Why You Can’t Rely on Google Maps in South Korea
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is fighting South Korea’s unique Internet rules in an attempt to provide travelers with more accurate Google Maps directions around the country and increase its search share in one of the only countries in the world where Google is not the dominant search engine, The New York Times reports.
While South Korea is one of the most connected countries in the world, boasting Internet speeds that most Americans can only dream about, the country also has some bizarre laws related to Internet use. Even though South Korea is a democracy with a fast-growing digital economy, children aren’t allowed to play Internet games at night, people are required to use their real names when leaving comments online, and pornography is illegal.
For now, Google Maps is only allowed to give directions using public transit in South Korea. Google says that the map restrictions go back to the Korean War and have been kept in place to prevent North Korea from obtaining map data. But now, the restrictions also prevent people from using mapping technology that they’ve come to depend on in most other places around the world.
President Park Geun-hye has been working to ease up on some of the regulations, which have been heavily complained about by foreign Internet companies and civil liberties groups, the Times reports. In September, the government promised to allow the creation of an English-language digital map, but it can only be used by companies based in South Korea.