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South Korea is axing its game curfew for minors

South Korea is axing its game curfew for minors

August 25, 2021 | By Bryant Francis

The South Korean government has announced its intent to roll back the country’s decade-old gaming curfew for young players. The ban should be lifted by the end of the year.

Per The Korea Herald, this decision comes from the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. Eliminating the curfew will require modifying the Youth Protection Act in the country’s National Assembly.

Under the law, developers who offered game services to players under the age of 16 between the hours of Midnight and 6 AM could be fined up to 10 million won (about $8,560), or be sentenced to prison time.

Some developers, like the team behind Minecraft, chose to alter its account system in South Korea to allow adult-only accounts rather than risk the legal consequences. News of the rollback has won support from the Korea Association of Game Industry.

The country will still support some regulations for preventing excessive gaming among younger players. The Culture Ministry will apparently be relying on a “choice permit system” that’s been around since 2012, which allows underage players, their parents, or a legal guardian request a permit to designate specific hours for playing games.

The sunsetting of the curfew apparently comes after a decade of South Korean youth culture working diligently to find other forms of entertainment not restricted between the hours of Midnight and 6AM.

Not only were mobile games never included in the curfew restrictions, but streaming personalities, webcomics, video platforms, and just general social media were all forms of entertainment that kept South Korea’s young users up into the wee hours of the morning.

Up until now, South Korea and China had been the only two nations to restrict young players’ gaming hours at the legislative level, both drawing on different lines of thinking and concerns about the impact of extended play sessions on young users.

China’s tightening of those restrictions has drawn multiple headlines over the last few years, and most recently their expansion was blamed for the poor opening-day performance of PUBG Battlegrounds developer Krafton on the South Korean stock market.

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