Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Game Shopping in South Korea


South Korea is a cool place to live. It is where the new Gangnam Style song craze originated from, and the Korean movie industry is really becoming a powerful force internationally. Gaming is also really popular in South Korea, but mostly in PC-bangs (PC rooms) where people play games like Starcraft 2 and League of Legends by the hour. Console gaming is not a very popular past time with adults, so it is often dismissed as a childish hobby. Due to this reason, finding console games to buy for home use can be a real pain for foreigners.

A few of the bigger department stores have a small game selection such as the Lotte Mart and Home Plus chains throughout Korea. You will find a mix of slightly new games there, but don't expect any obscure classics or rare special editions. You will only see "hit" titles like Bio Hazard 5 and maybe Tekken 6, or a few console accessories like controllers and assorted cables...so that's about it for the department store selection. Also, Lotte Mart hides the game area in the "Toys R Us" portion of the store, so you may feel slightly embarrassed to shop there as a grown up.


 One of the best places to shop for electronics in Korea is the Yongsan Electronics Market located in the center of Seoul. The area is filled with tons of electronics, but do not expect much of a bargain in the I'Park mall (it is inside the Yongsan train station) as prices are usually fixed by the vendors. However, you can try to get deals in other areas as some of the outside vendors do speak English, and they will act more kindly in some cases if you speak basic Korean while smiling during the price negotiation process ( try this phrase "kaka juseo".) I got 9,000KW off of DJ Max Technika Tune this way.

If you walk outside of the Yongsan train station, you will see an underpass to your left. If you walk under this area and through a tunnel filled with silver panels that show various technology advancements (from the first computer to the Gameboy), you will eventually arrive on the other side, where a huge PS Vita sign should greet you about half a kilometer away. Underneath this sign is the real Asian video game market experience. Tons of vendors stock Asian, Japanese, and English games from all console eras. You can find cool stuff here like Neo Geo carts, Wonderswan games, and import titles for the latest gaming systems. I highly recommend this place, and some vendors speak English. Also, some vendors will take your old games in trade for new games.

Another great place to find games is the Kukje electronics store. It is a tower of electronics specialty shops located outside of the Nambu Bus Terminal train station in southern Seoul near Gangnam. The game stores are located on the 9th floor. This area is filled with anime merchandise, figurines, and import games. You can find some really rare stuff here ( I got the special edition of Under Defeat for PS3 from one vendor) and the stores will negotiate on some prices. This place is super hardcore, and frequented by dedicated otaku, it seems like a mini-Akihibara in Korea! You need to see the figurine selection alone, it is amazing.

 Military personnel have a few more options. The PX store carries a nice selection of games and it is tax free. You can buy American games here, so no need to worry about region coding bullshit. Also, some bases have Gamestop, so you can trade and buy used games just like the States. You won't find Asian games on base, but you can find a good selection of everything else. If you are not a soldier or family member of a soldier, you cannot shop on base, the PX is a perk reserved for men and women who serve in the Armed Forces. One other perk of being a soldier is the Class 6, you can find alcohol cheap there...trust me, I have been a soldier in Korea and a civilian, you will never find Jack Daniels cheaper than the Class 6 store (Koreans pay like 90,000 KW for one bottle!)


If you are a regular foreigner, and desperate for English games, try Play-Asia.com, they deliver to Korea. One other website to try is G-Market, it is the only Amazon style Korean website in English and they deliver everything including games. That about wraps up my game shopping advice so hopefully this helps someone looking for games in South Korea. If you know of any other awesome game stores in South Korea, please leave it in the comments sections.

Thanks for reading. Here is a nice KARA wallpaper for your PS Vita to celebrate the release of the Korean game, DJ Max Technika Tune.




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