The popularity of augmented-reality Pokemon Go around the world has generated crowds of people in parks and other public places as users search for monsters to train, but with temperatures well below freezing, there was no sudden, noticeable buzz on the streets of Seoul.
“We have waited very long and worked very hard to launch Pokemon Go in South Korea,” said Lim Jae Boem, the chief executive of Pokemon Korea.
The game was jointly developed by Nintendo and Niantic Inc.
Six months after release, Pokemon GO has finally landed in South Korea
We have waited very long and worked very hard to launch Pokemon Go in South Korea
Lim Jae Bon, Pokemon Korea
Pokemon Go relies on Google Maps to work. But in most of South Korea those functions have been limited by the government, which is technically still at war with North Korea, for national security reasons.
Neither Niantic nor Pokemon Korea specified how they managed to work around the Google Maps challenge.
“We used various publicly accessible data sources,” said Dennis Hwang, art director of Niantic Inc.
The game relies on Google Maps, but due to security reasons, the service is limited in the country
Pokemon Korea chief executive Lim Jae Bon was thrilled about the release
There was a slight hitch in the morning when the game was unavailable for download, but that was soon cleared up.
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“Pokemon Go officially launched its service in South Korea today. The popularity has died down but I'm going to do it.” said an enthusiastic Shin Seung-woo on Facebook.
South Korea is the world's fourth-biggest gaming market after China, the United States and Japan, according to Amsterdam-based research firm Newzoo.
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In July fans of the game played it close to the North Korean border where it was available
In July, some impatient Pokemon fans rushed to Sokcho, a city close to the border with North Korea – an area where the game can be played as it has not been classified as South Korean territory in Google Maps data.
Nintendo's stock was down nearly half a percent at 0430 GMT.