Earlier today, we were talking about a TL;DR topic in the car about some common misconceptions about Korea, which we thought would make for a cool video. The last idea that we thought of for that video was about the awesomeness of Korea’s internet. We talked about it for such a long time that we realized, hey, we’ve been talking about this long enough for a full TL;DR, so why not do it as its own video?

So, here we are, and I hope that we’re clear with how we feel about Korean internet. Yes, we love it in many, many ways, and I’ll still pick it over the internet in any other country in the world, except for – maybe – Japan, which we’ve experienced as delightfully fast and not as hindered – but that was only from the perspective as tourists. I’m not sure if Japan’s internet has as many security flaws as Korea’s. Anyhow, even though this video talks about the negatives of Korea’s internet, we simply offer that as a counterbalance to the perception that Korea’s internet is glorious. It’s great in many ways, and flawed in many ways as well.

Another thing we find really interesting: I have no idea how the Korean news is reacting to Korea’s security breaches. Didn’t Target in the US recently get its customer data compromised? Didn’t everyone in the news loooooose their miiiinds? How would they react to a bank losing half of the country’s info, or for a major telecom to have its data compromised as well? I’m not sure. Just asking. Another thing: is it that Korea’s security just sucks, or is it that Korea’s hackers just have crazy mad hacking skills, and if they went to, say, Canada, they’d be living like kings from all the hacking they can do? Anyone in the IT field have any insight into this? Oh, and for the record, we weren’t joking about that letter we showed you. All of our info was leaked from KT. Great…

Some of you might be wondering why porn is banned here in Korea. From what we’ve heard, there was supposedly a horrific murder case in Korea, and they found porn on the murderer’s computer. So, the conclusion was that watching porn makes you bad. Is that how it was? I’m not sure, but if that’s the case, I’m sure they found kimchi in his fridge as well, but I’m still waiting on the kimchi ban to be suggested.

One thing we didn’t talk about for Korean internet practices: Hangul Word Press. Hangul Freaking Word Press! Oh God, how I hate hwp files! If you don’t know what it is, it’s basically Microsoft Word, but for Korea. It’s its own software, and, instead of exporting .pdfs or .doc files, it exports .hwp files, and the only freaking thing that can open .hwp files is Hangul Word Press. BUUUUT you can’t install it on Mac, and you can’t install it if you don’t know Korean enough. You might think, oh no big deal: it’s made for Koreans in Korea. Fine. I’m ok with that. What I’m not ok with is government websites aimed for foreigners, that put Visa application forms, or different tourism documents, in hwp format! Come on! If you’re making it for foreigners, make it a PDF! YYEEAERGGGHHH!

**Edit** I was just sent an email from a friend who said there’s an app to view hwp files on the Mac. I never used it yet, but it exists

Another small issue we have is this: we’d love to hire a web developer. Our site is very dynamic, and we’re constantly adding a bunch of different things to it, tweaking it here and there. Our web developer is totally awesome, but he lives in the US. We thought, hey, let’s get a web developer here in Korea. Should be easy enough, right? There are lots of programmers here. Lots! Just…none of them can code for WordPress. It’s just not common enough here. No one has enough experience (or, we just can’t find them!).

There are lots of people who blog in Korea, but a big portion of those blogs are on Naver or Daum. Self-hosting your blog isn’t that common, because free services are available on really popular platforms. So why host your own blog? For us, stuff like our KpopCharts and KpopAwards, and other functionality we’re building in right now, requires a lot of customization, which publicly hosted blogs don’t really offer. I’ll stop nerd-talking here: point is, we couldn’t find a web developer here in Korea.

Anyhow, that’s it for our talk on Korea’s internet scene here. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. If you’re Korean here in Korea, are you finding issues with the internet here as well or is it great for you? How about those real name verification laws, eh? And if you’re outside of Korea, what’s your internet situation like? We’d love to compare notes :D

Other than that, make sure you click on this button below, right here. It makes your internets faster!

