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Kakao CEO quits, South Korea hits emergency button after dire datacenter blaze

Almost, but not quite, that moment of Big Tech accountability you've been waiting for

One of the CEOs of South Korean super-app Kakao has resigned in the wake of the datacenter fire that disrupted it and other web giants.

Kakao operates messaging, rideshare, e-commerce and many other services in South Korea. Most were unavailable for much of the weekend after a fire at the third-party datacenter hosting its infrastructure necessitated a shutdown.

Disruption to everyday activities in South Korea was so severe that senior government figures scolded Kakao, the datacenter's operator SK C&C, and Naver, another major online service impacted by the blaze.

Kakao has made a statement [PDF] to the Seoul Stock Exchange that reveals co-CEO Whon Namkoong has resigned from his position, leaving just Euntaek Hong at the helm.

Local media report Whon’s resignation was an act of contrition for the outage, and that he apologised for his failures.

Hong has also apologised in a post that links to applications for compensation.

The Register's request for comment to SK C&C has gone unanswered and if the company or its parent, the SK Group, has made a public statement about the fire, we cannot find it. So this may not quite be a moment in which Big Tech is properly contrite about its failings.

The incident has also seen South Korea's government convene an interagency task force to consider cybersecurity and resilience. Some of the agencies involved have said they will hold hearings to probe the outage.

That national response is an eloquent statement of just how much the fire and subsequent outages impacted everyday life in South Korea, and the resulting shock and disquiet at how such an incident could be so very disruptive.

Kakao has come in for particular criticism because its infrastructure was unhelpfully concentrated in the flammable facility.

And now the incident has claimed a CEO, a level of response The Register cannot recall following comparable outages elsewhere. OVH's fire in Strasbourg, for example, destroyed customer data and took many businesses offline for weeks without resulting in an executive's career being derailed. ®

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