and Policy Perspective
- Dec. 13, 2004 Ung-gi Yoon1
MMORPGs (Massively-Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games; some of the most prominent titles are Lineage I, II2, Mabinogi, World of Warcaft (WoW)) have recently become an object of social and legal controversies of a previously unheard-of type. The phenomenon of trading ingame MMORPG items for real money has raised thorny issues on the ownership status of these virtual objects. This phenomenon has hardly escaped the people of South Korea, a frontrunner in the development of online games of this genre3 as well as their chief exporter.
Currently a judge in the Busan District Court, I am also a member of Gamestudy.org. MMORPG characters created and played by me include a Mabinogi character named “Ammajeongkal” at the Harp Server and a World of Warcraft character named “Trollvalor” at the Baelgoon server. E-mail:
I earned a MA in legal philosophy.
I wish to acknowledge a number of MMORPG developers, critics, journalists and legal scholars whose advice, direction and support have been instrumental in completing this article. I’m indebted to Soon-seong Kwon (a game producer at Nexon), Kang-yeol Kim (former vice president of ItemBay, a MMORPG game item auction site), Dong-geon Kim (Project Manager at Nexon heading its Mabinogi Development Team), Yong-seok Kim (Professor of philosophy at Youngsan University), Sang-beom Kim (board member of Nexon), Seong-woo Kim (Researcher at Samsung Electronics, specialized in HCI and ubiquitous networking), Jeong-joo Kim (founder and CCO of Nexon), Joo-yong Kim (game producer at Nexon), Ji-yeon Kim (website operator of Internet Self-regulated Forum (R3NET)), Taek-jin Kim (CEO of NcSoft), Jeong-gyeom Kim (computer programmer, MMORPG player (user ID: Aragon)), Hyung-jin Kim (head of the production team for Lineage II), Sang-woo Park (game critic, adjunct professor of media arts and communication at Yonsei...