South Korea About to Create a Black Market for Imaginary Things


The next Al Capone

In an attempt to tamp down on teenage crime, South Korea is about to ban and criminalize trading virtual items in online games. Via Gamasutra:

Authorities in South Korea plan to introduce a new law next month that will ban all virtual item trading and virtual item harvesting, as it says game item trading is one of the causes of teenage crime in the country.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is set to announce the details of the law next month, in a bid to encourage students not to waste time gathering virtual currency.

The law will also cover programs that some users utilize to automatically harvest items in online games without the need for the player to be present, covering the use of gold bot farming. The ministry estimates that over 60 percent of virtual items exchanged online in Korea are obtained via these automatic programs, reports The Korea Times.

Those who violate the law face fines and up to five years in prison.

Many of these games (World of Warcraft for example) have rules against trading in-game items for real world money, already creating a shadow economy that didn't even need the weight of the law to fuel it. In China, corrupt prison guards even forced inmates to do the labor for them.

Now, though, criminalizing the activity will create a real black market in South Korea and the potential for even more prohibition-fueled problems.

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  1. Psst… hey kid! Wanna play a video game?

  2. Hey, the South Koreans finally found something to ban that NEVER occurred to Nanny Bloomberg.

    I’ll bet he’s facepalming as we speak.

    1. It’s like Bloomberg’s NYC, only it’s a country instead of a single city. Way to go, Korea. Kindly go fuck yourselves, Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. You’ve managed to out-retard even progressive big-city mayors in the US.

    2. Ministry of Culture…has nice ring to it. I’m sure Bloomberg is taking notes.

      1. So is Obama. He needs to beef up his control over the people, after all.

        But not until after the election.

  3. After how many thousands of years viewing the results of attempts to ban human behavior resulting in destructive effects of black markets, I can only conclude that humans are definitely either nowhere near as smart as we like to think; human group interactions inevitably result in groupthnk and poor decisions; or we as a species are collectively insane.

    And yes, I know the above reads as if I have been personally monitoring human activity for thousands of years. Prove I haven’t.

  4. Anyone who’s played an MMORPG knows who or who isn’t buying their vorpal swords online. The guy is decked out in the latest raid gear and armed with the legendary sword Cuisanart, yet he makes Leroy Jenkins look like a thoughtful and strategic player.

    I can understand the antipathy towards those who bought their gear with cash instead of grinds, but to me it doesn’t make any difference if they bought their gear from a goldfarmer for through the official MMO company store.

    You want to get rid of goldfarming? Get rid of the grind! Oh, and most of your raids are actually grinds in themselves.

    1. Everybody buys their gear, either with time or with money. The bias against buying stuff is just because a lot of the player base has such low productivity that they have a the comparative advantage when time is the only option, and they are trying to disguise their personal interests as a moral principle.

      1. It’s all tied back to the real world, and real life is what tou pay with, either in ticks of the clock in-game, or with money earned by selling your precious ticks to someone else in real life.

        1. It’s a bit different than that. The people who spend ten hours a day in the game are resentful of folks that only only show up for a few hours on the weekend, yet have the same gear.

          I used to play one MMO hardcore, but finally recognized the grind was not fun. The rewards just weren’t worth the effort. Not just raid preparation, but the whole game. “Go collect me 100 orc ears! Not small orc ears, but not too large orc ears. And they have to be blue. Go, adventurer! Go bring me those ears and I will then give you your next pointless task!”

    2. Um – what?

    3. I love toons that buy high priced items instead of working for them. It makes it so much easier for me to acquire those items by ganking them.

  5. Here in America we will probably make it into a welfare program. We will declare that poor people have a equal right to imaginary items and we start some huge program to give out free imaginary items, which they will probably then trade for real drugs.

    1. Ironically it’s poor people who hate real money trade in virtual items.

      The guys who play these games for 40+ hours a week are generally not at the top of the socioeconomic ladder; kids, the underemployed, college students. They have plenty of time to earn their crap and they hate it when people who have more money than time can use money to save time. It undercuts the sense of achievement they get from being the 1% in their MMO of choice. The guys who are buying this crap want to play the game but aren’t crazy enough to waste 40 hours a week on it. They just want to spend so cash so they can enjoy the actual fun parts of the game (which is relatively small). I’m sure there are exceptions to that dynamic, as with any stereotype, but that’s generally what is going on.

  6. You can have my Falmveer when you can ply my cord, dead hands from it!

    Fuck off, Sraver!

  7. In an attempt to tamp down on teenage crime, South Korea is about to ban and criminalize trading virtual items in online games

    Jeebus f’in Christo. Not even the entire lineage of the Kim Jong despot dynasty came up with that one yet. Congrats, South, you are going to outdo those commies to the north, yet.

