In 2009, the Korean Internet and Security Agency was established by integrating three governmental agencies including National Internet Development Agency, which was responsible for IP addresses, DNS infrastructure and the .kr domain. The older KRNIC was incorporated into the new KISA to manage IP names and identifiers. Among its duties, KISA is now responsible for both the .kr ccTLD and the 한국 (.hanguk) IDN associated with the ccTLD.

The Korean IDN was launched with a sunrise period starting May 25, 2011 and a landrush period starting August 22, 2011. The general launch for the IDN started in October of 2011 and by the end of 2011 there were 210 000 한국 (.hanguk) domains registered. During 2012, the number of 한국 domain names reduced by over 50% to 91 000 due to lack of landrush renewals. 2013 has seen a continuation of the decline in the number of 한국 registrations: at the end of 2013 there were 60 000, a further reduction of 34%.

Much of the initial registration volume appears to have come from name speculation. At the end of 2011, only 29.45% of the names registered in the IDN resolved to a resource on the Internet. With the significant reduction in the number of domains registered in 2012, the number of IDNs that actually resolved rose to 55.17%. That compares to a resolution rate of 71.26% in the same time period for .kr domains. At the end of 2013, the resolution rate of 한국 (.hanguk) was 48.07% and the resolution rate of .kr domains was 70.37%, a slight reduction.

During 2013, KISA conducted research on the universal acceptance of 한국 domain names across mobile and desktop operating systems, applications including social networks, and browsers.

  • All browsers (mobile and desktop) are successfully displaying the Korean IDNs, apart from Internet Explorer (lower than 6.0 (desktop) and Mobile Explorer 7.5)
  • Applications popular in Republic of Korea (AL Tool, Naver and Google) accept Korean IDNs in the toolbar, both “테스트.한국” (test.hanguk), and “http;//테스 트.한국” (test.hanguk). Bing does not.
  • During 2013, Naver and Daum (popular Korean applications) began to display 한국 (hanguk) domain names in search results.
  • Social Networks popular in Republic of Korea (Kakao, Naverline, and Nate On) have mixed results with supporting IDNs. Only Nate On supports the Korean IDNs fully.

KISA has also identified electronic mail as a critical requirement. KISA has constructed a test lab for examining the user environment for electronic mail combined with internationalised electronic mail addresses. KISA intends to implement a trial of Korean Internationalised email in 2014. KISA is also planning a cooperative project with Korean registrars in relation to internationalised email addresses, to take place in the second half of 2014.

As with many IDN registries, KISA is active in its advocacy. It is cooperating with the Korea Internet Corporations Association to raise user awareness of 한국 (hanguk) through the popular applications Naver, Daum, Kakao Talk and others. It continues to conduct research on the user experience of 한국 (hanguk) and on support for 한국 (hanguk) in popular applications.

KISA believes that collective effort is required to improve the universal acceptance of IDNs, involving the ICANN multistakeholder community and software developers; and that continual improvement in the support for IDNs and multilingualism across software, and programmes is necessary for the ICANN new gTLD programme to become a success.

Previously Published in World Report on Internationalised Domain Names, 2014