North Koreans Are Playing Grand Theft Auto And Having LAN Parties, Say Defectors

This is a North Korean tank skin created by kandy0205.
This is a North Korean tank skin created by kandy0205.
Image: Kandy0205 (GTA5 Mods)

Previously, Kotaku showed inside North Korean arcades. But what do people play at home? According to one fourteen-year-old North Korean defector, young people are playing some of the same games enjoyed in the outside world.


“I played almost all of the most famous South Korean video games in North Korea... Every one of my friends has played foreign video games,” the teenage defector told Daily NK (via The Korea Times).

“All kids learn about the game and play it once it is carried on a USB stick and hits the streets.”

Specifically, the article mentions games like Grand Theft Auto 5 and FIFA Online circulating in North Korea. First-person shooters like I.G.I.2 are also popular. There is speculation that the games enter the hermit kingdom via China.

Another defector was quoted as saying LAN parties are also being held in North Korea. To avoid being caught, he said that players are changing the file names. “The authorities don’t actively go after players of foreign computer games, and it’s easy to change the filename extension of the document to mp3 .avi .doc .jpg, etc. in order to hide it in plain sight,” he said.

“People aren’t worried about getting caught playing foreign games because the authorities are focused on cracking down on South Korean movies and dramas.”

[Thanks Sang for the tip!]

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


gina molinari

The DPRK has a large middle class that’s continuing to expand. Internet access (relying on Chinese telecoms infrastructure) is a mainstream thing among urban populations and plenty of people know how to use a VPN. This isn’t news and it isn’t surprising.

Also “the hermit kingdom” is racist as fuck. You know that the North Korean state and the North Korean civilian population are two separate entities, right? Kinda like every other country on earth.