South Korea: World’s Fastest Internet, PC Gaming Capital

Internet Speeds Getting Faster, Asia Leads the Way

Internet speed around the world continues to become faster as technologies advance. That is not a surprise. However the speed difference between a country like Korea and the United States are quite startling.

South Korea, who already has the fastest connection in the world, continues to increase their national internet speed at the fastest rate as well. Korea owns 6 of the top 10 fastest cities in Asia and as a country averages 14.6 Mbps. Compare that to the United States where only 4.4% of users are above 10 Mbps. Korea averages 14.6 Mbps. In Korea 45.6% of users have connections above 10Mbps. 75% are connected above 5 Mbps while only 24% of the United States is at that level.

Korea Japan Fastest Internet Speed Connection

#1 Korea, #2 Japan, #3 Hong Kong… #12 United States

Compared to 2009, the distribution of connections in South Korea has risen in all the high speed categories. 16% of South Korean users are above 25 Mbps compare to only 1.9% for Japan who falls second in these rankings.

Those Asians are fast aren't they!
Those Asians are very fast aren't they!

Why the huge gap in South Korea?

The primary reason South Korea sits so far ahead in terms of connection speed, is that Korea has the infrastructure to do so. Back in the late 1990s there was a nationwide focus on developing cutting edge technology. The government built out the infrastructure necessary to get the entire country on high speed broadband. In the United States you have to walk into a Starbucks with an AT&T account or Borders to get some free wifi. Connections are now available everywhere you go. It has become part of the culture and an expectation.

Another more interesting topic, and worth it’s own blog posting, is South Korea’s obsession with Internet Gaming. South Korea could easily be considered the gaming capital of the world. The “elite” of the PC gaming world are often full fledged celebrities as thousands gathers in stadiums to watch the elite play each other on a game of Starcraft. These tournaments are broadcast nationally on TV by five national channels dedicated solely to gaming. Believe it. 1% of all TV watched is accounted for by these channels. That is a lot of people!

South Korea - Starcraft Tournament
South Korea - Starcraft Tournament

Korea has five major leagues for professional Starcraft alone. All the elite gaming teams know if they want fame, they need to travel to Korea to compete in tournaments. These “clans” get corporate sponsorships and wear corporate logos as if they were about to enter into a nascar race. It has become a popular desire for high school boys to pursue a career in being a professional gamer just as boys would want to become a professional basketball player. Even the “commentators” on these networks have become full fledged celebrities just as famous sports commentators.

Some 26,000+ Net cafes and game rooms are found all over the nation where people can come to pay to play games in a room full of fast computers and fast connections. These cafes make up around $6 billion a year from visiting gamers.

With gaming so tightly integrated with Korean culture, it is not surprising that the demand for faster high speed internet continues to raise the bar in terms of internet connection speeds across the nation.

*image source:

  • What are your initial reactions to Korea’s whopping internet speeds?
  • What are your opinions about the Korean PC Gaming Industry?
  • How do you feel about the fact that Korean boys dream and seek to become celebrity gamers?
  • How about the fact that elite gamers are even considered celebrities, with endorsements, fans and immense fame?

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  1. I have known about professional gaming for some time, so the fact that Korea has the fastest internet in the world is not startling. What is, however, is that people would devoted their whole lives to a GAME. The same could be said about professional sports, which has a slew of problems in its own right, but something just doesn’t sit right about people devoting their lives to a video game. But of course, if people want it capitalist will exploit it.

    It is scary how video games are become an addiction amongst people today. Just this month a Korean couple neglected their baby to play video games. The baby died of starvation. The story can be read here: Korean Girl Neglected due to Game

    And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. You hear about people killing each other over video games; more and more video games are becoming like drugs. Yet, when I teen boy spends 10 hours a day playing games it is deemed “normal” by today’s society.

  2. I see this is a gaming site(?) so obviously it tries to relate everything to gaming. But I don’t understand what’s internet speed – done by ambitious government & private sector – got to do and gaming has to do with each other. It’s pretty dumb, don’t you think? Some country like to spend money to go to war & blow up things, then charge their own people to wipe up, while other country keen on invest on future technolgy & infrastructure. Capish?

    Yes, A neglected korean baby died by addicted parents, just like the things happening in any other crack house in Scottland, and God bless the poor baby’s soul. That kind of crap happens in all kinds of different society and times.

    A boy spends 10 hours in video game is “not normal” in Korean society (must be an anti-social & unemployed poor soul), I don’t know where in teh world you got that impression from… Perhaps in “fully-underemployed” California, maybe?

  3. Josh L! There is a leap in your logic.

    Idiots generalize when they speak.

  4. Korea has one of the most stringent education. Students go to school for a normal day, and many have Hagwon, or “cram schools” afterwards. They spend more time in school and studying than a majority of countries. I doubt it’s typical for a teen boy to have 10 hours a day playing games.

  5. I would like to know who the author of this article for the purpose of referencing it in my paper. Also, I think my prof would be interested in this site for his Pop Culture course he is teaching (and so I will direct him here). Cheers!

  6. South Koreans are obsessed with online gaming (think WoW) and China too is following suit. It is alarming, to say the least, to read about people (children as little as 8-10!) dying and suffering from severe physical and mental health issues because of online-gaming addiction.

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