The shutdown system, an evil law that has regressed the South Korean game industry for 10 years, will finally be abolished from 1st JAN. As a result, teenagers can enjoy PC online games all the time.
As part of the revision of the Youth Protection Act comes into effect from January 1, 2022, the so-called ‘Shutdown system’, which prohibits the provision of Internet games to teenagers under the age of 16 from 0:00~6:00, will be abolished.
The major changes in the revised bill promulgated on December 7 are as follows. Restrictions on the time limit for providing late-night Internet games to youth under the age of 16 and removal of penalties for violations, and addition of support for services such as counseling, education, and treatment for adolescents and their families addicted to Internet games.
As a result, the ‘shutdown system’, which took effect on 20th November, 2011 in South Korea, will be abolished for the first time in 10 years. The 'game time selection system', in which parents and children voluntarily control game play time, will be maintained. This system is governed by the Game Act.
The government has drastically changed the gaming environment over the past 10 years, as mobile games that are not subject to the shutdown system have replaced PC games. In June, the improvement of the shutdown system was selected as a regulatory challenge task, and effective youth protection measures were reviewed from the beginning.
The government started reviewing the shutdown system from scratch in June 2021. This is because the aspect of enjoying games has changed significantly over the past 10 years with the share of mobile games, which was not subject to the shutdown system, have risen rapidly. In addition, the fact that the media available to young people late at night has diversified into SNS, OTT, and YouTube also influenced this decision.
In particular, the shutdown system hasn’t been improved despite the government's efforts to rationalize regulations several times.
Regarding the abolition of the shutdown system, Vice Minister of Gender Equality and Family Kim Kyung-sun said, “The system has been improved in a way that guarantees the youth’s right to self-determination and the right to autonomously choose within the family when using games. We will expand game use education and information provision in cooperation with relevant ministries.”
The game industry has been expressing preparations for this since last week. In particular, if you log in on December 31 and move on to January 1, the shutdown system may be temporarily applied, so it is recommended that you reconnect to the game after the date has passed.
What is left now is the game time selection system, so called ‘selective shutdown system’. Guardians can limit the game use time of minors under the age of 18 by game, and it contains information such as identity verification and parental consent when signing up for membership, and regular notice of game use time to guardians.
Domestic companies have created a separate system and are accepting the selection system, but overseas companies are providing services exclusively for adults because only Korea cannot make a separate system.
Domestic companies have created a separate system and are applying the game time selection system. However, overseas companies cannot create a system to verify age only in South Korea, so there are cases where they only provide services to adults.
So even at 1st JAN, 'Minecraft' in South Korea is still only available to users 19 years of age or older to purchase and use. Some lawmakers are pushing for the abolition of the selective shutdown system.
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