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A History of Korean Gaming

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Conventions and disclaimer for the article

In this article, the Revised Romanization of Korean is used to transcribe Korean terms and names, with the exception of established personal English writings (only hyphens or spaces separating the syllables of given names are omitted unless absolutely necessary). The name Lee is transcribed more correctly as Yi unless such a personal writing is known. Also, anglicisms in titles or company names are given in their correct English writing unless stated otherwise ("Straight RR"). A hyphen is used in titles to distinguish grammatical particles and other common suffixes from the actual word. Please note that RR does not imitate English phonography, and thus further sources need to be consulted if one wants to get a grasp of the correct pronounciation.

Actual game release dates, when available, are preferred over production or copyright dates. For online games, both the open beta start and commercial release dates are given if applicable and known. With often conflicting sources and the high frequency of game delays, some of which are never officially anounced, it is nearly impossible to get everything straight, so a number of slight mistakes and misinterpretations is almost granted.

Most scans and photographs are taken from various contemporary Computer Hakseup, MyCom, Game World, Game Champ, PC Champ, Gamepia and PC Power Zine issues and belong either to Mincom, Jeu Media, Mirae Sidae or KBS Munhwa Saeopdan. Furthermore, the newspapers The Kyunghyang Shinmun, Dong-A Ilbo, Maeil Gyeongje and The Hankyoreh, available at the Naver News Library. The main online sources for screenshots and photos are Game Donga, Game Meca, Gameshot and GG Game. Other sources for the images used are given at the appropriate parts of the article. There may be a few sources that have been forgotten, please inform us if you happen to know any missing references.

In regards to screenshots, there are many games that so far are only known through video game magazines, with no coverage whatsoever on the web and copies completely unavailable in the scope of this article. For many of those games, the actual resolution is not known, and proportions on the screenshots may differ from the original and belong to the individual magazines' publishing houses and/or the copyright holders of the games.

Special thanks goes to all the people that provided additional information and/or materials: kimimi, ryochan, stefanl, retropc, mani and Trickless from the Hardcore Gaming 101 forums, CRV of GDRI, Bock of SMS Power!, Manuel of Generation MSX, Arjan Prosman formerly of MSX Club Gouda, ionique and mayhouse from the Korean SPC-1000 community, ackmed from the ASSEMbler forums, Kim Kyongsoo and Kim Seongwan formerly of Mirinae Software, Jason Park formerly of HiCom and eSofnet, and all that I've forgotten to mention.

Some important gaming terms particular to the Korean context

Term Explanation

baduk 바둑

Korean name for the game that't known to most as go.

cafe 카페

Korean style message board. The functionality is actually more akin to a blog, so old threads never get 'bumped' and replies to an original post are treated as mere comments.

dongin 동인

Indie game. Translation of the Japanese doujin.

jaebeol 재벌

Huge conglomerates that used to reach their arms out into any thinkable kind of industry. Many of them have been diffused into several separate companies by now. The term is the direct equivalent to the Japanese zaibatsu.

jeonseol 전설

"Legend"; common element in game titles. Based on the same Chinese characters as the Japanese "Densetsu".

Han'geul 한글

The Korean script.

manhwa 만화

"Comic Book"; based on the same Chinese characters as the Japanese "Manga".

moheom 모험

"Adventure"; common element in game titles. Based on the same Chinese characters as the Japanese "Bouken".

oejeon 외전

"Side Story"; common element in game titles. Based on the same Chinese characters as the Japanese "Gaiden".

oraksil 오락실

Arcade, literally "entertainment room"; originally called jeonja oraksil (electronic entertainment room).

package game 패키지게임

(Offline-)PC game sold in a box, often used as an antonym to online games and digital distribution, less commonly to jewel case budget releases.

PC Bang 피씨방

Internet cafe. In Korea, these are social meeting places where young people often come meet to play online games together.

Samgukji 삼국지

Records of the Three Kingdoms. From the Chinese Sanguo Zhi (known in Japan as Sangokushi). Spawned legions of adapted versions throughout East Asia, be it video games, comic books or TV dramas. The term is also found in Korean video game titles, but mostly for localized Taiwanese and Koei games.


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