Why doesn’t Target’s website work in South Korea?

Kosmayer/Shutterstock
Kosmayer/Shutterstock
Target.com doesn’t work in South Korea, and that’s a problem for Sean Bamrick, who is stationed there with his family. Can I help him unblock it?

Question: I’m currently stationed with my family in South Korea and for the last few months the Target website has blocked us from online shopping.

This may not seem like a large problem but there are hundreds of Army/Air Force families here that count on that website for kids’ clothing and other items that provide a taste of home.

I was hoping you could get a response from Target as to why we have all been blocked from shopping and shipping to APO addresses. — Sean Bamrick, Yangju, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea

Answer: I can get an answer, but I’m not sure you’re going to like it.

Before I do, let me say that I feel your pain. I spent 16 years overseas, and I also longed for a taste of “the States” — whether it was a can of root beer or a block of cheddar cheese. This was pre-Internet, so the only way to secure said contraband was to befriend someone who worked for the U.S. military and could visit the commissary to buy a box of Cheerios or candy corn, products that were completely unavailable in that part of Europe at the time.

(By the way, for the uninitiated, APO, or Army Post Office, is a designation given to postal offices on US military bases overseas; FPO, or Fleet Post Office, is given to Navy bases overseas.)

Although Target ships to overseas military, it notes some restrictions on its website. For example, food, candy and chocolate can’t be shipped to APO/FPO addresses. Sigh. No jet-puffed marshmallows for you!

Also, “certain items can only be shipped to the continental 48 states via standard delivery, and cannot be shipped to APO/FPO addresses. This will be indicated on the product description page,” according to Target.

(If you want to try to ship those, one of my editors recommends the Amazon or Walmart websites. And he should know — he has a son who is deployed overseas with the Navy.)

I asked Target if it was blocking you from using the site in South Korea. A company spokesman offered a somewhat vague response.

“The vast majority of items sold at Target.com are available to be shipped to APO/FPO addresses,” he said. “Target.com is not accessible from all countries or domain name servers. We apologize for any frustration this may have caused.”

Here’s another possible answer: I’ve heard from other overseas military who say certain sites are blocked from their Internet service provider. Without actually seeing your screen and having access to your system settings, I wouldn’t know. If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say there’s a good chance Target.com is being blocked at your end.

Try accessing the Internet from your cell phone, an outside Internet account or a work computer, and see if that fixes the problem. That still won’t solve the problem of not being able to get a box of Hershey’s chocolate bars in time for Halloween, but it might fix the issue you’re having.

Update (9 a.m.): Target’s just sent me this statement via its Twitter account: “For various business reasons, Target may restrict access to our site particular domain name servers or countries.”

Do American big box retailers make it too difficult for members of the armed services to shop online?

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