Let’s Take A Trip To Yongsan, It’s Like Korea’s Akihabara

By Spencer . September 7, 2012 . 7:21pm

Yongsan sits in the heart of Seoul and it is essentially the Akihabara of South Korea. The electronics market is lined with computer parts, digital cameras, and video games. Tons of video games, but we have to get there first and navigating Yongsan is kind of like walking through one of Etrian Odyssey’s labyrinths.

 

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The journey begins walking through a tunnel that doubles as a tribute to vintage electronics. Plaques for various predecessors, the Commodore 64, and original iPod line the walls. Technology milestones are written on the ground.

 

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Hey, there’s a Game Boy too! Hyundai partnered with Nintendo to release the Game Boy as the Hyundai Mini ComBoy. The VCR style NES was the original Comboy.

 

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Outside of the tunnel we were greeted by a giant PlayStation Vita ad. Yeah, this is the right place! This is one of two underground malls in Yongsan that specialize in video games.

 

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Ubisoft and Namco Bandai ads welcome shoppers. Namco Bandai has a strong distribution arm in South Korea and actually handle Square Enix’s releases like Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Sleeping Dogs.

 

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Kiosks are filled with modern games, but games don’t have a fixed price. It’s up to each vendor to decide what they want to sell their games for and if your Korean skills are up to par you can bargain a little.

 

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There are a few Korea-only console games like:

GloRace: Phantastic Carnival – it’s like Mario Kart for PSP, but all of the tracks are Rainbow Road

Vulcanus – a mecha game for PSP

Pump it Up – a port of the arcade for PSP dancing game sans dance pad

MapleStory DS – an offline action RPG take created by Nintendo & Nexon

Magic Hanja – a Hanja (Chinese character) teaching game from Skonec

SuperStar – one of the few Korean exclusives for Xbox 360, it’s a karaoke game

Axel Impact – a PS2 racing game

Come on Baby – a mini game collection for PS2 that’s kind of like Bishi Bashi

Another weird fact – Konami released Oz aka The Sword of Etheria in Europe as Chains of Power in Korea. North America for whatever reason was the only region that missed out on the action game which some of Suikoden’s staff worked on.

 

While some kiosks focus on the present, others specialize in the past.

 

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Hard to find games like Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, Super Mario RPG, Strider for Genesis, and boxed Dragon Quest games are available. That copy of Treasure Hunter G from Sting and Square Enix was under $20 and it included the instruction manual.

 

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The same retailer had NeoGeo MVS (Multi Video System) arcade chipsets too.

 

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Boxes of retro games including a graveyard of Sonic Classics carts. Hyundai used to distribute Sega’s games too and they’re all here in Yongsan! Why didn’t console games catch on? On top of buying additional hardware, the games were not localized into Korean which made them less accessible. Compare that to today when massive RPGs like Persona 4: Golden are translated into Korean and heavily promoted by Sony Computer Entertainment Korea.

 

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Handheld systems like the Nintendo DS got a big boost from celebrities like Girls Generation who promoted the system.

 

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Huh… those Gam Brothers look pretty familiar…

 

Yongsan also has pirate game Famicom carts – the weird kind with Halo on the cover and Mario photoshopped onto Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers.

 

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Let’s take a closer look at those carts, shall we?

 

Hero Story, Hero Dunk, and Dodge? Count me in! Sonic 5 where Sonic plays Santa Claus? Awesome.

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I really want to know what Fatal Fox is…

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Yeah, that’s Pokémon: Silver and Pokémon: Gold for the Famicom. Neither cart worked so we weren’t able to find out what hacked games these are.

 

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And of course, there is was one DJMax Portable 2 Orpheus package.


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  • http://epiclyamazing.wordpress.com/ AzureNova

    I wish to travel there one day =)

  • brian yep

    I know at least a couple of those exclusives (Maple Story DS and Vulcanus) were also released in japan.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/Ojsinnerz Firo_Prochainezo

    Awww man! I should’ve gone there myself when I was at Korea last year. I got to visit COEX and Insadong, but didn’t think a place like this existed. From talking to my relatives, they all just told me COEX was the place to go.

