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366. Let’s Win the Game with Korean Characters!

Lee, Jeong-hyun 기자2017.05.11 15:35:55

    Nowadays, E-sports has become a part of the Korean wave, along with K-POP and Korean dramas. For most of the overseas game users, Korea is regarded as a powerful nation for video games. This is because Korean E-sports teams have almost always won the world tournaments, and there are famous pro-gamers such as Lim, Yo-hwan and Faker, who are the so-called gods of game. In order to attract Korean fans, many game corporations insert Korea-related contents into their games. When characters of the same nationality as game players are released in their favorite games, they feel proud and consider playing them at least once. Let’s see how some Korean characters and their features have changed in the popular games over the years.


1990s~2000s

Kim, Kap-hwan – The King of Fighters
    Originally, he was going to be named Kim Haifon, but this was changed because it wasn’t a viable Korean name. He is credited as the first ever fictional Korean character to appear in an arcade game and many gamers call him by his last name, Kim. As you can see from his costume, his fighting skill is based on Taekwondo. In the game, Kim is considered a national sport hero in his country. He is the leader of the Korea-Team and spends time trying to rehabilitate his two team mates, Chang Koehan and Choi Bounge, from their criminal lives. One of his defining characteristics is his strong, inherent sense of justice. In addition, it is interesting that his birthplace is Daegu, where KNU is located.


Hwoarang – Tekken

    Hwaorang first appeared in Tekken 3, and returned in all subsequent games. He is the Taekwondo student of Baekdoosan who is a character of the same game. While Baekdoosan boasts his fast speed and uses foot skills of Taekwondo, Hwoarang uses slightly heavier foot techniques that are slower than his mentor. Hwoarang appears as a rival of the main character Jin Kazama, but he is not a character that receives big attention. He is often called cheap due to the fact that he will usually kick and rarely punches. This resulted with people only mashing his kick buttons. However, most players consider him as one of the hardest characters to learn as he has a high number of stances and thus needs to be analyzed properly.


2010s

Song, Hana (D.Va) – Overwatch

    Overwatch has risen to become the most popular FPS game in Korea in recent years. Moreover, this game has recently been broadcast on the popular entertainment TV program ‘Infinite Challenge (Muhandojeon)’ and has attracted even more attention. Song, Hana is one of the 23 heroes and serves as a tank in the game. In the game, she is a former professional gamer of StarCraft 6. She won four consecutive StarCraft 6 championships at the age of 16. She is also a character who shows that Blizzard Entertainment (developer and publisher of Overwatch) thinks Koreans always win the championships. She may fight without the robot D.Va, but she can also protect the allies by boarding D.Va and attacking the enemies by self-destruction. In addition, she has some Korean style skins (costumes), such as Hanbok and the Korean Olympic National Team’s uniform.


Sejong – Civilization V

    Civilization is a turn-based strategy game in which each player chooses one of the 18 countries and successfully operates the nation according to the rules. This game was once known as the most addictive game in the world and became popular through social media. Sejong is the leader of the Koreans in the game. He speaks Middle Korean, with a distinguishable South Korean accent. Sejong is seen sitting on a chair in the throne room at Gyeongbokgung Palace with a book in his hands. He usually goes for a scientific victory and tends to raise a rather small offensive army but a large defensive army consisting mostly of ranged units. On the other hand, he has strong offensive power when fighting on island maps, as his navy and Turtle Ships are good at fending off attacks.


Ahri – League of Legends
    League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games. It is also the most popular game in Korea along with Overwatch. Ahri is a Korean character launched in celebration of the League of Legends released in Korea. She is a character based on the legend of the nine-tailed fox and is from Ionia (Asia). In the game, her primary role is mage and she can fascinate her opponents by blowing a kiss. She also has dynasty and Pop-Star skins (costumes) that symbolize her Korean identity.


    These days, Korean characters still have a traditional culture in the big frame, but the use of machines seems to be a new feature. Perhaps, the image of Koreans who play games well is naturally connected to a concept of characters handling machines well. Furthermore, Korean characters not only use Taekwondo, but also have features with various fields such as K-POP and Korean history. This means that the image of Korea is changing internationally. Some people are critical, saying that existing Korean characters do not perfectly portray Korea because they do not show the Korean tradition. However, it is clear that the characters of Korean nationality have a positive impact on our national image and awareness.

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