SEOUL: Naver, South Korea's leading internet portal and search engine, has announced major investment in new areas of technology that are already being explored by US internet giants.

Lee Hae-jin, the outgoing chairman, indicated the new direction at the firm's developer conference in Seoul last month when he said: "In order to compete with Google and Facebook in the borderless internet realm, gaining (core) technology is vital. (Naver) will actively invest in decent technology and promising start-ups."

Serious money has now been committed to this vision, with 500 billion won (US$425.4m) over the next five years being allocated to develop technologies in artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, Yonhap reported.

Ultimately, Naver is aiming to become a technology platform that can make these advanced technologies available to third parties, according to the Korea Herald.

"Our job is to merge these advanced technologies with Naver's main services, and translate them to user-friendly tools that creators, small businesses and users can take advantage of," said Han Seong-sook, executive vice president of Naver's services division.

That includes a context-awareness digital assistant service named AMICA that can answer and respond to user needs through app download or installation in motor vehicles.

Another application of AI is its Papago app, that can translate text, speech and images of words or phrases into other languages.

Earlier Naver also announced its intention to invest in Europe – and to promote the exchange of technology, services and experience between IT companies in Korea, Asia and Europe – and to bring its popular messaging app Line to new markets.

Data sourced from Yonhap, The Investor, Pulse, Korea Herald; additional content by Warc staff