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Chosun Ilbo probes foreigners' complaints about K's internet

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Joined: 21 Jan 2007
Location: Gangnam

PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:48 pm    Post subject: Chosun Ilbo probes foreigners' complaints about K's internet Reply with quote

The Chosun Ilbo's English version of their newspaper is remarkably uninteresting. Here are two articles, on the same niche topic, published by the Chosun Ilbo less than 24 hours apart.

1. English version of the article (all details and first hand accounts/interviews deleted...copy of a copy of a copy, flatly ersatz)
2. Korean version. Here's the translation by Koreabeat.

31-year-old Mario Schloesser, a German citizen who has spent 19 months in Korea working for a foreign bank, is a big movie fan. On the 15th he went on the internet to reserve tickets for the popular movie Avatar. He went to the movie reservations site and clicked the icon on the top of the screen reading "Tickets". He chose the theater location, film (Avatar in digital 3D), date and screening time, then received a message telling him to "log in". When he clicked the button on the right-hand side of the screen reading "Join" he was confronted by a slew of explanations in language difficult for even Koreans to understand. Mr. Schloesser chose "Accept" and clicked the button reading "Foreign User Registration".

The site's information for foreigners was mostly written in hangul. After entering his ID, password, address, and alien registration card number, Mr. Schloesser paused at birthday. "Solar calendar? Lunar calendar? What is this?" After entering his e-mail he thought everything was finished, but his expression turned dark again.

"Fax? I'm not done yet?"

A sesame seed-like sentence had appeared. "After entering the missing information and completing the application please send by fax one of an identification card issued by proper authorities, driver's license, passport, or alien registration. After such paperwork is confirmed your registration will be approved."

Mr. Schloesser said: "I wonder how many more hoops I will have to jump through," and gave up trying to make the reservation. He added, "I don't understand why I should send a fax containing sensitive personal information for anyone to see... It seems that ever-busy Korea forgot to take account of foreign customers."

With the world's fastest internet and online shopping that knocks down buildings, and a blog and homepage for everyone... The Republic of Korea is known as an "internet heaven", but one that can only be used by Koreans. For foreigners it is pie in the sky -- out of reach. One foreign embassy worker in Korea saaid, "it is impossible to make concert reservations using a foreign credit card... It was also not possible to use my foreign registration number."

Complaints from foreigners that it is difficult for them to use the Korean internet have been heard for many years, but no solution has ever been implemented. Last November the government created a website (ifriendly) but it contained little information and was so inaccurate as to be laughable.

25-year-old American Trevor Townsend, who has been living in Dongjak-gu in Seoul since entering the country as an English instructor in July, grew angry after trying to buy an iPod from a major onlne retailer on the 16th. He said, "my co-workers told me how inconvenient it is not to be able to shop online, but I didn't really undeerstand until now."

Mr. Townsend used the English-language section of the onine retailer. Titles such as "Apparel and Accessories" and "Electronics" appeared in English along with prices in dollars. But that was it. The names and descriptions of items were in Korean. When he searched for iPod Touch and chose free delivery the price ranged from $100-300. One option offered "a third-generation iPod Touch 8G + urethane case + protective film + free gifts/fast shipping!" the sentences he could understand said the price was W299,000 ($266). The names of over 10 accessories such as speakers and battery packs were in Korean.

When it came time to check out he had to register. He entered his name, ID, e-mail address, and 13-digit alien registration card number. But a message appeared saying the applicaion was incomplete. Mr. Townsend said, "I was properly issued an alien registration card good for one year but I'm being treated like an illegal immigrant... When you buy something, I don't know, this just makes me angry... This stinks." He spent 30 minutes on the site before putting down his laptop. He went instead to the Yongsan electronics market.

21-year-old Vishnyakan Alexandra, a Russian student at Konkuk University, said, "most sites only let you input a Korean name... There's no way to put in a name like mine.' She added, "there are a lot of international students who use the convenient method of doing a 'thief registration' by using the name of a Korean friend."

When 28-year-old Shiwat Surakitbuvun, who is Thai, began his master's degree at a domestic university in 2003 he was insulted when he used the university website. When he attempted to register on the site he was absolutely required to enter his alien registration card number, domestic phone number, and credit card number. At the time Mr. Surakitbuvun was in Thailand and could not produce such things. He sent e-mails to the site administrator and the school and completed the process of proving his identity. Three days later he was registered on the site, but there had been many errors with his credit card. Mr. Surakitbuvun said, "what should have taken 30 minutes wound up taking three days... it would have been faster to do by international mail."
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