Saturday, January 27, 2007

The problems of a Firefox user in IE Land (S. Korea)

I have been experiencing huge frustration with e-commerce in Korea. S. Korea is the most connected country in the world, yet it is so hard for foreigners to access the information they need.
First, I read a great article today that tells the history of the problem for non-Internet Explorer users. Basically, back in 1998, the S. Korean government passed a law mandating all e-commerce sites to use a technology that is only supported by Internet Explorer.

I am a proud Firefox user and have been since version 0.5. I have a copy of Internet Explorer that I use when necessary, which brings me to another issue.

Even with Internet Explorer, half of the websites don't allow e-commerce transactions after a certain time! This blows my mind. What is the purpose of having a website if it is only accessible during business hours? I've found this to be especially troublesome with the government sites. I recently went to apply for a re-entry visa (I'm taking a short trip out of Korea). I had to register with the site, but then when to apply for the visa and then a message popped up that said it only worked during business hours.

On top of all of that, if I load up my Internet Explorer, and am on during business hours, I still have to face the ridiculous security measures. My American bank requires me to input a username. Then, a second screen pops up to I can insure its not a phishing site. I put my password in and I'm good to go. Not true with a Korean bank. Here, the site forces me to download an encrypted security certificate and install their own firewall and anti-spyware programs. Then, every time I visit the site, these programs have to load and then update themselves. It is really ridiculous. Sometimes, I end up leaving the apartment and walking to the nearest bank to avoid the hassle.

I thought the internet was supposed to make things easier.

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