South Korea’s President Wants to Take on Nintendo

Lee Myung-bak (left), President of South Korea, wonders why his nation can’t build video game hardware to compete with Nintendo. During a visit to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy this week, Lee said:

A lot of our elementary school children have Nintendo game machines. Why can’t our companies develop products like that?

Lee’s comment sparked derision from Korean game industry types, reports the Korea Times. Park Sang-hoon, an exec with GamePark, maker of the Linux-based GP2X handheld, said:

The lack of [game] content is evident, as we don’t have many companies here with the personnel and financial capability to develop games, and the open-source model is our best bet for the short term.

It would be great if the software industry here was healthy enough to produce a lot of games, which would drive up the sales of handheld consoles and introduce more products onto the market. However, as a latecomer, we have the difficulty of proving our products first and securing third parties later.

An unnamed mobile games developer added:

Talking about Nintendo is out of touch, when you consider that the local software market is virtually on life-support. Piracy and lack of quality personnel has killed the vibrancy of the Korean software market, and I wonder whether the government has ever been serious about fostering the country’s software industry. It’s telling that most of the computers at government agencies rely on pirated software.

Another exec also slammed Lee’s government:

You don’t have the right to be daydreaming about Nintendo, when Korean online game firms, which are actually doing well overseas, feel they could do better if the government wasn’t biting at their ankles.

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