A Primer on Gaming Culture in South Korea
In the last decade, South Korea has become a leader in Esports. Today, gaming is a thriving aspect of modern Korean culture with mainstream appeal that rivals that of K-beauty and K-pop. A lot of its cultural impact is due to a recent demographic shift (much like in the rest of the world) that skews towards a younger generation of consumers. More and more teens today not only participate in the sport, but they're sharing their enthusiasm with their friends and generating massive growth for the industry, according to a recent report by Nielsen.
On June 17, members of several K-pop groups gathered to face off in OGN's Game Dolympic 2019: Golden Card, the first and largest celebrity Esports competition in South Korea. Some of the idols that participated in the event were NCT's Taeyong, B1A4's Gongchan, girl groups Berry Good, SONAMOO and DIA, among many others.
This was the second year that CJ ENM's gaming channel OGN hosted the competition, though gaming spectacles of this caliber are nothing new in what is now regarded as one of the most competitive gaming capitals in the world.
In South Korea, where the internet is just about as fast as the speed of light, the gaming experience is on another level. Internet cafes, or PC bangs (PC방), are everywhere. They are loaded with rows of computers, comfortable seating, and often accommodate their guests with food and beverages.
To get a sense of how immense Esports is in South Korea, look no further than to professional gamer Lee Sang-hyeok, commonly known as Faker.
If there is anyone who rivals the popularity of K-pop idols it's this guy. Faker is the world's top League of Legends gamer, and through his insane skill-set has been able to bring South Korea to the table of competitive gaming. Faker is such a huge figure, that he is sponsored by juggernaut company Telecom. He posts content several times a week, collecting hundreds of thousands of views with every video along the way. With a following that big, it's easy to see where today's online citizens are spending their time and money.
Gaming is not only a hobby for South Korea's youth, for many it's their only one. Just as how the internet has evolved into this vital resource for mass communication, so has the way people utilize it to enhance their everyday lives. Gaming is perhaps one of the most influential sources of cultural change, and it only seems to be growing over time.
If you're a gamer, what are some of your favorite games to play? Are you a League of Legends player or more of a PUBG person? Sound off in the comments section below and we'll explore some of the most popular games in South Korea in a future gaming article!
Written by Arnold