Midnight curfew for kids’ online games is upheld

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Midnight curfew for kids’ online games is upheld

The Constitutional Court of Korea yesterday ruled that a controversial law that prohibits minors from playing online games after midnight is constitutional, disappointing the gaming industry, which hoped it would junk the rule.

The court ruled seven to two that the law was constitutional.

The policy, which went into effect in November 2011, prohibits children under the age of 16 from playing online games from midnight to 6 a.m. in order to curb game addiction among youths.

K-IDEA, an association that represents gaming companies, and several students and parents filed a petition with the Constitutional Court to challenge its constitutionality in 2011, saying the measure was discriminatory and also violates the minors’ right to pursue happiness.

Tapping into its advanced broadband infrastructure, Korea boasts a rich gaming culture with some professional gamers enjoying celebrity status.

Online game tournaments are even televised here.

But the popularity of gaming led some of parents to be concerned about addiction.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family proposed the law in 2011 and critics and game companies accused it of being too restrictive and harmful to the game businesses.

The rule does not apply to mobile games or certain games on social networking websites.

In case of a violation, a minor or online game company can face up to 10 million won ($9,630) in fines or a two-year jail sentence.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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