For Korea, IE6 Proves a Hard Habit to Break

One thing that’s always fascinated me about Korea is how it mixes the dizzyingly advanced with the oddly archaic. Fortune telling tents right outside high-tech electronics stores, say. Or world-topping science scores side-by-side with, erm, unconventional scientific beliefs.

The internet, too, demonstrates this peculiar dichotomy. For example, Korea — a country with world-beating internet speeds — still clings stubbornly to the accursed ActiveX, the bane of foreign individuals and companies trying to use online payment or banking services in Korea.

Yesterday, I saw another indication of Korea’s dual character in this regard: The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown, a website charting Microsoft’s quest to rid the world of its now 10-year-old browser:

As you can see, most of the world has a usage rate of well under 10 percent, with the glaring exceptions of India (11.2 percent), China (34.6 percent) and Korea, where fully 23.5 percent of internet users persist with this creaking behemoth.

Why? A key reason is ActiveX, which despite concerted efforts from some industry groups remains embedded in almost all Korean sites that require online payment. Even whizzy international sites, such as Korean Air’s, require the installation of ActiveX to work fully.

ActiveX, of course, is also tied to IE, which is still used by well over 90 percent of Korean netizens. As Victor Ching explained in a post over at Seoul Space, Koreans generally are not in the habit of switching browsers, and Chrome and Firefox remain largely unknown and unused here. Though things have clearly improved since Victor’s post last year, MS’s battle with its own outdated browser has a ways to run in Korea yet.

HT to Nando for the link.

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