Korean police have raided the offices of SK Group, and the SK data center which caught fire last weekend, bringing Kakao's Internet services down.

Local police confiscated documents relating to the fire, which brought down the KakaoTalk messaging service on Saturday.

Korea MSIT minister Lee Jong-Ho.jfif
MSIT Minister Lee Jong-Ho at a quantum computing event – MSIT, Korea

KakaoTalk is used by 90 percent of South Koreans, and the outage brought down many finance and travel applications that rely on KakaoTalk IDs. The disruption continued for much of this week, and the data center is still operating without backup power, so further disruption is possible in the next three weeks.

Kakao, which has seen one of its CEOs step down in the wake of the incident, has blamed SK's Li-ion batteries for the fire.

The police will also be interrogating SK Group officials, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Mandatory safety drills for data centers

Meanwhile, the country's Ministry for Science and ICT (MSIT) is stepping in to impose disaster management procedures on private companies in Korea. All the country's large data centers will be subject to a government disaster management system, and subject to regular inspections and safety drills, according to Korea JoongAng Daily.

The measures were announced in a release on Friday, which promised to establish a center for disaster prevention for digital infrastructure, which will address private data centers as well as government facilities.

Nationwide inspections of data centers and network infrastructure will be carried out by MSIT with the National Fire Agency, and an expert group will create a list of measures to improve data center safety.

Small and mid-sized companies are likely to be exempt from inspections, the ministry said.

Further out, MSIT says it wants safer data center equipment, including all-solid-state batteries, JoongAng Daily reports.

The announcement follows meetings by Lee Jong-Ho, Minister of Science and ICT (MSIT) and his staff on Thursday with local data center operators and industry groups including KT Cloud, LG U+, SK Broadband, LG CNS, Samsung SDS, LOTTE Data Communication, Hana TI, Korea Data Center Council, Korea Information & Communication Industry Institute.

Operators briefed Minister Lee on protection measures for data center facilities including backup power, and the need for batteries and fire protection, as well as discussing the preparation needed for emergencies. They agreed to cooperate on power management and fire detection.

Earlier, Vice Minister Park Yun Kyu was briefed on the status of the service recovery and power availability at SK Group's Pangyo data center, and noted that many services were now operating normally, and called for continuous efforts to restore the emergency power systems.

“MSIT will actively work with experts in related fields to secure data center stability through measures including protection guideline improvements,” said Vice Minister Park.

Today, the ICT ministry also held meetings to discuss safety measures with international data center operators and hyperscalers, including Google, Netflix, Meta Platforms, Woowa Brothers, Daangn Market, and Amazon Web Services.

Get a roundup of the latest regional news across Asia fortnightly