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SOAS seminar: The Video Game Industry in South Korea

The summer season of evening seminars at SOAS starts up again on 7 June:

The Video Game Industry in South Korea: Between National Destiny and Counterculture

Dr Chloé Paberz (CKS Visiting Scholar)
Friday 7 June 2019, 5:15 – 7:00 PM
SOAS, Brunei Gallery Room B103 | Register via SOAS website


South Korea’s image of modernity is closely associated with its state-of-the-art information technology, which has been praised and even labelled “national destiny”. This presentation examines the construction of Korean technical modernity, based on the ethnography of one of the many companies committed to the national project of digitalisation. In 2006, two friends created a small business in order to bring “a revolution in the field of education”. This revolution would be accomplished by a video game, that would later be played in more than a hundred schools around Seoul. The game is supposed to make it easier for pupils to learn the Chinese characters, which are known to be one of the most tiresome subjects of the mandatory syllabus. The ethnography reveals the many doubts of the actors regarding these official positions. It also shows the deep ambivalence of video games and information technologies, which are perceived as salutary and dangerous at the same time. Game professionals are very close to these machines, yet they criticize the purposes they serve: they strongly disagree with their company’s project as well as with national projects. We will see how they find meaning in their activity, how they build a counterculture of their own and how they pursue their dreams by engaging in multiple learning processes.

Speaker Biography

Chloé Paberz received her PhD in social anthropology from Paris Nanterre University in 2016. Her research focuses on the creative work processes of the emblematic objects of South Korean modernity. Her PhD thesis, based on the ethnography of a video game company, describes how creative workers manage the setbacks and frustration that occur during the process of designing a game. She is currently conducting research on how artists deal with the demand of creating “something Korean”, with a postdoctoral fellowship from the Korea Foundation at SOAS.

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