  8. it says game item trading is one of the causes of teenage crime in the country.

    Um… right. How, exactly?

    1. They have their own version of the commerce clause! A virtual commerce clause! What visionaries they be!

    2. ::draws gun::
      Your login or your life!

  9. So I went on a business lunch with this guy named Lars a while back. Me (demographic obvious), Lars (Scandinavian), and some LA based equipment suppliers (Asian). The lunch table conversation went off the geeky engineering track for a bit and Lars blurts out ‘Asians don’t drink or fornicate, but they gamble like demons’.

    1. Asians don’t drink or fornicate? He has never been to Asia or Maryland, I see.

      1. Alcoholism is lower among Asians that other ethnic/racial groups. As far as fornication (fucking for pleasure only) goes, I don’t know, but Asians are socially conservative wrt birth and raising children. And they do gamble like demons.

        “He has never been to Asia or Maryland”

        Have you ever been to a Los Angeles casino?

        1. I lived in L.A. for 5 years, but I was too young to visit a casino, and I still do not gamble, except in business, and investing. Drink and fornicate… well, I am Libertarian.

          Asians are crazy as hell, at least the Americanized ones and the Japanese, and the ones I know do plenty of that drankin an fornicatin.

      2. Asians love drinking, they just can’t hold their booze well. I spent a summer in Shanghai with a bunch of Chinese grad students. They took me out for a dinner and decided to attempt to drink me under the table with their endless toasting. By the end of it I was laughing as they were pass out drunk and I was just getting started. Not their fault they just have less alcohol enzyme than even our womenfolk.

        1. This could be due, in general, to their small body mass as compared to westerners. I have known a couple of Asians, although a little bigger than your typical Asian, that can drink a lot, and I mean a LOT! And I had a friend, back in Cincy, Korean… I know the kid could not have weighed more than 130 lbs., and I drank beer more than a few times with him all night, and you could not drink the guy under the table, he would just keep going…

          1. That’s a scholar’s chore to figure out why Europeans have a better tolerance for alcohol than Asians. Just to spitball, I suggest that Europeans discovered that alcohol acted as a disinfectant. Sailing ships didn’t stock grog just to keep the seamen drunk and compliant. A barrel of grog stayed potable when a barrel of water alone went stale.

          2. Nope, I said enzyme on purpose. Asians are far more likely to have a defect in one of the alcohol digesting enzymes. Of course not all do so your friend likely has normal enzymes.

            Alcohol flush reaction

            Additionally women have lower expression of some of the enzymes as well.

            Obviously individuals don’t necessarily follow the trends but an Asian woman is the most likely to have a low tolerance for alcohol, regardless of her body mass.

  10. Just imagine a world in which you could be convicted of a virtual crime, and be sentenced to time in the real world. Wow, a statists wet dream.

    Visualize, if you can, an army of mini-me Bloombergs running around in the virtual world looking for something to ban…

    1. To be fair, there are quite a few gold farmers who are actually committing crimes (hacking people’s accounts to rob them). While I’m not sure how banning bot farming will impact something that is already a crime anyway, given the special mental handicaps legislators work under this law is nearly on target.

  11. Nothing new. Our monetary system has been “virtual” for decades, and there’s plenty of people rotting in jail for imaginary things.

  12. I think South Korea would feel better if it was tucked between Mississippi and Alabama.

  13. Sometimes you just have to hit it on up dude. Wow.

  14. Beyond bizarre, and the only justification the government offers is that it prevents children from wasting time. Why not take it a step further and ban all computer games in South Korea to stop them “wasting time”.

  15. Diablo 3, OTOH, has been going in the opposite direction by introducing a Real Money Auction House as well. (They take a vig.)

    Blizzard decided that too many people were using shady black markets.

  16. I always love when I see government “solutions” to problems that were created by the government in the first place. Its a never ending cycle: government decides to “fix what works with what sounds good”, unintended consequences ensue, government takes steps to fix those consequences, ad infinitum. In this case, through a series of hilarious missteps, the government has made it near impossible for a large portion (possibly a majority) of American men to have a fruitful long term relationship with a woman. So they turn instead to World of Warcraft and porn for their “dopamine and status fix.” So instead of fixing the problem by, idk, stop incentivizing divorce, the government chooses to restrict people’s access to World of Warcraft.

    I’ve stopped hoping to live long enough to see a government truly dedicated to freedom, and have replaced that hope with something which I thing is a lot more realistic. Now I simply wish that our fascist overlords would be honest about their theft.

    1. Govt behavior seems irrational and stupid only if you buy their stated claim of acting to solve problems.

      If you view it as a parasite, it is completely rational. And also why a govt dedicated to freedom is a contradiction.

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