Technology and Internet in Korea

Chris helped write this post – I know some of you say you never hear from him.

Korean computer tech equal parts amazingly advanced and ridiculously outdated.

On one hand, Korea prides itself on having some of the best WiFi in the world. The internet here is the fastest in the world and has been for at least 3 years running, probably longer. It’s so fast that the next fastest country, Japan, is 40% slower than Korea. That’s like light-speed speed. (The United States barely makes it onto the list of top ten.)

But Korea has an unhealthy relationship with sub-par technology. They have amazing phones, don’t get us wrong. They have phones that can work after being underwater, phones that sync with your watch and a new phone (and TV) that you can roll up almost like a treasure map. But you get them a desktop computer or a “notebook” (laptop) and they forget how to be technologically advanced. Some people don’t know what PDFs are or how to copy and paste things. The worst for us is that they demand to use internet explorer. Which is an extremely mediocre web explorer. Safari, Chrome, Firefox and just about any other web explorer works better than IE. IE requires you to download things while Chrome does it automatically for you – Chrome even has a built in task manager (like control-alt-delete)… but I digress. Korea doesn’t use these amazing programs.  Korea’s internet is a great marathon runner but internet explorer is the malaria that infects it to the point it never even runs races.

Then they have programs for everything. You can’t use the video players your computer already has on it, you have to use a Korean one. If you want to watch a soccer game you can’t just do it on the website, you  have to download a new video player Afreeka (complete with viruses, games and toolbars that are all scams). If you want to watch a movie you have to download a whole new player like VLC or Gom. Also if you want to write a paper (like a word document) you’re probably going to  have to use the Korean program that is totally incompatible with word or pages. (for the nerds out there, YES there is a patch that you can download that lets .hwp files be opened and edited on word, but it crashes word…..and it will not uninstall). It’s ridiculous.

And then the virus protection. We’re on school networks so there is a huge concern for keeping our network safe – theoretically if a virus got on one computer it could take the whole network down. Sooo do we use any decent program? No, we use one of the homegrown ones – one that are only used in Korea as opposed to the world wide ones that have been tested the world over. And it works about as well as shoving an oreo cookie in to the disk drive would work to protect against viruses. A huge fat zero – it doesn’t work. It actually is a virus itself. It’s called Ahnlab.

Chris is having the most problems with it so we’ll discuss what it does to his computer. Most things freeze his computer so he can’t get any work done in any decent amount of time. If it doesn’t freeze the computer, it takes about 30 seconds to open something. Anything. Which sounds like a whiny thing to say until you try it. He tried to make a folder the other day and it actually took 45 seconds, not to mention it froze his computer. His co-teacher was waiting for a document to open on his computer and got mad at him. She said it was because he saved documents on the computer. “Just save all your documents on a USB. That’s what I do. You’re just ruining your computer by saving things on it.” That’s what computers are for. Fun fact, saving a normal amount of things on your computer will not slow it down, RUNNING many different things at the same time will.

He looked and Ahnlab was using a ridiculously high amount of processing power. The absolute worst thing is that it automatically scans your ENTIRE system every hour. You can change this setting, but it is set to reset to the default after….one hour. You cannot turn off the reset feature. Also, the system scan takes about an hour, so basically his computer is perpetually scanning itself 24/7″.

In a fit of rage he uninstalled Ahnlab and deleted it off his computer completely. Suddenly it was working at lightning speeds. Instantly.

But the next morning he opens his computer and turns it on. It had re-installed itself and was scanning his computer for viruses – thus freezing the computer. It has never actually finished scanning (ever) because it freezes itself (it takes too long).

People (other Ahnlab sufferers online) are suggesting that the school network is automatically set to re-install it. Others say that it re-installs itself because of it’s virus-like tendencies; that it copies itself and wont let you get rid of it. Anytime you can’t get something off of your computer you have big red flags.

The biggest problem is that it is both a virus AND a virus blocker. So it’s at war with itself always. Which explains why his computer is completely shot. Chris described it as “a guard snake (already that sounds like a feeble home security) that constantly eats its own tail.”  It isolates itself from the computer to protect the computer from a virus but then it needs to operate to block itself.

Koreans will blindly defend this program – not to mention we HAVE to use it if we want to use the school’s computers. I’ve actually had to sign documents that say I’m using it and being safe online.

So sometimes you might hear about cyber attacks on Korea (sometimes by North Koreans). Banks get hacked ALL the time. To access your bank account on the internet, you need to download 4 different security programs (all made in Korea). This is not an exaggeration. They are each designed to protect against different attacks. Here is the best analogy of this that I can think of…. There are many things you can choose to do to protect your car from thieves, some make sense, and others don’t. For example, you can lock the doors, keep it in your garage at night, or get a GPS tracker. If you wanted to, you could also take the tires off and remove the engine every time you park it. Korean cyber security is like doing all of the above, but giving the keys, the engine, and the tires to a thief. You end up with a junk computer that can’t do anything at any respectable speed, plus the added bonus of a false sense of security.

Viruses take down everyone constantly. It’s all thanks to obsolete web browsers mixed with a bad virus protection. Also just because we have the fastest internet here doesn’t mean we know what to do with it. I would hazard to say that because of how many redundant security programs people are required to install, the internet NEEDS to be the fastest in the world to keep everyone happy. Anything less and people might realize how terrible their security programs are for their computers. The internet here sounds awesome but I have yet to see the true power of its speed.


2 thoughts on “Technology and Internet in Korea”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s