Lemmings on ActiveX

A ZDNet Korea article written in Korean talks about the dire situation of the World Wide Web in South Korea. As the rest of the world moves to open standards for the Web, too many web sites in the country have stubbornly clung to a Microsoft-centric Internet environment, where they use extensions that exist only in Internet Explorer such as ActiveX.

And ActiveX is a very poorly thought out architecture for web extensions that encourages extremely reckless behavior by ordinary users. With almost every other web site requiring ActiveX, Korean users have been trained to always click in the affirmative for any dialog boxes. This is a recipe for disaster, where it becomes too easy to infect a MS Windows computer with malicious ActiveX components. This is truly ironic, since the South Korean government pretty much mandates the use of ActiveX to supposedly provide encryption for financial web sites. A law intended to improve computer security is responsible for drastically weakening it.

Even Microsoft recognizes the problems with ActiveX and proprietary extensions. The release of MS Windows Vista caused a stir in South Korea last year since a lot of the Korean web sites would not work properly in Internet Explorer 7. And it's going to be even worse when Internet Explorer 8 is released. But instead of encouraging web sites to follow open standards, the government is begging Microsoft to maintain backwards compatibility with bad architectures.

The World Wide Web isn't the only area where South Korea is isolated from the rest of the world. South Korea is one of the few countries which uses CDMA instead of GSM for their cellular phone network, but at least there are other countries that also use the standard. Even worse are things like WIPI, a software standard for mobile phones that the South Korean government requires to be followed. WIPI is only used in South Korea, so mobile phone makers in South Korea are handicapped when developing phones for the international market.