At the end of the 1990s, Korea developed its own encryption technology, SEED, with the aim of securing e-commerce. Users must supply a digital certificate, protected by a personal password, for any online transaction in order to prove their identity. For Web sites to be able to verify the certificates, the technology requires users to install a Microsoft ActiveX plug-in.
But mandating the technology had a host of side effects that, according to Kim, the FSS either largely ignored or didn’t predict. It forced consumers to use Internet Explorer because it was the only browser ActiveX plug-ins were compatible with. By default, Web developers optimized not only banking and shopping Web sites for Internet Explorer, but all Web sites. For developers, this just seemed logical.
The result has been a decade-long monopoly in the Korean market, where virtually all Korean Web sites are optimized for Internet Explorer.