Video Games and North Korea are two things that are not typically associated very closely with each other. While the like’s of Xbox, Playstation and online gaming have not broken into the country yet, that does not mean North Korea is totally devoid of any sort of video games or video game culture. Let’s take a look at the current video game scene in North Korea.
Much like the rest of the world, North Korean’s often turn to their smartphones for a quick video game fix. Since the rise of North Korea’s mobile network, Koryolink, in late 2008, smartphones have become increasingly more prevalent year by year to where now it is almost rare to find someone who does not currently own a smartphone. You will find many of the same types of video games that we play on our phones; however, they are usually domestically produced North Korean variants. Everything from an angry birds clone, Farmville clone and even a cute pet owner simulator game where you are in charge of feeding and taking your digital creature out for walks exists with more and more being released each day.
One of the most common questions people typically ask is, how do North Koreans get video games and apps on their smartphones? Around major cities in North Korea, you will find shops that are selling games and apps, and one simply goes to this shop with their smartphone, and whichever apps they like will be installed onto their phone.
Arcades in North Korea, much like in the west, were the first way that video games became accessible to the masses. Arcades in North Korea still remain quite common to this day, and some new ones have recently popped up around Pyongyang, such as the newly renovated Daesong Department Store and Pyongyang Golden Lane Bowling alley. Arcade classics are a universal language that we all speak and first-person shooters, racing simulators, and now virtual reality games are the most popular.
Much like smartphones, it is also becoming increasingly more common for Korean families to own PCs or laptops. There are a few North Korean made computer games, but by far, the most popular computer game is currently Counter-Strike. While lacking, for the most part, the ability to play online matches, offline games against the games AI is very popular.
And of course there was the (very) briefly popular Pyongyang Racer, the only JV North Korean game to be released in the west.
So there you have it! North Korea is not devoid of one of the world’s most popular past times.