Koreans and StarCraft

I sometimes can’t help but notice how StarCraft has become a part of South Korean culture as ignorance has for America in recent years. Many national StarCraft tournaments play on mainstream Korean television networks and major corporations actually sponsor players, who sometimes are able to secure lucrative endorsement deals. Most of all, many of these players become traders in the Korean stock market once they retire since financial institutions need their skills at making quick bid and ask orders on the stock exchanges.

Note that the intensity of the commentators over a simple quick game of StarCraft and the cheering fans. The game is supposedly popular to the point where average Korean schoolgirls knows that bunkers need to be build and staffed with marines to defend from a Zerg rush. Not surprisingly, the term “ZERG RUSH KEKEKEKE” was popularised by Korean players playing against English-speakers on Battle.net.

Then you have Korean comedians developing skits around imitating StarCraft sounds…

I really don’t know why StarCraft has taken hold in South Korea. For one, this game doesn’t have anything remotely Korean in it and it was originally designed for western gamers in mind. Apparently, the popularity of StarCraft in Korea has also been credited with the growth of the Internet economy in South Korea and some books have been designed to teach Koreans English based on StarCraft terms.

Starcnomics is an academic look at the positive effects StarCraft has had on the Korean economy. A translation of the jacket summary reads:”StarCraft Syndrome”: It’s more than an obsession with and devotion to the most popular game in Korea. It’s the effect the game has had in generating new trends and socioeconomic changes. Economically, the syndrome created a new type of Korean industry or business that grew out of the needs of the times.

This book outlines the way in which the “StarCraft Syndrome” has led to a new business success strategy, a new business paradigm that combines the strengths of the digital age, cultural industry, new business models, and current social and cultural phenomena. At the same time, the book offers an unusual case study of gaming as a business model.

Then, StarCraft 2 was announced and this is an idea of its impact on Korea

With real news headlines saying the following:

South Korean fans rejoice as a game’s sequel is announced

South Korean gamers get a sneak peek at ‘StarCraft II’

Korean Navy to Launch Online Game Team

From what I have read StarCraft is popular in Korea because of the following reasons when it first came out in 1999

There are 3 factors contributing to the popularity of StarCraft in Korea:
1. StarCraft was a US game, which was exported to South Korea

2. Japanese consoles were illegal since laws at the time banned imports from Japan

3. Most gamers played in Internet Cafes (PC 방) that encouraged multiplayer at fair prices


18 thoughts on “Koreans and StarCraft

  1. Hi. I am Korean, and I’ve read your article why starcraft has been really popular in Korea. I live in America now.

    I am not a big fan of starcraft, but I used to watch some competitions on game TV channels.

    First of all, I read 3 factors that you wrote. and Third one is obviously true. But somethings are not very true.

    1. Since starcraft was realeased in 1998, many internet cafes has spreaded in Korea. And it also results from the diffrence between Korea and USA. In Korea everything is centralized more than America. Almost half of citizens live in Seoul that is the capital of Korea. and many other cities are also centralized. And public transportation is more convinient than America. for example, about 500 subway stations are in Seoul. As a matter of fact, South Korea is as big as Indiana state. So it is possible to be contralized.
    So it’s easy to get together with friedns and to hang out in internet cafes, bars or somewhere else.

    2. It is related to Korean citizen’s culture and indegenous characterlistics. In Asia such as Japan and Korea,
    sometimes unity and being humble infront of people are regarded as politeness and common sense. In a nut shell, it means trend and being together is sometimes important in these societies. If many people start to like playing starcraft, the others have high possibility to get interested in it or likt it.

    3. I also used to play video games especially made from Japan. But it was easy to get video games even though it might have been illegal. -> I don’t really know about this.

    4. I don’t know why you wrote factor 1.
    Starcraft has been popular because it was a US game?
    I don’t understand it. the reason why many people like starcraft is its good balace among starcraft units and
    to have to do many things simultaneously.
    In common sense, I want to ask you when you buy a game, do you really consider a game is from China, France or some other countries? I may be consider it’s a domestic game or a foreign game. I think it’s not a big deal.

    5. many people might have started to like baskect ball because of a famous sport star, Michael Jordan. Likewise,
    a famous profession game player has been doing well in Korea. His name is yo-hwan Lim. he’s not good nowadays though. His ability of starcraft was unbeleivable, so many people liked him and were interesed in starcraft.

    6. you didn’t mention about this, but starcraft is not the only sports in Korea. Actually, basball, basketball and soccer leagues are more popular than E-sport(game).
    Korea got gold medal at baseball in Bajing oplympic.

    7. the speed of internet is really fast in Korea. I live in Denver, Colorado. and I am using comcast internet line.
    the fastet speed of my line is about 300 KB/Sec.
    In Korea, it’s 10MB/sec. I am not kidding. I am not bragging about Korea either. It’s true. it might result from the size of country. So, onlinegame and battle net (blizzard online) can be popular in Korea.

