Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Korea Times Article

Here's an article from The Korea Times that touches on hiccups in the world of Korea with regards to site access for foreigners.  Found it dead on.

Expats Want Easier Access to Services

From: The Korea Times | Jan. 24, 2010
By: Kim Jae-won | Staff Reporter

Korea has an ambitious vision to become a globalized country as an IT power house and Asia's financial hub but it seems that it has a long way to go as "hidden" discrimination against foreign residents still exists in their daily lives.

More than 1.1 million foreigners are living here, but many of them cannot access various everyday services due to Korean-focused IT systems and language barriers.

A European ambassador, who declined to identify himself, said he often feels frustrated when he shops online.

"I tried to make reservations for the movie 'Avatar' last weekend. But I couldn't make them because I don't have a resident registration number or social security number. We have a foreigners' number, but it is nothing. It doesn't work at all," he told The Korea Times.

"There is another example. I tried to buy a Hi-Pass gadget on the Web site, but I couldn't because of the ID problem."

Hi-Pass is an automatic paying system on Korea's highways. If you charge the electronic gadget, you don't need to wait at the toll gate as the sensor checks it by itself.

Their frustration is not limited to the online world. They also suffer in the real world.

Joanna Encabo, 33, a Filipino who has lived here since 2004, still has a problem with banking due to a language barrier. Whenever she visits a bank, a Korean friend accompanies her for interpretation.

"Without the help of a Korean friend, it is still hard for foreigners to do banking. Recently, I got a credit card from a bank. But I think it would have been much more difficult if my friend had not helped me," the 33-year-old Quezon City native told The Korea Times.

Encabo is just one of the many foreign students and workers struggling with the banking system. Despite local lender's efforts to beef up expat banking services, most foreigners have little access to banking services due to language barriers and heavy-handed rules.

In a survey conducted by the YMCA from November to December, the association found that 72 percent, or 58 students, of the total 81 respondents had trouble using financial services here.

Listening to Discovery Orange Shirt.

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