S. Korea says 'no' to video game based on a U.S.-N. Korea conflict
November 24, 2004
SEOUL — South Korea’s Media Rating Board has refused to approve a new video game that bases its action scenarios on a U.S. conflict with North Korea.
As a result, the Korean company that was to distribute “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2” has decided not to release the game here. The game, ratings board members decided, goes “way too far” in its scenario.
“Ghost Recon 2,” a first-person shooter game from Red Storm Entertainment, part of France-based Ubisoft Entertainment, was released in the United States this month on some platforms, and in the near future on others, including PCs.
The game is or will be available from numerous online retail outlets.
The game’s scenario is rooted in a real-world, albeit somewhat unlikely, possibility. After a famine, a North Korean general diverts food aid to the military and slowly gains power. In response, China cuts off weapons sales and North Korea turns to Russia for a secret alliance.
The North Korean general takes over and invades China. Fearful of nuclear escalation, China seeks a multinational force to ease tensions on its border with North Korea. That’s where the game player — part of the Special Forces “ghosts” — goes in. The mission: Take out the North Korean general and stop the advance. The scenario is an inverted version of the mission U.S. servicemembers train for every day. Instead of an invasion to the south, North Korea heads north.
When a preview of the game was shown at a Los Angeles video game exhibition earlier this year, it provoked the ire of the real North Korean leadership.
“Through propaganda, entertainment and movies, [Americans] have shown everyone their hatred for us,” a North Korean government-run newspaper said. “This may be just a game to them now, but a war will not be a game for them later. In war, they will only face miserable defeat and gruesome deaths.”
In an e-mail interview earlier this year, one of Red Storm Entertainment’s game designers said the company seeks to create believable but fictitious story lines.
“When we developed the story background, we aimed at staying away from key current or specific events while still having a reasonable setting for a conflict,” Christian Allen wrote. “Thus the idea of a famine that drives hard-line military members to start a conflict was chosen as our story line.”
Past “Ghost Recon” settings have included the Georgian Republic, Ethiopia and Cuba, Allen wrote.
Game artists and designers do extensive research to ensure locations look and feel authentic, he said. A Chinese-American consultant helped verify authenticity, he said, and one of the game artists has a South Korean background.
Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this story.