  2. To Jack: Stupid much?
    To Kimchiiii: Racist much?
    Why are Koreans so good at StarCraft and why have they expanded a hobby into a lifestyle?
    Well, this can’t be totally understood by the idiot who posted before me. Comparing Korea to the US, Korea is much more wired (hence, an emphasis on internet and internet gaming) and is relatively small (hence, hurting field sports to an extent). Koreans are often under heavy pressure from parents and school as schools are highly competitive, much more so than American schools. For this reason, Koreans often need a release: gaming. However, it should be noted that all Koreans don’t all turn to gaming, but often participate in field sports (Korea even won the Olympic Gold for baseball in 2008). Koreans who break down under the pressure leave home to get a job. What other job requires basically no background information and no business skills, but can turn a nice salary? Professional gaming. As internet cafes are quite popular in Korea (since Korea is so wired), it is quite easy for a runaway to find shelter in a cafe and hone his skills.
    As Korea is such a small nation, it takes pride in whatever it can, such as its prominence in baseballs, its strong economy, a generally smarter population (highest average IQ of 106), its exports (LG, Samsung, KIA, Hyundai, etc.), and its StarCraft fame.
    More people in nations like China, US, etc., play StarCraft than people in Korea. So why is Korea emphasized so much? Probably because most of top players are Korean. As Koreans are very opportunistic (both positive and negative), large companies pounced on this and with corporate sponsorship (smart for companies, results in advertising), an obsession for few became an obsession for many. However, StarCraft is not the only game played in Korea. Maplestory, Ragnorak, Guns Online, etc., were created and are played throughout the world, especially in its place of origin: Korea.
    It is true that many Koreans are crazed about this game. I admit, it is quite absurd. However, WoW, runescape, and the like are often played in exorbitant amounts by Americans.
    To Kimchiiii:
    Please, at least show some intelligence in your racism. If you’re going for smell, India is the smelliest of the Asian nations. If you’re focusing on the Orient, then it’d be the Chinese.
    Koreans are not an object of scorn for Asian nations. Korea and Japan have a strong democracy compared to China’s communism and constant inner turmoil. Technology and innovation often stems from Korea and Japan (China isn’t as specialized and does all things well, but not great). If you live in America, you would notice that Korean and Japanese automakers have an increasing foothold. However, I have not seen a single Chinese import car.
    Koreans do eat kimchi. It actually tastes pretty good. Nations worldwide eat much more bizarre ‘delicacies’ like scorpions and cockroaches embedded in lollipops.
    As I have mentioned earlier, Korea has the highest IQ at 106, followed by Japan, with China 10th, US at 16th.
    In brief, get your facts straight and go fuck yourself.

  3. GOOD SAYING Unbiased.
    Although I admit that korea its kind of addicted to computer games…
    But its nothing compared with America. America plays WOW and the worse is that you pay for play it!!! AND ITS MONTHLY? ARE YOU CRAZY? PAYING FOR PLAYING? WHAT AN STUPID IDEA!! ALTHOUGH KOREANS LOSE THEIR TIME PLAYING GAMES, WE DON’T LOSE OUR MONEY AND TIME LIKE AMERICANS. Buying a games its understandable but…
    PAYING MONTHLY????!!!!!
    HELL NO!!!!!
    FUCK YOU Kimchiiii
    I hate those comments about smelling in korea.
    America thinks that korea smell because eats food with garlic?
    You Americans always critisize other countries.

    1. who doesn’t eat food with garlic? go shoot urself right now. Egyptians fed garlic to Jews when they were enslaved. almost all culture put garlic in their food that’s why you have the word “garlic” and not some ching-chung language stupidshit..

    1. corean nationalist my ass, u go anywhere in europe talk shit about their country u don’t just get trolled, u get verbally raped. Starcraft btw is amazing game that has literally no equal. it should be given credit for that. But nationalizing a fucking game is as retarded as nationalizing an irish midget fetish and halloween. I agree that Korea is as fucked up as Japan nowadays. Just type Japan in google image u see what i mean. I know u type Japanese-something when ur lonely and horny.

  4. who cares…. If you like the game you like it. If you dont like it, you dont like it. Plus, if you have questions regarding about race, dont be a retard like Kimchii and say something stupid. How old are you, 3? Anyways, stick to the topic people.

  5. I am a Korean American and I am in Korea right now. I can safely safe that Starcraft has lost alot of people’s interest here. In fact, when you walk into a PC Cafe here the last game i see anyone playing is Starcraft. It is still heavily played on TV though. I think that is because of that fact certain players are that good and that Korean companies mainy LG, Samsung, and other companies supply the great Starcraft players with the Tournements it is discussed and put into press alot. However, There are TONS of games out here and even familiar ones back in the States such as WOW and CounterStrike that alot of Koreans play. Besides I would put Korea far ahead of where you are live right now in comparison to Korea’s technology and speed of internet.

  6. Long as “American” isn’t including Canadians, I’m ok. We’re trying our hardest to keep their customs and services out. Ex. Phone companies.

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