Desperate To Play Pokémon Go, Korean Gamers Travel North

[Images via Wiki Tree]
Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

There’s apparently only one place to play Pokémon Go in South Korea. This is it.

While it’s not officially out in the country, Inven (via tipster Sang) reports that it can be played in Sokcho and sent reporters there to make sure.

[image: Inven]
[image: Inven]

Elsewhere in the country it cannot be played, even through unofficial downloads, because it will not pick up a GPS signal and Pocket Monsters will not appear on maps.


Yet, the top images show Korean Pokémon Go players. They were taken last night by Korean site Wiki Tree.

In this tweet, you can see how South Korea is divided up into diamond-shaped areas, where it’s not possible to play Pokémon Go:

But it looks like Sokcho, located at the far northeast of the country, was a blindspot.

Perhaps Niantic created this grid because it doesn’t have near-term plans to release the game in South Korea? If so, there could be a good reason, because, as Sang points out, releasing it might be extra tricky because private Korean companies hold much of the country’s highly detailed mapping data.


In the meantime, here are Pokémon Go images from folks in Sokcho. Check out how many times they’ve been retweeted to get an idea of how much interest Korean gamers have:


And below is a video of people playing Pokémon Go at a park in Sokcho.

The Huffington Post Korea spoke with the mayor of Sokcho. He said he has become aware that it was possible to play Pokémon Go there and asked people to be safe if they intend to visit the city. The city’s Facebook page even posted a list of all the WiFi spots in Sokcho for visitors:

[Image via Facebook]
[Image via Facebook]

That brings us to... Herald Corporation (via tipster Sang) has been reporting that all the buses to Sokcho from Seoul were sold out yesterday. Another report stated that bus tickets to Sokcho were sold out through the weekend.

This is making the evening news in South Korea, with networks reporting how people can play Pokémon Go in South Korea:

[GIF via 연합뉴스 TV]

Which probably helped bus ticket sales.

And where there are excited people, there are also those looking to profit. These folks are offering to hatch eggs at 1 kilometer for a mere 1,000 won, which is around a dollar.


Gotta hatch ‘em all.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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There’s gotta be something muddled on the tech details of the story... Because Pokemon GO will happily work without GPS; even though it WILL occasionally drop down a little message saying ‘No GPS signal’, it’ll run just fine in ‘Power Saving’ location services mode.

Power Saving mode uses the position provided by celltower triangulation and wifi APs, so as to not have to run juice to the GPS receiver when perfectly accurate location info isn’t necessary. That’s what I run my game in 24/7 because otherwise it’d blow through my battery like it was a 1.5V coin cell.

(And because it uses the magnetometer/accelerometer in the phone to do some sort of ‘motion prediction’ between its reduced number of location updates, so if aim it to face a PokeStop, and shake the phone at a walking pace, I can ‘walk’ a good 10+ meters in that direction before it checks my actual position again...handy for getting the PokeStops that are JUST out of reach from my apartment.)