The Curious Case of Internet Explorer 6 in South Korea

The Curious Case of Internet Explorer 6 in South Korea
   As a devoted StarCraft fan I happen to know a bit more about South Korea than the regular European. One of the things I know is that it is very high-tech country. This is why I was surprised to find out that 22% of the Internet users in South Korea today use Internet Explorer 6. This is really big number second only to China. How come this tech savvy nation ends up with such a big usage share of this outdated browser?

   What I found out was that in the late 90s the Korean government decided to go online and promote online banking and shopping. However at the time there was no really secure technology to allow that. SSL was still young and flawed and used weak, 40-bit encryption. So the Koreans built their own encryption called SEED. SEED was a 128 bit encryption and one of the most secure algorithms available to the general public. The use of SEED was made mandatory for everything that included online transactions including banking and government websites. In order to use SEED one needed to install a plugin for Internet Explorer or Netscape.

   Fast forward 10 years and Netscape is nowhere to be found and Internet Explorer is the only way to do online transactions in Korea. The fact that MS introduced additional security warnings for ActiveX plugins did not help a little bit because many users were annoyed and just did not upgrade to newer versions. When the Second Browser War began the Korean government did not update the law fast enough and Korean users were locked into Microsoft’s Browser. It seems like the law has been changed now and Korea is moving away from Internet Explorer 6 but there are still a lot of legacy applications that require SEED which no one wants to rewrite.

   The freetards are fast to claim that all this is a total disaster and a testament to the failure of monoculture and certainly at first glance it looks like this is the case. However what are the actual results? There are some problems with getting rid of an outdated browser but it is going away now (22% and going down fast) for sure but what is more important is that South Korea had e-government all these years and laws like this pushed the country into the Internet age. They have one of the highest Internet penetration percentages in the world and what is even more important is that this high penetration made them the best nation in the world at StarCraft. It is hard to be the first but it is worth it.
Tags:   english tech 
Posted by:   Stilgar
13:05 06.06.2011


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