RYAN LIPPERT WRITES – South Korea enjoys some of the world’s most advanced technology. In addition, the country enoys nearly ubiquitous and extremely fast broadband. Still, one thing keeps South Korea from realizing its full online potential: Heavy-handed government regulation.

This may be about to change.

In South Korea, the Internet has been subject to a variety of government regulations, including online curfews for people under a certain age, laws requiring people to post under their actual names, bans on porn, and even laws limiting use of Google Maps to mass transit routes only.

Like most other laws, these were put in place to accomplish admirable goals, like trying to reduce suicides from cyber-bullying and the amount of geographical data available to North Korea. But the problem with over regulation is the possibility that those steps will stifle growth. The South Korean government has recognized this possibility and may be about to act on it.

Last year, South Koreans were allowed once again to choose their own online usernames, instead of being required to use their real names. And it appears that this may be just the tip of the iceberg. Last month, it was announced that there are plans to loosen the strict regulations on maps and allow Google to make new maps of South Korea. However, there are some limitations as to what Google can do under these new laws.

It’s thin gruel, for sure. But the hope is other regulations will likewise be eased with time, letting South Korea see the full potential of a minimally regulated Web.