Just 73km long and 41km wide, South Korea's island of Jeju packs in an incredibly rich natural and cultural heritage. Two million years after it was born from a volcanic eruption, this windswept island has become a popular holiday destination for Koreans and many tourists across Asia. Join us on a whirlwind tour of Jeju on Google Cultural Institute and Street View to see why.

Explore Jeju’s UNESCO World Wonders in 360 degrees
Volcanoes, mountains, caves, waterfalls—Jeju’s got them all. No wonder UNESCO designated it as a World Natural Heritage site in 2007 and we’ve now captured some of these views as online panoramas on Street View. Here are some of the new vistas on Google Maps and under the World Wonders section of the Google Cultural Institute:

Seongsan Ilchulbong
Rising above the hills of eastern Jeju, Seongsan Ilchulbong is one of the island’s highest peaks, and features a distinctive volcanic crater at its summit that inspired its name, “castle mountain sunrise peak.”
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The vista over Seongsan Ilchulbong
Oreum means “hill” in Jeju’s local dialect, though it actually refers to a small volcanic zone. Jeju is home to many of these mini-volcanoes and “Geomunoreum” is named “black hill” after the forest that grows in its center crater, so dense it appears black:

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The forests at Geomunoreum
Manjang Cave
Created by ancient hot lava flows, Manjang Cave is one of the biggest lava tubes in the world. Only 1 km of its estimated 7.4km is open to tourists — Street View takes you inside for a glimpse of this huge natural tunnel.
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Manjang Cave 
Zoom into Jeju’s history with the Art Project
The Jeju National Museum has documented the cultural history of this island from its earliest artifacts, such as archaeological tools made from abalone shells dating to the Neolithic Age, all the way to the Joseon Dynasty, which lasted five centuries from 1392 to 1897. Today, they have put over 150 items onto the Google Cultural Institute, as well as two online exhibitions called Hallasan Mountain and Korean Horses: Galloping Across Space and Time.

One of the highlights of the museum’s collection is Tamna Sullyeokdo, a book of paintings from 1702, which depicts the events and landscapes from the Jeju governor’s royal procession around the island. You can zoom into the painting at high resolution to appreciate all the minute details.
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Zoom into the details of the Tamna Sullyeokdo from the Jeju National Museum
Dive down with Jeju’s haenyeo in Historical Moments
Jeju is famous for its haenyeo, or “sea women,” who dive year-round to harvest abalone, conches, and other marine life. For generations, these courageous haenyeo have supported their families and the island’s economy by braving the freezing waters surrounding the island. Now, with the the population of female divers dwindling and aging (most of the haenyeo are in their 60s), it is more important than ever to preserve memories about this unique tradition for future generations.

The Jeju Provincial Self-governing Haenyeo Museum has documented the haenyeo’s customs since 2006. By unveiling four online exhibitions on the Cultural Institute they have curated today, we hope to convey the rugged, difficult depths that the women divers have frequented. Exhibits and photos of haenyeo are also highlighted as part of the Google Cultural Institute’s Women in Culture feature.
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Imagery from the new Jeju Haenyeo exhibit on Google Cultural Institute
We are proud to help not only Koreans but people all over the world to virtually visit and explore the heritage of one of the country’s most beloved destinations. From the picturesque woods of Geomunoreum to the mysterious depths of the Manjang Caves, we hope you’ll be inspired by Jeju’s beauty that you’ll come and visit it in person one day.

Posted by Amit Sood, Director of the Google Cultural Institute

Recently we released new research called “The Consumer Barometer”, providing powerful insights into the way consumers are using the web across 46 countries worldwide.

What’s clear from the data is that Asia is leading a mobile revolution. To put it another way, Asia has gone mobile-first. This is no longer a future trend, on some dim and distant horizon—it’s already happened in the past year. What do we mean by “mobile-first”? Well, for starters, Asia takes gold and silver for top smartphone adoption—Singapore is now #1 in the world at 85%, and Korea is just behind at 80%. This might not come as a surprise since these are both, after all, advanced economies.

