After ten years, South Korea is ending its “shutdown law” that banned children under the age of sixteen years old from playing video games for a six-hour block after midnight.
Officially known as the Youth Protection Revision Act, the law was passed by the South Korean National Assembly in spring 2011. It went into effect that November.
At the time, the law was originally said not to impact consoles. However, as Kotaku reported at the time, Sony Computer Entertainment of Korea announced that it would be taking the PSN offline for underage players in compliance with the law. The law seemed aimed at PC online games, designed to ensure the country’s youth got at least six hours of sleep. However, both Sony’s and Microsoft’s gaming platforms were impacted. Companies that violated the law could be fined up to 10 million won ($8,560) and individuals even face two years in prison.
According to the South Korean government, China is the only other country that has government-controlled gaming hours. That’s changing, because as The Korea Herald reports, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has decided to abolish the law.
“For youths, games are an important leisure activity and communication channel,” said Culture Minister Hwang Hee. “I hope that the preventive measures can respect the rights of the youths and encourage healthy home education.”
The ministries say they will protect children through the “choice system,” which allows kids, their parents or their legal guardians the ability to request gaming permits for certain hours.
“In the changing media environment, the ability of children to decide for themselves and protect themselves has become important more than anything,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae (via The Korea Times.) “We will work with related ministries to systematically support media and game-use education at schools, homes, and in society so that young people can develop these abilities, and continue to make efforts to create a sound gaming environment and various leisure activities for children.”
The Korea Association of Game Industry supports the decision, saying, “The shutdown system has choked the nation’s game industry for a long time despite continuous criticism over poor effectiveness, infringement on children’s rights and weakening of the industry’s competitiveness.”
The decision requires that the previous youth protection act be revised, and the government aims to do so by the year’s end.