Culture News Alert: Pokémon Go Released in Korea

Ninatic has released its most popular game, Pokémon Go, in Korea on Tuesday. The release came as an unexpected surprise for one of the world’s largest gaming communities.  Pokémon Go is available in Korean on the Apple App Store and on the Google Play Store (Korea Herald).

Pokémon Go was released to the world in July 2016 when it came out in the United States to major success, shaping the culture of handheld gaming.

A Korean release was delayed due to technical and political issues stemming from the game’s technology; Pokémon Go relies on GPS technology similar to Google Maps for location services, but Korean law forbids storage of map data overseas (Bustle; New York Times).  Google and the Korean government have been in a long dispute over the storage of map data.  The dispute has resulted in several high-profile denial of access results favoring the Korean government (Wall Street Journal).  The Korean version, according to reports, relies on publicly available map data to augment its location services for South Korea (Reuters).  This circumvents some of the regulations in place by the Korean government, but may limit the game in terms of number of Pokéstops and so forth–compared with the game in other countries like the United States and Japan.

Prior to the release, Pokémon Go created a virtual tourism site in Sokcho, as residents flocked there to play the game. Hotels and business even got in the action, creating maps of free wifi zones for visitors to access while they visited.  Sockcho was able to utilize the games augmented location systems due to a technicality in the map data storage laws (The Korea Page; The Guardian).

(Post has been updated with linked source material, including the article which sparked this post.)


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