Discaimer: Google is my current employer. This post is purely personal and therefore does not represent the company's official voice in any ways whatsoever.
Google Korea has that radically breaks out of the company's trademark scantiness. Google's Korean homepage now displays more content right up on its front page, featuring popular search keywords, most searched-for people ("who's hot"), and the directory of Google Korea's services.
What's most interesting on Google Korea's homepage is machine-produced "topical search keywords". Google looks at what topics people are most interested in, and present those topics as search keywords in the form of short headlines. (This is purely algorithmic and no human efforts are involved in the whole process.) This way, viewers are immediately drawn into the subjects and are likely to click on the headlines -- by doing which they are essentially undertaking internet search on Google. In Korea, much of internet search is done this way, meaning browsing through links and clicking on interesting ones, as opposed to entering fresh search keywords into the search box. (Not that the latter is nonexistent, though.)
Korean blogosphere seems to be torn on this "portalization" of Google Korea's homepage. Some like it, saying Koreans should give credit to Google Korea for its efforts to radically customize its global service to better suit the local needs. Others say Google Korea may lose its identity, and this catch-up game won't help Google to overcome the local incumbents.
It remains to be seen if Google Korea's move will help or hurt the company to gain more turf in this tough Korean market, but one thing is very clear: This is a very big move by Google. This new, content-rich homepage is only available in Korea -- and this is worlds apart from Google's . In a way, this shows Google is very much committed to the Korean market, even to the point where the company is willing to ditch its hallmark simpleness, something many in and out of the company has long regarded to be near impossible. Will Koreans like this move and pay more visit to Google Korea for their internet search? The jury is still very much out.