North Korea Sees Rise in Popularity for Foreign Video Games

Rockstar Games

The Korea Times reports that video games are picking up steam in North Korea, according to
those who have since left the country.

These individuals attest that titles ranging from “Grand Theft Auto V” to “FIFA Online” have been increasingly popular among younger North Koreans, especially in more underground circles. One 14-year-old told Seoul’s Daily NK that he had played “almost all” of South Korea’s “most famous” games while in the country, and that all of his friends had played “foreign” games as well.

Tech-savvy North Koreans hide their secret caches of games from the authorities using some pretty simplistic methods as well. For instance, they’ll simply change filenames to utilize extensions like .jpg, .doc, or other benign filetypes to avoid suspicion. The authorities, according to a North Korean defector, are more interested in keeping folks from watching movies and television shows sourced from South Korea, and thus aren’t on the lookout for games.

Since the games are typically shared via USB drives and shared around with those looking to get their hands on them, it’s simple to keep things like these hidden, though the question of how the games are getting into the country is still something shrouded in mystery.

Likely because of the rising interest in gaming for those in the country, North Korea has begun work on its own titles, such as the first-person shooter “Hunting Yankee,” according to the U.K.’s Sunday Express.

The shooter finds players tasked with eliminating American troops, though there are additional titles available as well for mobile phones. The North Korean Advanced Technology Research Institute has reportedly released titles like “Guardian,” “Goguryeo Battlefield,” and “Confrontation War” as well.

It’s a dangerous nation to be caught playing or utilizing materials that aren’t expressly approved for use, to be sure, but it appears that the medium is catching on in a way that could see a market flourishing in the future.