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A History of Korean Gaming

Table of Contents

Part 1

Part 2

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by Sam Derboo - originally posted July 13, 2010; last updated March 2014

Video games are an incredibly young medium, but nevertheless their history is already full of myths and mysteries, lost treasures and forgotten heroes. The seeming inability of developers and publishers to properly preserve their company history, but much more the incredibly fast-lived nature of the industry has left the aspiring game historian with a huge mess to clean up. Yet a decent number of competent video game histories have been compiled so far.

Works like David Sheff's Game Over, Steven L. Kent's The Ultimate History of Video Games (first edition titled The first quarter) or even Winnie Forster's The encyclopedia of Game Machines all not only help gamers to grasp a greater picture of the industry around their hobby, but also supply them with countless details and anecdotes that make events of former video game times come to live. What they left out is nowadays only a few clicks away, and the curriculum vitae of the American star designer on Wikipedia is as up-to-date as the news on rediscovered Japanese prototype games from twenty years ago.

But there lies the crux of the matter - even the most prestigious English publications are virtually confined to the two regions where video games originated and reincarnated, respectively. The internet fills the gaps for much of Europe, but every other country that doesn't use latin script is locked off to Western retro gamers for the most part. People can only hope to stumble upon the oddball localization or even accounts about games from places like Russia or continental East Asia, and South Korea was no exception until it began to unleash it's wave of MMOs upon the world. This article tries to depict the history of the industry and culture from the very beginnings until its rise to fame in the new millenium. Everything before that breakthrough, especially considering the early stages, is so far covered only vaguely and anecdotally even in Korean. A whole country full of games many may have never heard about awaits.

Table of Contents

0. Conventions and disclaimer

A. History
Part 1: First steps and emancipation
Part 2: The rise and fall of the Package

B. Specials
Finding Korean retrogames
Lost games: 1987-1993
Lost games: 1994
Lost games: 1995
Lost games: 1996
Lost games: 1997
The other Korea: Video games in the North
Korean games for the World: Games by Koreans, but not (primarily) for Koreans
Interview: Kim Kyongsoo and Kim Seongwan
Interview: Jason Park

C. Companies and Organizations
Byulbram Creature
Danbi System
Daou Infosys
Daewoo Electronics
Deniam, Amuse World
DS Game Channel
Ecstasy, Digital Impact, Cyonex, Aeonsoft
Family Production, Pentavision
Gamepark, GPH, Gambros
Gleam Entertainment, L&K Logic Korea
Goldstar / LG / Hanbit Soft
Grigon Entertainment, Garam and Baram, Mira Space
HIC Infocomm / Digital Dream Studio
HiCom / eSofnet
HQ Team, JoyOn, nDoors
Hyundai Electronics
Jamie System
KidnKid.com / N-Log Soft
KRG Soft
Mirinae Software, Mirinae Entertainment, Mirinae Games
Open Mind World
Orange Soft
Phantagram, Blueside
Sailon / Uzdream
Sammi Computer
Samsung Electronics
Seed 9
SIECO, Gameline
Sigmatec / SiEn Art
SKC, Namil Soft, Wizard Soft
Soft Action
Softry / ST Entertainment, Game School
Sonnori, Ntreev, Ironnos
Static Soft
T3 Entertainment
Taff / Ntix Soft, Red Duck
Unico / Uniana
Other games 1988-1993
Other games 1994-1995
Other games 1996
Other games 1997
Other games 1998
Other games 1999
Other games 2000
Other games 2001
Other games 2002
Other games 2003-2004

D. Appendices
Game Release Index
Overview of game consoles
Early home computers
Gaming magazines
Localized games from Korea
Game credits repository

E. Supplements (blog)
Korean Street Fighter animated movie
Visit to the GoldenBell Joymax factory in 1993

Sin'geom-ui Jeonseol (Apple II, 1987)

The Day II (MSX, 1991)

Pee & Gity Special (IBM PC, 1994)

Astrocounter of Crescents (IBM PC, 1996)

Forgotten Saga (Windows, 1997)

Zaphie (Windows, 1999)

Seal: Travelers of Destiny (Windows, 2000)

Lineage 2 (Windows, 2003)

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