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Jumping Korea

Games, the original star of the Korean-wave,
feels no envy of Psy
It is estimated that the total export of Korean games last year amounted to 2.78 billion dollars(about 3 trillion won), an important driving force of the Korean economy. In fact, games earn 12 times or even 100 times more than what Korean music and movies earn respectively. The total export amount of games is bigger than what K-pop, movies, TV programs and other contents all add up to, playing a good diplomatic role on behalf of Korea.
Games, the cornerstone for Korea’s cultural contents’ boom
In 2012, the music industry had the entire world smitten. ‘Gangnam style’ of ‘Psy’ has kept setting music records relentlessly, promoting the status of K-pop in the global music industry. Movies have exerted influence on the global stage, too. Kim Ki-duck, the director behind ‘Pieta’ received the Golden Lion at Venice International Film Festival, earning the most prestigious prize among the world's three biggest film festivals.
The game industry in Korea claims that it initially set the stage for the current Korean-wave boom. According to it, Korean games were the trailblazer that helped the rest of the world know about Korea which was previously considered a cultural desert. In 2004, Wemade Entertainment opened the gates for the export of Korean games with ‘The Legend of Mir 2.’ This game set stellar records: 700,000 simultaneous log-ins, 60% of market share and 2 trillion won in accumulated sales in the Chinese market. Meanwhile, after being launched in Taiwan and Japan in 2002, ‘Ragnarok Online’ of Gravity went on to success in 77 countries including Thailand, Indonesia, China, Europe, North America, Brazil and the Middle East. It has 60 million members and earned 1 trillion won. The FPS(first-person shooting) game developed by Zepetto, ‘Point-blank’ had 200,000 simultaneous log-ins in Indonesia. Softnyx attracted 50 million members in many countries including Peru with its game ‘Wolf Team’, emerging as a new Nexon in Central and South America. As Korean games have steadily established themselves in the global market, they have became famous cultural contents of Korea, ahead of Korean music or movies.
The never-ending story of the Korean-wave in the game industry
The Korean-wave of games which initially began with ‘The Legend of Mir 2’ and ‘Ragnarok Online’ is now being continued by ‘Dungeon & Fighter’ and ‘Cross Fire’ which have 3 million and 4 million simultaneous log-ins respectively.
Nexon, the developer and service provider of ‘Dungeon & Fighter’, earned more than 70% of its sales profits of 1.5 trillion won(1.39 billion dollars) abroad. Now, Nexon has advanced into about 100 countries and has approximately 1.3 billion users.
The more successful the Korean-wave is, the more popular Korean culture becomes. Microsoft put a song, ‘I Am The Best’ by 2NE1, in its game ‘Dance Central 3.’ It also included ‘Gangnam style’ by ‘Psy’ in its download contents to sell. Riot Games, meanwhile, put ‘Ari’ in ‘League of Legend.’ ‘Ari’ is a Gumiho(Legendary fox with nine tails) character wearing a Hanbok(Korean traditional clothes). As this Korean character shows up in the game that is taking the biggest share of the market, this legendary character has also became famous. In ‘Civilization 5’ by Sid Meier, Korean history and Sejong the Great also show up. It also correctly marks the ‘East Sea’ on the map, promoting Korea’s status in the world.

The second boom of Korean games in the mobile era
Korea Creative Content Agency forecasted that the game industry would grow to generate revenues of 12.5 trillion won(11.5 billion dollars) in 2013, up by 19.1% from last year. The main factor behind this is the growth potential based on the mobile platform. According to this, the transformation of the game platform, which was triggered by ‘Ani Pang’, would create a new kind of market and would expand the number of users. Furthermore, The rising export of mobile games based on the vigorous smart phone market in South-East Asia, following the boom in North America and Europe, has also been highlighted as one of the factors behind this forecast.
The game industry in Korea looks upon these changes as both a crisis and an opportunity. Nexon merged with Nexon Mobile, its subsidiary company, in order to create a bigger synergy effect in the business. It also took over Japan’s inBlue and gloops. Ncsoft signed a contract with GREE and DeNA of Japan for mobile games contents such as ‘Lineage’ and ‘Blade & Soul.’ Na Seong-chan, the director general of Ncsoft, said, “This year will be a critical year for Ncsoft's mobile game business success.” He continued, “We will release about 10 mobile games that are all developed by us in the second half of this year.”
Attention is now focusing on whether game companies which have kept Korea at the top of the ranking list in the online game market will also captivate global users with its mobile games, too.

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