Why South Korea Can’t Quit Internet Explorer

Seoul – In South Korea, one of many world’s most technologically superior international locations, there are few limits to what might be finished simply on-line – except you are utilizing the fallacious internet browser.

On Google Chrome, you can’t make on-line enterprise funds as a company consumer of one of many largest foreign-owned banks within the nation. When you use Apple’s Safari, you won’t be able to use for artwork funding by way of the Nationwide Tradition and Arts web site. And if you’re a toddler care facility proprietor, registering your group with the Ministry of Well being and Social Care web site is just not potential on Mozilla Firefox browser.

In all of those instances, Microsoft Web Explorer, or the same various, is the browser in want.

When Microsoft Flip off Web Explorer, or IE, on June 15, the corporate mentioned it’s going to start redirecting customers to the newer Edge browser within the coming months. Promoting Impressed jokes and memes Commemorating the Web final yr. However in South Korea, IE is just not a web based artifact. The defunct browser remains to be wanted for a small variety of essential banking and authorities duties that not many individuals can stay with out.

South Korea’s loyalty to Web Explorer, 27 years after its introduction and now in retirement, represents a heavy dose of irony: a rustic identified for its broadband and revolutionary gadgets Related to a buggy and insecure piece of software program that many of the world deserted way back.

Most web sites in South Korea run on each browser, together with Google Chrome, which takes up about 54 p.c of the nation’s web use. in response to Statistics counter. Nonetheless, after the announcement from Microsoft, there was a last-minute scramble amongst a few of the key websites to prepare for all times after IE.

The South Korean arm of Customary Chartered Financial institution Company shoppers warned In Could, they might want to begin utilizing the Edge browser in “IE mode” to entry the web banking platform “Straight2Bank”. A number of Korean authorities web sites have instructed customers that some providers are more likely to expertise disruptions if they do not change to Edge.

In Could, Naver, one of many largest Web firms in Korea, highlighted the Whale Browser characteristic that permits entry to websites that require Web Explorer. Kim Hyo, who heads Naver’s Whale crew, mentioned the corporate initially added the choice in 2016. He thought it would not be wanted when Microsoft shuts down IE.

However as the ultimate days approached, Mr. Kim realized that some Korean websites wouldn’t make the change in time, so he saved the characteristic and altered its title to “Web Explorer mode. He mentioned that updating web sites which were catering to IE for many years is a “too large job,” and a few websites “simply missed the deadline.”

South Korea’s reliance on Web Explorer dates again to the Nineteen Nineties, when the nation grew to become a pioneer in utilizing the Web for banking and procuring. As a way to defend on-line transactions, the federal government handed a legislation in 1999 requiring encrypted digital certificates for any matter that beforehand required a signature.

Verifying an individual’s identification requires a further program linked to the browser, referred to as a plug-in. The South Korean authorities has allowed 5 firms to situation such digital certificates utilizing a Microsoft plug-in known as ActiveX. However the plugin solely labored on Web Explorer.

On the time, utilizing a Microsoft plug-in appeared like an apparent choice. Microsoft Home windows software program dominated the PC market within the Nineteen Nineties, and Web Explorer took benefit of this place to change into the dominant browser. For the reason that foremost Korean web sites require IE, different web sites have begun to cater to Microsoft’s browser, thus enhancing its significance. in response to one estimateWeb Explorer captured 99 p.c of the market share in South Korea between 2004 and 2009.

“We have been actually the one recreation on the town,” mentioned James Kim, who led Microsoft in South Korea from 2009 to 2015. Mr. Kim, who now heads the American Chamber of Commerce in Seoul, mentioned Microsoft did not attempt to thwart the competitors, however loads of issues “did not work” with out IE.

Kim Kichang, a legislation professor at Korea College in Seoul, mentioned Web Explorer’s management of South Korea was so full within the early 2000s that the majority South Koreans “could not title one other browser.”

When Professor Kim returned to South Korea in 2002 after instructing overseas, he found he could not do something on-line together with his pc working Linux, a free and open supply various to Home windows and Firefox. Yearly he would go to an web café to entry a pc with IE with the intention to file his taxes on a authorities web site.

In 2007, Professor Kim sued the Korea Institute of Monetary Communications and Clearance, one in every of 5 government-approved non-public firms designated to situation digital certificates. He mentioned the corporate, which issued about 80 p.c of South Korea’s certificates, unfairly discriminated towards him by not permitting different browsers.

Over the course of three years, Professor Kim misplaced the case, misplaced the attraction, and misplaced to the nation’s Supreme Court docket. However his court docket battle drew broader consideration to the issues of the South Korean system, particularly afterwards 2009 cyber assault Use ActiveX to unfold malware on Korean computer systems.

With the appearance of smartphones, an business constructed on software program from Apple and Google, South Korea, like a lot of the world, has begun to cut back its dependence on Microsoft. In 2010, the nation Tips issued Authorities web sites should be appropriate with three totally different internet browsers. However altering the web in South Korea hasn’t been simple — particularly since banks and bank card firms have been sticking with the present system.

As public opinion shifted, customers fearful in regards to the inconvenience of getting to make use of ActiveX to purchase issues on-line. Critics argued that the know-how failed to attain its goal as a result of the extra software program made customers much less safe.

Microsoft launched Edge in 2015 as an alternative choice to Web Explorer, and the corporate mentioned it doesn’t help ActiveX within the new browser. Chrome grew to become the most effective browser within the nation three years in the past.

In 2020, South Korea amended the 1999 legislation to take away the necessity for digital certificates, a transfer that appeared to close the e-book on ActiveX and Web Explorer. That very same yr, Microsoft started eradicating help for IE in a few of its on-line providers. A yr later, the corporate introduced that it plans to retire Web Explorer fully.

Whereas a lot of the world was joking in regards to the demise of Web Explorer, a South Korean engineer marked the event in a extra somber approach.

Jung Ki-young, a 39-year-old software program developer, positioned IE’s tombstone on the roof of his older brother’s cafe in Gyeongju, a metropolis on the southeast coast of South Korea about 170 miles from Seoul. He paid $330 for the memorial, which was engraved with the browser’s distinctive “e” emblem and the inscription: “It was a great software for downloading different browsers.”

Mr. Younger mentioned he had his share of frustrations with Web Explorer, however felt that the browser that launched so many South Koreans to the net deserved a correct farewell.

“Utilizing Web Explorer has been tough and irritating, however it additionally serves a great goal,” Mr. Jung mentioned. “I do not be ok with retiring with the ‘we do not want you anymore’ perspective.”

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