EVERY KID’S DREAM – MAKE MONEY PLAYING VIDEO GAMES IN KOREA
It’s every kid’s dream – make money, not just some pocket money but a fortune, playing video games! Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, in Korea, video games (mostly PC games) are officially recognized by the government as “eSports,” and professional gamer is a legitimate occupation that you can proudly put down on your resume. For example, Lee Sang-hyeok 이상혁, a legendary ‘League of Legends’ player better known by his in-game name “Faker 페이커,” collected more than $1.2 million USD as his prize money from over 40 tournaments around the world in 2019 alone. Not only that, but team SKT, run by the namesake conglomerate, also got his back with a hefty salary. Add up the income he earns from endorsements and commercials, the number only gets bigger.
Another iconic professional gamer known around the globe and is Lim Yo-hwan 임요환, better known as his in-game ID “SlayerS_`BoxeR” which he used for the real-time strategy game ‘Starcraft.’ They were revered among the teenagers as heroes, and many kids put down “pro-gamer” as their dream job. Back in the hay days when eSports was at its prime, there were multiple cable TV channels dedicated to broadcasting video game tournaments.
There were a lot of teams sponsored and managed by large firms, and the salary was similar to that of top sports players. In 2014, the final round of the world’s most prestigious ‘League of Legends’ eSports competition was held at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Sangam, amid enthusiastic cheers from 40,000 spectators. Although “YouTuber” has replaced pro gamer as many kids’ dream job, eSports is widely enjoyed by Koreans, regardless of age and gender.
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PC BANG – THE TOTAL ENTERTAINMENT SOLUTION FOR THE DIGITAL GENERATION
If you’re a fan of eSports, you might have wondered what the secret is behind the global dominance of the Korean players. Well, it’s all about infrastructure! Anywhere you go, even in the most remote rural parts of Korea, they have a PC bang 피씨방 (PC room). Once you enter, you will find a room full of computers, equipped with top-of-the-line hardware to cater to the needs of the gamers. With this, you might be hasty to come to the conclusion that these rooms, often large enough to hold hundreds of computers, are the secret training camp for the aspiring Korean gamers! You’re partly right and partly wrong – because it’s just an entertainment venue for those who want to kill some time playing games and also a decent dating spot. The best part? Most places have an awesome food selection, from self-service instant noodles to legitimate meals prepped by the PC bang staff. Sounds cool, right? For average couch potatoes like you and me, it’s just awesome to have someone bring the meals while we’re playing video games. Nowadays, some PC bangs even have shower and sleeping facilities, to cater to the needs of business people and hardcore gamers. For many, it’s truly a home away from home.
IT’S MIDNIGHT AND KIDS SHOULD BE AT HOME – “CINDERELLA LAW”
Do you know where your children are? “The Cinderella Law/Act” stipulates that no access to PC games should be allowed by the service providers to kids under the age of 16 during the late-night hours of between 12 a.m. to 6 a.m., and the in-game screens have to feature a warning sign about video game addiction.
MUKBANG – YOU CAN ALSO MAKE MONEY BROADCASTING YOUR EATING SESSION!
Becoming a pro-gamer seems like a long shot because you are all fingers and thumbs? Don’t you give up just yet – there’s another great opportunity to make money if you love food and have a healthy stomach! Known as mukbang 먹방, a compound word made up of meokneun 먹는 (“eating”) and bangsong 방송 (“show/broadcast”), mukbang is a live online show/broadcast showing you eat!
While the host of the show typically wows the viewers by eating typically wows the viewers by eating a large amount of food, which can be anything from instant noodles to super-sized pizza (Tzuyang 쯔양 once ate 6 instant cup noodles in 10 minutes, and 170 McNuggets in one sitting), the main purpose of the show is to provide a vicarious gratification to the viewers and keep the solo diners company, and the fact that people watch other people eat on the screen accurately portrays the change in the lifestyle – it’s a way of interacting with other people because you can join the chat screen on the side while being able to maintain personal space, perfect for young Koreans who are embracing the honsul/honbap 혼술/혼밥 (“solo drinking/eating”) culture.
Famous mukbang stars make a lot of money, from YouTube advertisement revenue and donations from their fans. For instance, MoonBoki 문복희 received over 1.8 million views on average on her YouTube channel alone. Mukbang has gained popularity around the globe, and many foreign YouTube personalities have been jumping on the bandwagon too.
Do your own munchin’ session with Korean snack boxes.