Gaming is becoming a popular part of South Korean culture. Consider the following—it’s a beautiful sunny day but your child is locked away in their room where they’ve been for the last 6 hours playing video games. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, right? Not if you’re a parent in Seoul where playing video games is a career and the professional gamers gain the kind of superstar status reserved for a Hollywood movie star.
In South Korea, an estimated 18 million people, more than one-third of the country’s 48 million people, play video games online. South Korea’s gaming industry brings in an estimated $8.7 billion annually, with the government spending more than $100 million each year to promote, research and develop the market.
The players from Seoul dominate at the annual World Cyber Games, the video gaming event that was founded in South Korea in 2000. Last October the World Cyber Games were held in Monza, Italy, where some 700 competitors from around the world competed for nearly a half a million in cash and prizes.
The Grand Champion title was won by the South Korea team, with Russia and Germany taking 2nd and 3rd and the U.S. close behind finishing in 4th place. The winner of the 2011 World Cyber Games was Jong Hyun Jung. He won playing the game StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.
These gamers can pull down earnings, in salary and winnings, upwards of $200K, in a country where the average annual income is $16,291.
If you visit Seoul, not only can you check out the K-Pop music scene, but you can also check out a PC bang, or internet café, for online gaming.