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A History of Korean Gaming

Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

Back to the Index

HiCom / eSofnet:

Page 1

Interview


Interview With Jason Park

Remains a mystery: IF

Jason Park (Korean Name 박성준 Park Seongjun) worked at HiCom and eSofNet on the Corum series and is now head of the R&D division at Eyasoft.

When did you join HiCom and what was your job at the company?

Jason Park: I've started in November 1997 at HiCom and stayed there until the closing of eSofnet in December 2004. At the time I joined, the company was just in the final stages of Corum 2. I've worked as a programmer on Corum 3 and Corum Oejeon, and also on some MMOs after that.

Corum III was released in English, but only for BeOS

Then this was before you joined the company, but did you maybe hear anything about the Mega Drive games that HiCom had developed, Powerball and IF?

JP: As far as I know, Powerball was almost completed, but cancelled due to the rapid transition of platforms. After the followup console, the Saturn, was released, no one saw any market value in Mega Drive games, anymore. I never heard about IF.

The Corum series was quite popular, but Corum Oejeon disappointed many fans for not having to do anything with the other games, regardless of what qualities it may have had. What was the reason to change a beloved series like that?

JP: The development team itself was pretty confident about Corum's strengths and its positioning as a series of action RPGs. The only problem was that at the time those didn't sell as well as turn based SRPGs, mostly represented by The War of Genesis. As you probably know, HiCom was also the publisher for The War of Genesis: Rhapsody of Zephyr, which had the consequence that management put the two series in comparison all the more.

Corum 3 was very well received for its production values and gameplay, but nonetheless it stayed far behind the popularity of The War of Genesis, so at that point even inside the team there came the idea that maybe that was the kind of game the market wants, so it was decided to develop a turn based SRPG as a kind of side story.

Corum Oejeon, the black sheep in the series

But for a team like ours, which was well used to creating action RPGs, it proved difficult to emulate the delicate scenario and dramatic strength of a game like The War of Genesis, and pessimistic views arised among staff members. Towards the end HiCom joined with eSofnet and started to shift towards online games, so Corum Oejeon didn't get 100% the attention it needed and was kinda just finished up to push it out.

When researching today, the relation between HiCom and eSofnet is hard to quite figure out. Did HiCom become eSofnet, or was that a different company that bought HiCom?

JP: HiCom later became eSofNet as a result of their fusioning with FEW. As a result, the team first operated under the transitional name Softtop while the company became Wise HiCom, and a few months later eSofNet. So it should be correct to view eSofNet not as a company that existed independently before, but the result of the fusion of HiCom and FEW.

Corum Online

After the closing of eSofNet, most staff members went on to found different companies. As far as I know, the Corum team founded NetTimeSoft to make Corum Online. As of late, their homepage isn't accessible anymore. Does the company still exist?

JP: When eSofNet closed their doors, the games that were in development at the time were scattered to various companies, according to the rights and contracts. The Corum team moved to NetTimeSoft, the N-Age team to Seda Online, and the Dark Story Online team to Eya Interactive (today EyaSoft). Furthermore, after going through complicated procedures the former team leader of Dragon Raja got to complete the game with his new company Barunson, and the team for Ys Online, which was still in early development, went to CJ Internet, who were the main investor in the game. I don't know about the current conditions of NetTimeSoft. As far as I know, almost all the former Corum team members left there around 2004-2005.

Currently in development at EyaSoft: Project E

I remember the Corum team back then for their outstanding teamwork and know-how. Especially when HiCom first went bancrupt during the development of Corum 3, even with payment overdue for months, only one single team member quit, while the rest kept working until the end to complete the project.

Unfortunately, after the fusion of HiCom and FEW the former president of the latter became the head of the R&D department, and there were a lot of problems because his style differed from that of the HiCom people. About half of the staff left the company in the first half of 2000, and was scattered here and there, so a true sequel to the Corum series became impossible.

Since the former president of HiCom, Han Youngjo, stayed with EyaSoft as an advisor, many former HiCom staff members came back together at EyaSoft one by one after all those twists and turns, and are now working together on new projects.


Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

Back to the Index

HiCom / eSofnet:

Page 1

Interview


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