What really puts this in perspective is when you look at computer adoption figures. In most countries computer adoption is still high, but what’s new is that across Asia—especially Southeast Asia—smartphone adoption has overtaken computer adoption for the first time in the past year. The trend is true in countries of all sizes and stages of economic development: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, not to mention Hong Kong and China.

Asia has leapfrogged the desktop internet

Source: The Consumer Barometer, 2014

Source: The Consumer Barometer, 2014

What about the West? Well, that’s where things get really interesting. It turns out this is a thoroughly Asian trend. There are (from this survey at least) no countries outside Asia where smartphone penetration is higher than computer penetration.

If we needed any further evidence that Asia has gone mobile-first, take a look at the figures for users who only go online via smartphones. Across Asia, especially Southeast Asia, we see many high double-digit numbers, but in the West this is largely a single-digit, or low double-digit trend.

In Asia, mobile is a must have
Source: The Consumer Barometer, 2014.

In Asia, consumers are living in a mobile-first world that needs new products and services built with mobile in mind, not as an after thought or nice-to-have. There’s a great chance here for Asian businesses to lead the world in mobile-first innovation by reacting fast to the revolution that’s happened on the streets right outside their office doors. All they need to do is heed the consumers’ call.

A note on the research:
For more insights like these, head to where you can explore the results of our survey carried out by Taylor Nelson Sofres and Google across 46 countries covering device usage and online access, how people shop and watch and the role of digital in the path-to-purchase.

Posted by Simon Kahn, Chief Marketing Officer, Google Asia Pacific

“I believe the Internet is essential in this day and age” is a statement with which women in Asia unequivocally agree. That’s according to a survey of over 5,000 women across the region we conducted to understand better Asia’s digital gender divide. Women in Asia Pacific, whether they’re in Japan or India, value the Internet above all for the access it gives them to the information they want, and to communicate with people who are important to them. They also embrace the possibilities it offers for work and play.

But the digital gender divide remains. In some countries, women are half as likely as men to be online. In India, for example, just 21% of women use the Internet compared to 41% of men. The good news is the gap’s narrowing. In the Philippines, in fact, marginally more women are online than men.
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Source: 2014 TNS Connected Consumer Study for Google

Over the next few months, we’ll be digging into the data to show how the story varies from country to country. But at the regional level, some broad themes are clear:

1. The Internet still needs to prove its value to women
Many women in emerging markets who haven’t used the Internet doubt that it would be of use to them, or don’t know how to use it the way they’d want to. 35% of women across India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand can’t see any reason to access the Internet, and 30% say they don’t know how to do the things they’d want to do online. In contrast, just 18% of women across these markets are prevented from going online because access is too expensive.
2. Community is the most trusted source of Internet knowledge
Demonstrating what the web has to offer is a priority, and community learning is essential to unlocking the Internet for women in emerging markets. 73% of women who are likely to go online in these countries say they would prefer to receive information and instruction from friends and families. With this in mind, we have been working on creating opportunities, such as in Thailand, for women to come together in telecenters to access the Internet, learn and be inspired to use technology. Or in India, where we’re showing female students, housewives and professionals how the Internet is relevant to their day-to-day lives through search, video and email at government-run Internet centers.
3. Usefulness comes mixed with judgment
In developed markets, where Internet penetration is high, women also value the web as a tool to help them juggle dual roles in and out of the home. Ultimately, however, they face conflicting personal and societal expectations, and believe that neither society nor workplaces sufficiently cater for their roles as an employee and wife or mother.

More than 70% of working women in Australia and Korea believe the Internet can help improve the flexibility that they need in the workplace to meet their responsibilities in and out of the home. However, in Japan, organizational behaviour and cultural norms are at odds with this; just 43% of Japanese women think the Internet can help address the need for greater flexiblity at work. We recently started a program to understand how flexible work styles, including the use of Internet-enabled tools, can gain more acceptance in the country.

