Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Warcraft in Korea

This is part 2 of a series on WoW and Korea. Part 1 focused on Korean elements within the game. Part 2 is on gaming culture within the country itself.

 In Korea, gaming is as much part of the culture as soju or Taekwondo. PC bangs (rooms) are found on every street in every city. In these magical dark and dreary places, gamers come alone or with a raid group to ignore clocks or the opportunity of daylight to down a few bosses with their friends. WoW, Diablo and Starcraft are giant hits here, and have been the catalyst of controversy, government regulations and professional teams. This week, let’s talk about Korean raiders in WoW.

World of Warcraft might not be Korea’s most-played game, but a quick stroll through a P.C. bang will confirm its popularity to anyone checking out screens. Among the Starcraft and Lineage players, you’ll see groups of guys sitting back to back all working on the same encounter, communicating in shouts. Korean guilds have recently enjoyed top world rankings. Of the top 25 guilds to take down 10-man Madness of Deathwing, 15 of them are Korean. Most notably, the KIN raid team got the first Madness kill. When the news first broke, there was a bit of talk about the fairness of the competition and how it was odd that this team came out of nowhere to get world first. If ‘out of nowhere’ you mean ‘from 10th place’, then I guess you might have a point. In the previous raid tier, in spite of attendance issues, they still cracked the top ten for Heroic Ragnaros in Firelands. When Dragon Soul came out, the were primed and ready to beat everyone else to the finish line. 

There were several contributing factors that lead to their victory. First, they stacked legendary-wielding casters, as did every top raid team. Some people QQed about the double lockout that Korean and Taiwanese raiders had for Firelands that possibly enabled them to get more legendary staves. In reality it gave them about the same amount of total lockouts that other guilds had because Firelands came out later for them. Their gear was no better or worse than any other top-10 guild. Also, an LFR loot exploit knocked out the teams the world had been watching; Paragon and Blood Legion. Those cheaters lost an entire week and cost them the race. (If you haven’t seen this film, stop everything and do it now.) Speculation about ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ aside, the fact is: KIN raiders defeated Deathwing, and they did it before anyone else.

So, how about their name? What is KIN? 즐거운공격대 basically translates to “Happy Raiders.” However, “KIN” doesn’t at all mean “happy”. In fact, it doesn’t mean much by itself at all. To understand where the nickname comes from, we should look at the first syllable in the name: 즐 Turn it on its side and you have “KIN” Here, I’ll show you:

This is a slang term used mostly by kids and is a bit rude. So, for them to call themselves 'KIN', it is kind of like showing us a childish middle finger. Koreans like to play around with how words and letters look. For example, you want your body shape to be an S-line, not a D-line. You know how they say you need to know 10,000 characters to read a Chinese newspaper? That’s nothing compared to the emoticons needed in order to communicate with a Korean girlfriend. Here is another example: When encouraging students not to give up on their studies, they might say “No OTL!” Don’t give up! It will get better soon.

 Next week, let’s talk Diablo, shall we? 



  1. Sal,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with Korean gamers and WOW players! Very cool to hear a perspective from so far away!

  2. I must confess I did not know that about the top tier raiders, I think I might need to come out from under my rock once in a while haha >.< I think I am falling in love with the Korean mindset somehow haha!

  3. I spent a lot of time looking at the way their name was spelled in Korean, trying to figure out where "KIN" came from. A whole lot of sites have written it as K.I.N., so I thought it was an acronym. However, Korean acronyms don't work the same as English ones do. (that's an interesting subject, to be honest)

    So I was in this great coffee shop and the barista sits down next to me to work on her own computer. I swung my own laptop around and asked if she could help me out. She thought I was really funny asking her about KIN, and she got out a pen and showed me what it was.

    The funny thing is: I used to teach children, and they would say "KIN" all the time. I knew exactly what it meant back then, and how it was spelled. I find it interesting that I didn't recognize it right away... perhaps because this time it was coming from adults.