April 6, 2010

Wired Korea

Korea is certainly tech and gadget crazy. Cell phones here have more bells and whistles and cost considerably less than in the U.S. For example, If I make two hours of interational calls back to the U.S. my charge will be around $30. When I was in the U.S. calling to Korea to finalize my current contract a little over thirty minutes somehow magically translated to over $600 in charges. Thanks AT&T, that seemed more than fair.

Aside from cell phones the internet is cheap and everywhere as well. I never bought a computer here. I prefer to go to internet cafes. The internet cafe, or pc room, costs a dollar an hour and comes with a cup of coffee. They are also open 24 hours a day. If you are ever in Korea you will notice the English letters PC quite often. Look specifically for PC방. Just walk inside, grab a card, and you are online. I frequent these establishments and what I really get a kick out of is the crowd.

In the afternoon the rooms are usually extremely noisy. Children yell and scream while playing various games as the sounds of KPOP blare throughout the room. I guarantee you will always be hip to the music of the youth. Late evening brings in the gamers. Wearing headphones they smoke cigarettes and get lost in the fantasy games of the day. I once sat next to a man passed out in a chair while his Warcraft character sat idly on the screen for over an hour. Late night brings in drunk older men playing online poker. It never stops. There are even PC rooms which offer a female companion. Another gateway to prostitution?Gaming is an absolute obsession here. In my town two television channels are dedicated to 24hour coverage of gaming and gaming competitions. A truly sad story about the game craze in Korea comes out of Suwon. A couple with a newborn spent their nights fueling an addiction to an online game. They forgot to feed their baby. At three months old their daughter died of malnutrition. The game they were playing, Prius, allows users to raise a young girl during the adventure.


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