These are just some of the insights that we’ve gleaned so far. We look forward to sharing and discussing learnings from the research in the coming months, and to working together to develop approaches that we hope will help more women get the most out of the Internet. In the meantime, you’ll find some of our survey data and can learn more about our existing programs on the Women Will site.

Posted by Michelle Guthrie, Managing Director, Agencies, Google APAC and APAC lead for Women@Google

Editor’s note: This guest post comes from Dasho Kinley Dorji, Honorable Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication, Kingdom of Bhutan. We are grateful to the Honorable Secretary for welcoming Street View to Bhutan and for sharing his experience with readers of our blog.

Anyone with an Internet connection can now visit our “hermit kingdom” of Bhutan, go on a virtual tour over its formidable mountain passes and through its lush valleys.
A view of Trongsa Dzong from Street View

Wangdue Phodrang

On Thursday, we launched Bhutan’s Street View project in the capital city Thimphu, a twenty-month initiative during which a Google Street View vehicle drove more than 3,000 kilometers over winding mountain roads to film terrain that had remained hidden for centuries.

Ura Highway winding through Bumthang

Street View provides dramatic views of our kingdom’s centuries-old heritage sites that include the monastic fortresses which house monks and government leaders, monasteries where Bhutanese and foreigners travel for days on pilgrimage, institutions where Buddhist novitiates study and seasoned monks meditate, and pristine villages where sustenance farmers live in close harmony with nature.

For the government of Bhutan, going on Street View is yet another step in reaching out to the world, albeit with its characteristic caution. With tourism being a priority for the country's socio-economic development, government officials reasoned that Street View images would be an introduction for visitors who were truly interested in going to one of the world's best known hotspots.

Today’s tourist wants a good look at the place where he or she may be spending an annual holiday or using much-valued savings on a family trip. Street View will help many of them make that decision, choose a hotel, and plan their trip.

For my colleagues in the government, the Street View project is also a strategy to look at their own country from a new perspective. They believe it will help them plan heritage maintenance projects, look at the condition of their roads and satellite towns, and take stock of conditions across the country.

It is also a step forward in Bhutan’s digital journey. The Government has declared a vision of building an ICT-enabled knowledge society, an “intelligent society that learns to learn”. Our Ministry, the Ministry of Information and Communications, which cleared the Street View project, is currently carrying out a mandate to take the country from Governance to e-Governance. We are also aiming at a “paperless” or “less paper” government. This is also an important step in that direction.

Posted by Dasho Kinley Dorji, Honorable Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication, Kingdom of Bhutan

Centuries after the reign of Genghis Khan, Mongolia’s nomadic lifestyle and rugged terrain fill the imagination of many travelers seeking their next adventure...our Street View cars included.

In Ulaanbaatar today, we kicked off collection of imagery at a ceremony with the city’s mayor. A pick-up truck equipped with Google Trekker will explore the streets of the capital before heading to the steppe to bring imagery of Mongolia’s vast and beautiful landscapes to people around the globe.
Our latest Street View vehicle, in front of the Mongolian Parliament Building in Ulaanbaatar, about to head off on its own Mongolian adventure
For those of you who can’t wait, we’ve already added panoramic Street View imagery of a few sites around the capital, including the 13th Century Complex, Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue and Genghis Khan Square.
13th Century Complex
Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue
We're also working with the National Museum of Mongolia, the Bogd Khaan Palace and the Zanazabar Museum of Fine Arts to put their exhibits onto the Google Cultural Institute. Very soon, more people from around the world will be able to admire and learn more about Mongolia’s rich cultural heritage with the click of a mouse.

Posted by Nishant Nair, Street View Program Manager, Google Asia Pacific

Editor’s note: Last month we held the first-ever YouTube FanFest in Korea, a live performance by some of YouTube’s top stars in Korea and around the world. Instead of telling you how much fun the audience had with creators such as 정성하 Sungha Jung, 양띵 YD and Liah Yoo, we invited a fan to share her experiences seeing and meeting her favorite YouTube stars.

