Korea launches 'Winter of Code'

New student developer contest aims to nurture talent in the South Korean open source community.

The South Korean government and local tech companies have started an open source student developer contest, similar to Google's Summer of Code.

Dubbed Winter of Code, the competition will begin during Korea's winter recess in January next year. Organized by Korean games publisher NCsoft, local IT firms and the Korea IT Industry Promotion Agency, the contest aims to nurture new developers and promote open source software development in the country.

But unlike Summer of Code, the Korean contest is the first one that involves companies and the Korean open source community. In addition, projects entered will also stand a chance of being commercialized.

Bum-jun Kim of NCsoft, which co-sponsored the contest, said he hopes the event will foster a more vibrant open source community, and encourage collaboration among local IT companies.

Soon-seon Kwon, who runs the Korean Linux documentation project, added: "This is the first ever open source event in Korea and I hope it will serve as a good opportunity to promote open source to Korean students.

"I also hope that both the students and resulting projects can put a positive effect on the open source community," he said.

Each open source project will be run by one student and his mentor, who must be a professional developer in the related field of the project. When the project is completed, the participant is awarded about 1 million won (US$1,000).

Projects will be judged by students' mentors initially, before advancing to the second round of judging by project sponsors. Bonus prize money will also be awarded to the top project in the competition.

However, participants must speak fluent Korean to communicate with the event sponsors. The contest is open to students from middle to high school, as well as colleges, trade and graduate schools. Applications can be submitted from the contest Web site from Dec. 4 to 20.

Hyangseon Lee of ZDNet Korea reported from Seoul, South Korea.