Gaming in Korea

Video gaming in Korea is certainly a different beast from gaming in other parts of the world. While many things are familiar, there are many unique concepts here that are only now just starting to peak their head outside of Korea and outside of Southeast Asia.

While console gaming is fairly typical here, PC gaming works on an entirely different business model. Games are often given away for free and then micropayments for things like clothes, paint jobs, weapons, etc are used to generate income for the company that has published the game. This sounds ideal. The Korean internet is full of free games that are often high quality and interesting, but for foreigners it can be difficult to access these.

The Korean internet is a closed one. Korean websites generally require you use your Korean Social Security Number to create an account on them. Gaming websites are no different. Foreigners who stay here receive one, but they receive a special foreign social security number. Some websites will take these, some will not. Many websites are set up to only take 3 or 4 character long names, which is standard for Korean names, but far too short for a foreigner to input their entire name. Others don't restrict the length of name input but haven't installed the tools necessary to check the foreign social security database.

I'm going to review various games, gaming portals and other game related news in Korea. This blog will be aimed primarily at foreigners living in Korea. As most games are online only games, gaming in Korea from outside Korea can introduce a lot of lag. Playing with a 400 ms ping when everyone else is sitting at 15ms is a bit of a disadvantage. Before we get started I suggest the following:

  1. Learn to read Korean letters. Known as Hangul, the letter system is not that difficult. Even if you can't understand the words many of the words use in video games are Konglish. Konglish is English words written in Korean letters. If you can sound them out, you can guess the meaning. As an example 로그인 (lo-geu-een) is pronounced very similar to and sounds like "login". I learned using Declan's Read/Write software. Its very affordable includes sounds, and stroke order. If you'd like a free solution, you might try Learn Korean.
  2. Add the Korean IME to your language bar. This is the Korean input system for Microsoft Windows.
  3. Change the language for non-unicode programs. Some games don't have all their fonts coded properly and if you don't change this, the text will show up as garbage characters instead of Korean letters. Change this to Korean.
  4. Make sure your have your alien registration card. While not useful on all sites, I'll make note of the ones that it can be used on and you can create accounts on those sites.
  5. Similarly make sure you have your cell phone. When creating an account they generally need to associate a phone number with the account. They'll send you a text message and you'll have to input a confirmation code.
  6. Make good friends with a Korean non-gamer. While the foreign registration card can be used on some sites, many sites do not allow foreign registration. If you're interested in trying one of those sites you'll have to ask your friend to make an account for you using their social security number. This won't be available to you after it has been created.
  7. Create a growing dictionary. These are common words to all games. For example: 시작 means start, often labeling buttons to start the game. 힘 means strength and is a word often used in RPGs. Making notes of these as quick reference can help you navigate a new game.
RPGs are a very common genre in Korea. They range from the simple hack and slash clones to the complex story driven games with many side-quests. These are generally off-limits unless you have an intermediate or higher level of Korean. The only exception might be in games which have a "pull you by the nose" play style where they highlight the quest giver, quest target, etc. Often I willl feature screenshot or video guides on how to sign up for various games and get started in them but translating and creating walkthroughs of Korean RPGs is far beyond my ability.


Hey, it's hoyajavis from hanlingo. Interesting blog you have here. I know exactly where you're coming from, and I think it's a fantastic idea to put out more information on Korean gaming for foreigners. If you're a gamer and you're learning Korean, why not combine the two interests? Anyway, I'll be checking this blog and commenting.

Thanks. Now that I've given instructions on how to join pmang, I'm going to put up a post on how to load and join your first game on there.

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