Koreas Share Passion for Games

Computer games are growing in popularity among affluent young North Koreans, sources inside North Korea say. The number of teenagers showing signs of addiction to such games is also on the rise.

“As soon as vacation began, children who would ordinarily have been playing games for one or two hours a day immerse themselves in them for much longer,” a source from Sinuiju in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK yesterday. “Parents believed it was good for the brain, but I bet some now really regret having given their kids rechargeable batteries to play them with.”

North Korean teenagers are particularly fond of combat games, the source reported. Most are imported from China, just like everything else in North Korea. A lot of the time they get them on DVD and play them on notebook computers or via DVD players.

Most North Korean private homes now have DVD players, and many use them to watch foreign movies and dramas, so as long as one has money to buy a joystick and game DVD then it is possible to play the games. The problem, however, is electricity; so they charge their batteries with the electricity that is available, and use the batteries to play games.

“Kids don’t always eat regularly, and even if they do, they do it while playing games,” the source added. “There are even a few cases of kids not bothering to do their homework for the vacation, so their parents have to do it instead.”

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Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Many of her articles are featured in the Jangmadang section of the Daily NK website. She has been interviewed by the New York Times and LA Times, among others, and is a contributor on North Korea issues for TBS and KBS.