Nintendo DS may be the current hotspot for piracy in the world of games in Korea, but that certainly doesn't mean the practice is limited to Nintendo's handheld. As is true around the globe, all platforms that can be exploited are.
In line with this, PSP has its fair share of action, as does the Wii. Getting the little white box chipped in Yongsan generally runs the owner about 50,000 Won (just under $50 USD), and the going price for pirated games is 10,000 Won per disc.
It should be noted that the majority of those who pay for these copied discs are a very inexperienced and casual crowd of foreigners from the West - English teachers, soldiers, and students, mostly - who are unaware of the fact that they can download them from the net and burn them at home (or don't want to bother with doing so), which is exactly what the vendors are doing. For obvious reasons, said vendors don't share this information with customers.
Beyond this small group of foreigners, however, piracy on platforms other than DS is rather limited to the hardcore. This is likely a result of the fact that DS is the first platform in Korea, either home console or handheld, that has attracted a diverse audience made up largely of individuals who were never interested in games before.
PSP succeeded in breaking a bit of the ice, but DS really blew things wide open, and piracy quickly followed, spreading to all areas of the user base.
Nintendo, however, has shown itself determined to fight piracy the whole world over, and perhaps nowhere more fervently than in Korea. As widely publicized, NOK teamed up with the Korean government some time back to combat the R4 onslaught, and though a measure of success has reportedly been seen, the view from the street tells a different story.
Yongsan has been the company's main target in the real world, and as a result, shopkeepers are constantly on the lookout for undercover reps posing as customers.
Many shops have been busted in this way, but retailers have quickly banded together and adapted their tactics so as to avoid getting caught. A little caution evidently goes a long way, because the R4 is still available from virtually any game retailer in the entire district.
On the Internet, popular Korean sites for DS downloading are constantly in the crosshairs, and a number have been successfully shut down. As is the way of things in this day and age, though, they tend to pop up again elsewhere in no time flat, resulting in a situation where little real progress, if any, is ever made.
In Korea and all over the world, the real results of Nintendo's efforts remain to be seen. However, in light of the company's efforts to halt piracy here, and with the aforementioned attitude of the Korean public in mind, an interesting question presents itself:
If Nintendo somehow succeeds in stamping out piracy on its platforms to any meaningful extent, will Korean gamers simply flock to other systems on which the practice is more feasible, or will they fork over the cash to stick with the Big N?
With the current situation in mind, it seems unlikely that such a day will ever come. If and when it does, however, we may be able to see just how much Nintendo's products actually mean to gamers in Korea.
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