The heart of Cyworld revolves around buddies and user home pages. Wikipedia discusses both these further:
Cyworld revolves around buddy relationships. These relations are formed when one member sends an invite to another member and the invite is accepted. Buddies can then view each others minihompy and exchange contact information.
For close friends, you can set up a special relationship that will tell you when they are logged on and when they have updated their minihompy.
Buddy relationships can be freely ended by either member. The other member is not directly notified, but the former buddys name will disappear from the buddylist.
The main feature of Cyworld is the service called minihompy, which combines a photo gallery, message board, guestbook, video, and personal bulletin board. What sets Cyworld apart from traditional blog sites such as Blogger and LiveJournal is the “miniroom”, which is the virtual room where the blogger’s cyberspace avatar, or “mini me”, lives. Users can choose to buy wallpapers, clothes for their virtual counterparts, furnishings, background music, banners, fonts and other decorations for their minihompy. To buy these items, users must first exchange their real world currency with Cyworld money called “dotori” – literally translated, “acorns.” Most of these items are time-limited, and automatically disappear once that time has expired.
The typical layout for a minihompy has a title (e.g., “This is Xs minihompy”), and four main areas. The left column has a photo, followed by a brief description and user information (name, blood type, birthday, address, etc.), and links to mutual buddies minihompys. The center area displays the main content (profile, photo gallery, bulletin board, diary, etc.). On the intro page, this area features the users avatar and miniroom, as well as recent postings, and an area for visitors to leave short comments. Off to the right side is a quick menu of links to all the pages of the minihompy, and to the far right is a window that tracks various statistics such as number of visitors.
The Age wrote in a May 2005 article:
Cyworld is like a new planet. On it everyone has a private room and a circle of friends who bring gifts. As well there is an inexhaustible range of home decoration possibilities and cool music.
In its orbit, around South Korea, Cyworld is both a giant in the ever-widening galaxy of cyberspace and a community website.
To its inhabitants, it is a self-sustaining society. Cyworld has 13 million residents and visitors, more than a quarter of the country’s population. And with it has come its own currency, slang and social pressure.
In Cyworld an address is a “minihompy”, which is short for mini homepage or, between friends, simply a “hompy”. A person with a homepage is called a “mini-me”.
When new Cyworld citizens sign up, they get a featureless empty room as part of their homepage package. The challenge is to decorate it and then construct a personality for “mini-me”.
Money pours in when the Cyworld population goes on a decorating, gift-buying or music downloading spree to adorn their “room”. The more attractive and interesting the room, the more visitors it gets. And in Cyworld, popularity equates to fame and success. The site even measures sexiness and friendliness, which it gauges by the number of gifts a person gives or receives.
Continue reading TECH TALK: Cyworld: Key Features