  1. I live in New York City but go to school in boston where there is free wifi on campus. For New york, most of the time the internet is fast but when the weather is bad, it can be tempermental and literally the satellite signal for the company that provides internet can be completely out. For example in 2003, new york city experienced a huge black out and the internet was not working for weeks. For Boston, the internet is definitely more consistent because it’s a lot more high tech and bad weather causing internet shortages is not a problem.When I was in China, using the internet to look at international websites like youtube was impossible but using the internet in Japan was so easy.I think for the internet, it depends who the internet providers are catering towards and what restrictions the government has placed on the internet in whatever country a person happens to be in.

  2. My coworker told me about this few days ago. Funny how people are not going crazy over it. In US, when govt introduced a bill to censor stuff (SOPA/PIPA) and entire internet blew up. It never passed.

    And now, corporations are threatening free and open internet… Funny how things work here in America. It’s not the govt but corporations that does what governments do in other countries.

  3. In Russia, we don’t need to look for porn – it’s right there for us on every single website (well, almost). Whenever I go on to a Russian website, say, to read an article or to find lyrics to a song or something like that, those steamy ads are ALL OVER the thing. So whenever I’m browsing, I’m just doing it from my mac and using an adblock, which usually hides all that stuff. It’s funny because one time I referred my American teacher to a website with actual decent information on it, and then the next day he comes up to me and goes, “Did you refer me to a porn site?!” (and he looked at it at the school, too).

  4. I don’t know if it would work for google chrome in SKorea, but I use the Hola Better Internet app… It unblocks websites for me here in the US. For instance- I can watch full episodes on BBC1, the actual British version. I can also load the Canadian or UK Netflix databases, and switch back and forth between them (they have different programming available). Anyways, maybe that would work to get around blocked stuff?

    P/S the internet in US is super slow for the price we pay :(

  5. True story. In the US. My boss’s nephew was visiting from Korea recently, and he had to borrow my PC to register for all of his classes because his household only owned Macs. Victory for PC’s!

  6. Just had to share this: “H. Jon Benjamin (“Bob’s Burgers,” “Archer”) stars in this exclusive animated adaptation of the famed McSweeney’s Internet Tendency piece, “In Which I Fix My Girlfriend’s Grandparents’ WiFi and Am Hailed as a Conquering Hero,” by Mike Lacher. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21OwTUEiGGM

  7. The Department of Revenue for the great state that I live in was hacked. Everyone who had filed taxes in the past 3 or so years got sent letters letting them know that all their personal information was compromised. They also gave us all a free year of identity theft protection software.

  8. I’m not sure if this is the best place to ask this, but could you guys make a video talking about your favorite trot songs? I really like trot songs (they’re so fun!), but I’m not sure where to look for really good ones. Thanks!

  9. when you first came to Korea was it different from how you thought it would be?

  10. The Censorship thing is just sad to me. I looked up censorship in South Korea, and according to wikipedia (which, let’s be honest, might totally be wrong), it says that it deletes blog posts that criticize the president and just completely shuts down websites that are anti-conscription and LGBT related.

    It’s probably because I’m American, but I just cannot understand why you would censor those things. Just because people talk about it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Seriously, if American Politics teaches you anything, it’s that people just like blowing smoke up your ass and talking some major booty chatter. Man, that’s just some North Korea stuff right there. If the people of North Korea could get on the internet. Or had computers. Or electricity.

  11. There actually was an era when Japanese cultural-everything had to be “illegally” imported and translated because it was banned. The days! But that ended over a decade ago, so FF won’t be banned just because it’s Japanese. FF 14 is simply not serviced in Korea.

  12. Korea may have super fast internet speed (my country ties with Japan according to netindex.com ) but all that restrictions and blocking are just ridiculous. I could never deal with Youtube taking forever to load. If only Korea wasn’t so strict on their citizens. If a kid wants to play games past midnight, let them do it! There’d be a massive outrage if that happened here. The only sites I can think of that are blocked here in Sweden are child pornography sites (as they should be) and hate websites that promote death to certain people, i.e. the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s actually not blocked but geez…

  13. lol, i was going to say that you’re exaggerating about the internet in Canada until i just tried to load a 6 second video on tumblr that took 5 min to play properly… damn it. (mind you, it IS the tumblr video player after all..)

  14. Guys can you please talk about what happened to Leeteuk. Is it truth that his father killed himself and his grandparents??? I heard some stories but I’m not sure if they are real. Please explain ! !