Puteri Safia from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

You might ask what a girl from Kuala Lumpur is doing such a long way from home at YouTube FanFest in Korea. I’m actually on a Malaysian government scholarship, studying in Seoul. It wasn’t easy coming here and adjusting to my new life at first, and this is when YouTube became as important as Google Search to me. I slowly learned about Korean culture and language from vloggers like Josh and Ollie who are behind Korean Englishman.

These guys are my inspiration and I’m pretty sure other foreigners currently studying in Korea feel the same way. ​Check out the smiles of me and my friends hanging with Josh and Ollie before the show—we were pretty excited!

We never had the chance to meet any YouTube stars or other famous people back in Malaysia, so coming to FanFest in Seoul was a pretty amazing experience. I even got to meet Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider. I’ve been a big fan of theirs ever since I watched their version of Don’t Stop Believing five years ago. I love how they add their own touch to their collaborations on cover songs. Here’s a picture of me and Kurt—my sign really got his attention!

The whole show was fantastic and we really got into the spirit of things by dressing up in YouTube’s red and white colors on the night…

My favorite Korean YouTubers SSIN and Sungha Jung were also at FanFest. SSIN uploads useful makeup and beauty tips, and Sungha Jung is a very special YouTube musician. You can see them on stage here with all the other YTFF performers:

Sungha Jung doesn’t say much in his videos, but one thing’s for sure—he speaks to his fans all over the world with his guitar. Here he is performing on the night:

One thing I love about these YouTube stars is how humble they are. It’s also inspiring when you think about how they started from scratch, coming out of nowhere, really. They show the world that if they can do it, so can we!

Posted by Puteri Safia from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Editor’s note: This guest post comes from Dr. Naoyuki Kitamura whose company, Medical Network Systems Inc, relies on the cloud to efficiently power a medical diagnosis system that helps look after the needs of communities in remote parts of Japan.

Japan faces a critical shortage of radiologists. Although major hospitals are well equipped to conduct scans, the scarcity of experts to read the images and give patients their diagnoses means that people—especially those living in rural areas—often have to wait a long time to receive their results. This can have tragic consequences for people with serious conditions.

To address this shortage and help people get accurate diagnoses faster, Medical Network Systems Inc started a remote diagnosis service in 2000. Rather than waiting for patients to come to hospitals, we began bringing the radiology equipment to them in buses. However, we were still short on radiologists who could read the scans, and wanted to find ways to give patients in remote areas access to these specialists.
Last year, our team started using Google Cloud Platform to power our remote-diagnosis systems. Patients used to be given a hard copy of their scan to take to a doctor or specialist. Moving the process to the cloud speeds everything up. Our technicians upload images and scans right from the bus and specialists can then log into the system from wherever they’re working, review the scans and diagnose the patient remotely.

Reading scans is a very specialized process. Radiologists must examine many images in a very particular sequence, and it’s important that there are no lags or that it’s slow. One of the benefits of using Google’s services is that they can handle massive volumes of information efficiently. Google App Engine processes the images and data in the right sequence and enables us to cross-reference patient inputs with existing radiographic and pathological information.

Instead of waiting a few days or a week for a diagnosis, which was the usual turnaround for our teleradiology service, patients can now get their results within a few hours. And it’s not just our patients benefiting from remote diagnosis; enabling our radiologists to work from anywhere has meant that many of our female specialists are able to stay in the workforce. They’re able to work from home and look after their kids at the same time. With so few radiologists in Japan, this flexibility helps us keep skilled technicians in the workforce.

We’re optimistic about the potential for cloud-based technology to enrich our understanding of pathological issues and believe it signals a new chapter for the healthcare industry by removing geographical barriers between patients and doctors.

Posted by Dr. Naoyuki Kitamura, CEO, Medical Network Systems Inc, Japan