’s all free, it’s convenient (it’s available on your iPhone), and it’s highly useful.
My only gripe with Google Street View at the moment is that it hasn’t covered my home country yet, the Philippines, and my now adopted homeland, South Korea. I’ve read somewhere that the Philippines is not yet on the list of countries Google is planning to cover to be featured on the Street View application. In the case of South Korea, Google had already started its initial phase of the coverage for this side of the Korean peninsula as early as last year, but a major fiasco involving an alleged wifi-tapping incident resulting to illegal collection of personal information was thrown out to Google by the South Korean authorities this year which put the Google South Korea’s Street View coverage, unfortunately, on indefinite hold.
But there’s still hope (actually there’s two) for anyone who wishes to experience South Korea virtually in Street View style.
First of these Google Street View alternatives for South Korea is the Daum Map (or the Daum Local). The Daum Map actually works like Google Maps, so if you’re familiar with using Google Maps before, you won’t have a hard time tweaking Daum Map to your preference.
Using Daum Map can get a little tricky at first if you don’t have any knowledge in Korean (everything are labeled in Korean, including the application tools and the places) but knowing the uses of the icons (like the plane on the top right side of the map let’s you toggle between map view and satellite view, and the webcam beside the plane activates the Road View feature) can be extremely handy. (There are user reports saying that loading Daum Map outside Korea on your web browser can be extremely slow. I hope Daum could fix this bug soon.)
Next is Naver Map. Naver, to some of you who might not know is the most popular and most visited website here in South Korea. It’s the Korean version of Google. Knowing Koreans and their loyalty to all-things Korean, Google will have a hard time topping Naver in their own turf. Koreans love Naver and Naver owns South Korea’s cyberspace. So if Google can’t provide Street View here in South Korea, Naver will deliver. So following Daum’s footsteps, Naver created another Google Street View clone for South Korea and incorporated it in their popular own web mapping app called Naver Map.
Much like Daum Map, Naver Map is also labeled in Korean so a basic knowledge of reading and writing Korean will let you use the map’s useful features and tools to your full advantage. But if you’re not, the icons on the top right side of the map above the zoom in scale (just like Daum Map) can help you navigate the site more easily.