Gaming is big business in Korea, considering both export value (income to Korean gaming hubs exceeds USD 1 billion per year) and local economics (the monies earned by PC bangs--you never see folks in there just checking their email, or printing something off real quick, it's mind-numbing hours of Starcraft or WOW).
Industry sources say while the curfew will not affect the revenues of game publishers in the short term, it will certainly harm the image of the companies in the local and overseas market.
“The mandatory shutdown system is unconstitutional and allows the government to rule over families,” said the Korea Association of Game Industry in a statement. “It’s regrettable how [the system] has branded game publishers as those with ill intentions like those making drugs.”
While the 'Nanny state' issue may be worthy of debate, more problematic is the matter of enforcement--it is a simple matter for teens to use their parents' registrations or buy them from other people to get around the midnight curfew.
PC bang owners have other things to worry about besides checking IDs, especially with the Ministry of Health and Safety set to impose a nationwide smoking ban on billiard halls and PC bangs, according to a Herald article.
2) The government "envisions" free mandatory kindergarten for all children by 2016, according to the Herald. At a time when the US is actively defunding its education infrastructure, apparently because taxes are out of hand (NOTE: US income taxes are at historic lows--your taxes have never, ever been this low!), Korea is actively doing just the opposite. To the current nine years of free, compulsory education, they want to add a tenth: in Korea, you pay to attend high school (years 10-12), though Seoul's new government substantially decreased the rates last year.
The government-developed common curriculum will be used in kindergartens and daycare centers alike, according to the plan.
About 400,000 of the nation's 435,000 children who turn 5 next year, or about 91 percent, will benefit from the policy.
Children who are educated at home or at high-cost educational facilities, including English language institutes, will not receive the subsidy, but officials expect the expansion of state support will encourage more low- and middle-income parents to send their children to kindergartens or daycare centers.
The government will revise related laws in the second half of this year to give a legal guarantee to the new system, officials said.
3) Koreans’ TOEFL ranking drops, sez the headline. Interestingly, the average score of 81 remained constant from 2009 to 2010, but ranked 80th of 163 countries. In 2009, Korea was 71st of 157 countries.
The Netherlands topped the list with an average score of 100 followed by Denmark with 99 and Singapore with 98.
India and Philippines are also high among Asian countries, ranking 19th and 35th, respectively.
North Korea ranked 96th, China 105th, Thailand 116th, Japan 135th and Saudi Arabia 153rd.
The international average score in 2010 is 80 with 20.1 in reading section, 19.5 in listening, 20.7 in writing and 20 in speaking.
In case you wondered.