    • Adoxographist

      Really not that much to see there. Everyone sells the same stuff right next to each on several different floors in 5 story malls, except there are multiple malls right next to each other selling the same stuff, its more for digital goods then games. I bought my laptop there and they told me they get more sales from Chinese, Philippians. And those guys sell online too so no point going there in person unless you go to offices there like HP, Western Digital etc so you can get warranty there.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    Lol You just got to love bootleg games and consoles and mostly all of them play Nes roms or bad 8-bit ports of 16-bit games XD. anywho…. Man I would love to Take A Trip there my wallet would be crying all the way home. 

  • Noba boba

    Korea’s Akihabara? Interesting, but why No H-material? ;<

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M3KUOAZM2DCVORWN2GJUM5PKJA Waifoong

       Haha, Nice one dude XD

  • DesmaX

    Looks like paradise

  • SeventhEvening

    I have drunkenly wandered through that tunnel many times. It’s strange to see areas so close to home on Siliconera

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LSXK6H5DIAWZWFQ252ZC3XIUGM .

    I want that DJ MAX 2 Orpheus Package!! That aside, I remember so many knock off genesis and snes cartidges in Asia (Hong Kong and Phillpines). In comparison I believe its illegal to rent games in Japan?  Its funny thinking back now when I had no idea what fake knock off pirated products were and wondered why certain ones were so cheap and others were very expensive.

  • Maia Kasoya

    Bootlegs and fake games is what comes to mind whenever I think of video games in countries like Korea and China… No offense. But it’s nice to know there are genuine and real games too.

  • Ricewarrior

    Damn you region lock…

  • Zexill

    Mother of god… A haven in Korea for games… I shall journey there… 

  • 果林

    this place doesnt have the spark akihabara seems to have from the pictures.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Denechka Haohmaru HL

    those pirated famicom games! i live in russian and in we never had licensed famicom games, only such pirated carts, so sad :C

  • Ayin Sifr

    Ah, this place is actually better than Akihabara. You can negotiate prices there, and here’s much better chance of finding english-language games there than in akiba. I visited both places and the price difference is clear.

    • Adoxographist

      They give you cheaper prices if you pay in cash as well. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dylan-Ng/100000854638739 Dylan Ng

    Wow. I assume each country have a “Akihabara” somewhere?? (I actually can think of one in my country lol)

  • http://truner.beluva.hu/ Truner Razer

    More posts like this!
    Jesus, I loved reading through this. So many awesome stuff on the pictures.
    On minor mistake, MapleStory DS got a Japanese release this year.

  • http://twitter.com/Nephlabobo Neal Power

    I was just there this afternoon.  :D

  • thaKingRocka

    I’ll have to check this place out if I ever visit Korea. Very cool. :)

  • CirnoLakes

    And someone told me the other day “Koreas only can play and afford online games. Game stores don’t exist in Korea and stores don’t sell games.”

  • kangms872

    recently changed.

    now, Korea’s Akihabara is Kukje electronics center. (
    http://www.kecday.co.kr )

  • Göran Isacson

    My God. It’s like bootleg heaven- I think I’d like to go there just to buy a ton of cheap, malfunctioning cartridges JUST FOR THE SAKE OF HAVING THEM.

    That’s probably why I seldom have much money to spend.

  • Kevin

    Braving this place gets you into gamer’s Valhalla, or at least that’s what I think the the clerk was trying to tell last time I visited.  He might have just been selling tiger blood though, need to work on my Korean.

  • Zero Shift

    Awesome. I’d like to visit that store some day. Looks like they have tons of retro and collector’s stuff.

  • Josh Dimkoff

    I’m trying to locate this place.  What is the address and name of the mall?  Is there a subway stop nearby?

    • Enma_Kozato

      The IPark Mall itself has a train station inside it. The subway stop is Yongsan on blue line 1.

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