When the World Wide Web first began to be widely used in the mid to late 90's, there were still relatively few Web sites and private Web page owners as well as company's and government operators paid little attention to the URL. Chances are the name you wanted wasn't taken yet either by other similarly-named organizations or "Internet squatters" looking to make a buck off a name.
With the Internet becoming more crowded, companies, organizations and even individuals began to compete fiercely for unique domain names and URLs. As more non-native speakers of English began using the World Wide Web, the exclusive use of the English alphabet in URLs and domain names began to present challenges to such users.
To address the difficulty of using only English names, give a unique identity to companies, organizations and individuals, and promote the use of native languages in Internet environments, a company named Netpia became the first company in 1999 to commercialize native language (in this case, Hangul) Internet address. In 2003 Netpia become the first Korean company to announce native language Internet addresses (NLIA) at the United Nations. International activities have been undertaken including participation in Internet address-related organizations such as ICANN, IETF, ITU, and APRICOT. In particular, the ITU started discussing the possible technical standardization of NLIA in 2004. In November 2004 Dr Kangsik Cheon, who has been actively involved in numerous international meetings as a member of Netpia, was appointed a member of the United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.
In Korea it is quite common to see people who do not know a word of English, such as the elderly or young children, using NLIA to access the Internet, conduct e-commerce, find important information, and get benefits from e-Government services without difficulties.
Currently, all of Korea’s local government Web sites, in association with the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, have registered their Korean Internet Address, helping the Korean people to access civil services online more easily. In addition, during a recent election campaign, more than 90% of the National Assembly candidates registered their homepages using the Korean Internet Address, giving voters easier access to information about them.
The online election campaigns turned out to be more effective by cutting costs and time as well as enabling the exchange of opinions compared to the old-fashioned offline promotions. The new Internet address system is widely regarded to have helped contribute to the development of a genuine digital democracy by removing the irregularities arising from offline campaigns and by establishing clear and transparent election campaigns.
Netpia, Inc. - Native Language Internet Address
Today, Netpia has been expanding into a new business realm by stepping into the mobile communication market. Many people who use the limited browsers and inconvenient input method complain about the difficulty of navigating around the Web using their mobile devices. This is made even more exasperating for people who are not native users of English and thus have a harder time using an English keyboard. Netpia has recently released a mobile Web browser for the iPhone that supports Korean text Internet addresses. Built on the Safari browser platform, the user can enter an address in Korean instead of the usual alphabet URL. The app even includes a feature where the user only needs to enter the first consonant or vowel of a Korean character in order to navigate to the page. By using new mobile technology, Netpia plans to continue to expand native language functions including Web browsing, searching, and native language e-mail addresses.