  15. Could you reply and tell me more about the VPN that Simon was singing about? Like, what is it? What does it do?

  16. The Cinderella law only applies to internet gaming.
    You might be right about it being Japanese, BUT, using C&M I have no problems connecting to it… so I really doubt that is the problem. Though I know KT has the login IP blocked, all you have to do is bypass the login IP and it is accessible.

  17. Moving to Australia in July. Can’t wait.

  18. Finally this year, NH Bank in Korea made their online banking website for foreigners compatible for Google Chrome. For the longest time, I had to use IE just for online banking.

  19. Forgot about online shopping! Ugh… When I lived in Korea, my friends and I ordered things off qng.co.kr
    Made an account, paid with a debit card, got a confirmation e-mail…. and then my stuff wouldn’t arrive.
    Turns out, because we’re foreigners, we can’t use a debit card, has to be a direct bank transfer.

    And of course all this information is on some obscure page under customer forums, all in Korean.
    The same process would repeat every time we ordered something. -______-;;;;

    Also, anyone else bothered by all the MOVING THUMBNAILS on Korean sites? (especially when shopping)

  20. Oh man, I keep hearing more and more about this. Today I guess they went and systematically attempted to block Youtube to prevent the spread of the corruption recordings. Though it seemed it was still taking the ISPs time to ban the site, so obviously everyone could still connect, and by now there are probably enough people who know how to use a VPN client.

    • Yeah they blocked youtube today. There are a lot people who knows how to use a VPN, people just cant leave their habits. I still can connect to youtube. So there is no major blocking i think. I hope it all ends this sunday when the elections are over, its a mess here right now, they are even closing the major tv channels.

  21. Ban on porn… This makes sense now: Frozen Flower, Changing Partners, 5 Senses of Eros. They’re all soft porn.

  22. Well at least it sounds like Simon has the ol’ VPN Client functioning. There are even utilities like Hola for Chrome and Firefox these days that can quick switch the country of origin directly from your browser to be able to surf as if you were from that country (which is especially useful for Netflix which offers different content per country).

    On topic of ActiveX, I want to say it was defunct at least a decade ago, due to it being the most compromised aspect of _anything_ on the internet. By now even the hacking utilities themselves (in use by those with illicit intentions) are probably antiquated. However, the usage of which pretty much falls directly into the hands of the web developers themselves when it comes to things like online shopping and banking. Something tells me ActiveX is still in use in Korea because most of those online institutions have not yet licensed modern protocols. And I hate to sound like an a-hole, but it’s the one thing they really can’t just copy/pirate and reuse.

    With regards to google maps, I imagine there is still some holdup when it comes to all that pertinent data because of the litigation surrounding the so-called information gathering Google did. The Korean government wants Google to delete that information they gathered now! Grrr!

  23. is world of warcraft blocked in South Korea?

  24. A few days ago Twitter was blocked here in Turkey and now Youtube is blocked too (ahem, vpnindahouse). It’s because of some stuff going on with the government, but blocking the sites don’t really work here, at least among the younger generation. But putting these aside, Twitter and Youtube aren’t the only sites blocked. There are many, I believe, including porn. Our internet is not very fast either, and kinda pricy. I personally pay around 30 bucks for an 8mbit connection and it usually drops to 2mbit at the end of the month because of something called Fair Usage Quota. Other than this, online banking and shopping is fairly easy and quick; although some shopping sites ask for id numbers, there are lots that don’t require it. I have a question for Simon; do you use Steam over there? Or rather, can you? Because we mostly use Steam here for buying online games and stuff and I got curious. Thanks for the video guys.

  25. One thing I noticed about Korean internet is the blatant amount of women’s bodies displayed on Korean news or shopping sites. It’s like bc porn is blocked, people are trying to get around that by posting ads with boobies and butts on the sidebars of websites. No other country does that, especially with their news sites. It’s freaking disgusting.

  26. in Denmark there are restrictions on how many movies you can watch on Netflix or viki. But you can download a program that removes these blockage. Now my computer works like it was in US.

  27. I remember trying to help set up my grandmother’s voice mail but she had a very very very old phone. It was so old I didn’t know how to set it up for her.

