7th Oct, 2008

Korean Websites and ActiveX Controls

Today I am going to tell you a sad story, a very sad story. In South Korea, 94% of households have Interne access, the highest index among the countries in the OECD. Over here 100 Mbps speeds are common (in fact, I have 100 Mbps at home for around $35 per month). However, in this country, there is only one choice when it comes to web browsers: Internet Explorer.

¿The reason? The evil ActiveX controls, enemies of any browser different from the one that comes “imposed” by the Microsoft Windows operating system. Basically, any Korean website involving secure transactions (bank websites, e-shopping, e-government, etc.) requires ActiveX controls. This has specially affected Mozilla Firefox, IE’s main competitor, which has already presented this subject to the Korean Fair Trade Commission.

Sadly, in South Korea, most people just don’t know that there are alternatives to IE. IE’s market share in Korea last month was 98.66%. Mozilla Firefox and the new Google Chrome together hardly reached 1%, Safari had 0.17% and Opera 0.04%:

pie
Source: TechnoKimchi, Logger.co.kr

Just as example, I have bank accounts in four Spanish banks, one american bank, and one Korean bank (not because I have a lot of money, but because I don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket). I can access all my bank accounts online from (almost) any operating system and/or web browser, but the one in Korea. The only account that requires IE (and hence, Microsoft Windows) is the Korean one. And what happens if I try to access this bank account from Firefox in my Ubuntu Linux? This:

wooribank
A little window suggests me (in perfect Korean) to install Windows XP SP2. And we are talking about one of the main banks in South Korea. It’s the same with ALL OF THEM. Sad, isn’t it?

For those who what to know more about this topic, the root of this problem is perfectly explained here (warning: only for freaks).

By the way:

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Responses

Wow! Almost 99% are IE users? In Japan is quite the same, but fortunately they use open standards more frequently, so firefox is still my friend 😛 (specially with that marvelous plugin that “decrypts” the kanjis, I love perapera XD)

Hi~
I am a Korean, and happen to be a Ubuntu user too.
This matter you mentioned is a serious problem, but few people concerns..
Anyway, if you don’t mind, I would like to link this article to my blog (nemonein.egloos.com) although you cannot find any English article in it..

“Sadly, in South Korea, most people just don’t know that there are alternatives to IE.”

It is not that Koreans do not know there is alternatives. Many do, but they are forced to use IE if they want to enjoy any of the services offered online from a simple online purchase to bank transaction. Basically anything that you have to put your credit information, you *must* use IE.

Also, the last warning is not requesting that you “install Windows XP SP2,” but rather saying “if you are using Windows XP SP2, install security program (i.e. ActiveX) by clicking on the warning message”

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