  28. Korean programmers are quite bad I guess, when talking about game development that is. Majority of Korean game developers are talented but I guess in the work life they are really stubborn. There’s the hierarchy in Korea, but if compared to Japan….it’s the same. Look at Japan’s games, amazing. Not to mention there are quite a few Korean programmers and artists working in Japan for development of games, figurines and anime. Not sure whether they’re working there because of money or job opportunity but I’m guessing both (And it’s so near to their country too).

    I’m not saying that the Koreans can’t make great games though, there are many great MMORPGs by them like Aion, Blade & Soul, Ragnarok, etc. But they need to step up their game in terms of creativity and game coding, they’re lacking so much in these areas. Ton of bugs, re-used animations, boring storyline, lack of DLC content and more.

    And speaking about internet speeds, personally I have went to both Japan and Korea many times in these past few years and both countries’ internet speeds are really fast. I experienced the slow YouTube loading in Korea too, thought that it’s a slight problem with the network but looks like it isn’t. Japan would be more flexible if you’re talking about Active X and Hangul Word Press thingy though. As far as I know, Japan doesn’t need these kind of programs to do online banking/shopping. If you peeps have noticed the Japanese are using Macs a lot too. And it’s not just recently but it happened quite a while already.

  29. Just want to ask, do you suffer from rubbish internet speeds when you upload your videos to Youtube? Or do you have an alternative to get past that

  30. Internet in Germany is… let’s just say – also not as free as people expect it to be. The Youtube/Gema issue that a lot of videos are blocked is pretty well known, and very annoying. Thus, people are using VPN programs like Cyberghost (or Chrome extensions like proxtube).
    Oh, there are also barely any free wifi hotspots anywhere. People have to pay to use wifi in cities/at airports.

    When it comes to internet speed, things are pretty strange. Big cities have a large coverage of DSL 16K or 50K (or more). Rural areas have different internet speed ranging from ISDN (jup, not joking) to 50K or more. I live in a small village (~600 inhabitants) and we have DSL 16K, we will get 50K in April, and 300K in 2015. The next village (which is 3 km away) still has the same DSL speed as in 2002 which means like maximum 2K with no prospective improvement at the moment (which makes people rightfully furious)… Ridiculous.
    Prices for your internet connection range from 20€/month (limited traffic) to 50€/month (unlimited – best choice IMO).

  31. in america home internet speeds are all about how much you’re willing to pay for it and what’s available in your area. i have time warner cable and we pay $80 for internet that is pretty much as fast as you describe in internet in korea being. it’s about the fastest internet available and most other serivces dont even come close. my parents live in a rural area and every time we visit i insist that their internet is broken b/c it is sooooo slow.

  32. Internet in Canada has been slowly getting better, but is quickly rising in cost. Though it is possible to get something above average and affordable, you’ll have to fight tooth and nail for it. My download times run about 10 minutes max for movies and games, and I hardly ever have Youtube buffering on me anymore. I honestly had no idea to what extent Korean internet was restricted… I’ll start counting my blessings I think haha

    Also: Loving your new looks :3 and I just have a certain place in my heart for all things rockabilly. V is for Victory Rolls!

  33. Sorry if this is too geeky, but if you download Virtual Box from Oracle (free) you can run that Active X Windows 95 junk inside your Mac or modern Windows PC just like an app.

    Modern PCs normally have a processor feature called “Virtualization” (Intel VT-x) turned on in the bios. When using Virtual Box you have no real slow down whatsoever running an old Windows inside another operating system.

    Too geeky or useful?

    For network speeds, my net is so broken I get 1Mb/s from my ADSL. BUT I also have DC-HSDPA on my phone and that gives me 25Mb/s. So basically through my phone I get 25 times the speed of my wired connection.

    I’m sure someone is going to tell me up is down and down is up because it sure as heck feels like it. Why can my phone beat my wire?!?!?

  34. I live in semi-rural Japan (no Akihabara toys here) and my internet has never blocked me from anything other than America-only services (Pandora, it has been YEARS. Get on that!) so I suppose the only downside is that the speed is mediocre… when I am plugged in to the ethernet.

    When I’m not plugged in, I have no internet access.

    All I can do is laugh when people talk about the wonders of Japanese internet… I couldn’t even get free wi-fi in Starbucks until a few months ago.

  35. Arrh. I couldn’t help shaking my head. All of this is so stupid! Way to embrace globalisation, Korea!
    The problem with registration forms also happened to me in Japan and it was so frustrating. It just hasn’t dawned on them that not everyone in their country is Korean or just basically doing the things they should be doing in a perfect world but which they don’t do because this is reality.
    DRAMAS ARE BLOCKED?? Wait. I am currently re-mapping of all of my future with this new information…

    Internet in Malaysia is good, but slow as hell. I often use my phone rather than my laptop for
    something because 3G is actually quicker. It takes ages for videos and
    livestreams to launch. Not to mention a lot of videos are unavailable.
    Japan’s was faster but EXPENSIVE and a lot of stuff was copyrighted.
    It’s much better in France, to be honest. I have no complains about my home country.

    Question. Martina, how do you watch your dramas? On TV, with no subtitles?
    Question 2. What’s VPN??? If you can’t tell I’m not the most technology-savvy 22 year old out there.

  36. Interesting video on the internet in SK, but you raised my curiosity when you talked about registration numbers. I’m assuming these are like US social security numbers, but it seems like you use them for more things. I was watching this drama the other day where this girl was getting married to a guy her mother didn’t like and her mother asked for her fiancé and his parents registration numbers and I made a o.O face. In the US, if a stranger asks for your SSN, we usually run the other way, but it seemed like a totally normal thing to this girl. Just wondering if you could shed some more light on Korean registration numbers. Thanks.

  37. Working for a university, it makes me ultra sad that the generation of kids that are starting their studies don’t even know basic internet skills- pop-up blockers, clearing the cache, hell- even bloody knowing what browser they are using! They were practically raised on computers, and most likely never knew what dial-up was!
    *cries in corner*

    And yes, Australian internet sucks. I live there and wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Doesn’t help that our current Prime Minister is more concerned with bringing back Knight and Dame titles than the issue that the copper wires used for our internets are deteriorating. :-/

  38. Oh gosh! This makes my mind confuzzled! How can Korea be so advanced in some things and so basic in other things!!?!?!?!?!!?!?!

  39. Internet in Australia is horrendously slow. It’s actually painful.

  40. I live in the US. My hometown is an hour outside NYC and is basically a
    suburb of NYC, given the number of commuters in to the city. At home, I
    have pretty great internet, apart from a room above the garage that the
    router has trouble reaching. However, I got to school in a more rural
    part of my state. a giant school. THE state school. the intet provided
    on campus, annoyiing to set up, but remarkably reliable. I live in an
    apartment, literally so close to campus, it should be called off campus.
    I am next to a dorm building and across the street from a class
    building.That nice strong internet? Can’t connect to it at all. My
    building has free wifi and I use my own router, but it conks out alot or
    gets really slow. IT gets hard to watch youtube without constant
    buffers. it’s usually ok, but I have noticed a suspicious trend. During
    the day when people are out at work or class, the internet is fairly
    reliable. in the evenings, it gets a bit spotty, by 11 it’s no use. I
    suspect PORN. Who wouldn’t? There are a large number of frat bros and
    sorority hos in my building (they clearly missed the 24 hour quiet hours
    part of the lease. or the no smoking inside (youd think people would
    think to extend this to weed), and the reminders to be respectful (THE
    IN FACT UPSTAIRS)). I’m not saying all people in greek life are like
    this, just the disrespectful assholes who live in my building.Anyways,
    these people are probably just finishing their homework or their 12th
    beer or their preppy sports activities, and want to “blow off a little
    steam”. Sounds right to me.

    In Japan, I didn’t have the most
    fantastic internet. I was there for a month in the summer and I was
    using the hotel’s internet through ethernet and wireless. It wasn’t
    super. IT really was average and kind of slow, but there were probably
    alot of guests eating up the bandwidth.I was also in a slightly older
    area in tokyo that was not really a tourist trap (though it was charming
    in its own way :D)

    How does the Spudgey feel about activeX? Does Meemers worry about the security of his many bank accounts and his cell phone provider? Or do they both just want treats and rubs?

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