Pokemon Go in South Korea

Yesterday, the bus tickets to Sokcho (a city close to the border with North Korea) were almost sold out. The news about Pokemon Go was rapidly spread out to people in Korea through various social media. Actually, it was impossible to play that game because of some issues of using Google maps in South Korea. But, Pokemon is found in Sokcho!!!

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As you can see the map above, the yellow areas are restricted to play Pokemon Go but the pink triangle zone (Sokcho) is the only location that people do catch Pokemon in South Korea. Sokcho is too close to the border of North Korea, so some experts explained that Sokcho has not been classified as South Korea territory. Luckily (maybe?) we are now allowed to play Pokemon Go in South Korea but we have to go to Sokcho to play it. It takes almost 3 hours by car or bus from Seoul to Sokcho. But people are now heading to Sokcho to meet Pokemon through using their smartphones.

In accordance with the global Pokemon Go fever, the city hall of Sokcho prepared the Pokemon special package hastily. It provides the map of free wifi zone for Pokemon Go players who visit Sokcho city on its Facebook page and Twitter account. (see https://www.facebook.com/dreamsokcho/) Also there is a Pokemon Go team page (https://pokemongoclankorea.herokuapp.com) that allows Korean Pokemon Go players to join three different team group from all over the world to share information about Pokemon Go such as game tips.


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Free wifi map by Sokcho city

And the social commerce such as Tmon (ticketmonster.co.kr) sells the special shuttle bus package from Seoul to Sokcho for Pokemon Go hunters. People can purchase cheaper price of shuttle bus tickets through this social commerce website by using their smartphones.


Tmon’s special shuttle bus package for Pokemon Go in Sokcho, image from (www.ticketmonster.co.kr)

My timeline of Twitter is now all about Pokemon Go in Korea. It’s been only 1 day since people have found Pokemon Go is available in South Korea (Sokcho). There will be more stories and photos will be coming continuously for sure. So far, it is very interesting and exciting to see this unexpected AR (augmented reality) mobile game phenomenon in South Korea because we couldn’t expect that we can meet Pokemon in South Korea at all! I will keep reporting the news about Pokemon Go in Sokcho. (The bus tickets were already sold out for this coming weekend…you know what this means…)

I cannot go to Sokcho right now but I still can see and read other hunters’ stories and photos through social media. Oh!!! and I can’t catch Pokemon because they didn’t visit Seoul for this time, but I can ‘find’ or ‘catch’ Yakult Ajumma through using Yakult Ajumma app on my smartphone.


Smart Yakult Ajumma


I still remember when I was very young I was more than exciting to drink small bottle of yakult every morning. Since 1971, yakult ajummas delivered yakult to door to door in Korea. These yakult delivery women are called as ‘yakult ajumma’ and they wear uniforms that are similar to the colour of ‘yakult’ which is light pinky apricot. There is no Yakulk Ajeossi (middle-aged men, sort of opposite meaning of ajumma) because the company only hired ajummas for ‘yakult ajumma’. Yes, they do yakult delivery but they are not simply delivery ajummas. They do various social-minded activities to help disadvantaged people such as elder who lives alone, adolescent heads of family etc. As yakult ajumma, they sell yakult to customers but they are more than just ‘yakult delivery women’ rather yakult ajumma as ajummas, they are like our mothers, ajummas who live our next doors. And this friendly and motherly image of ajumma accords with what company aims, for example ‘yakult ajummas deliver health to your door every morning’.

Mother of Working Mom, Yakult Ajumma, YTN TV News, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1JIYmu33bE>

In the past (1980s to early 2000s), yakult ajummas’ biggest customers are ajummas because they handle the household mostly, so ajummas paid the price of yakult once a month, usually paid by cash to yakult ajumma directly. However, these yakult ajumma changed to smart yakult ajumma since 2013 because they hold hands with digital mobile devices and system.


Thus ajumma customers now can order their yakult and pay the price of yakult through using an yakult app on their smartphones. For example, ajumma customers simply put their smartphones on card reader machine of yakult ajumma’s mobile cart, then the money will be charged to their smartphone bill every month. This is convenient for both an ajumma customer and yakult ajumma. In addition, it is innovation of mobile shopping markets because they designed this mobile payment system for the yakult customers, who are the majority of ajummas.

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image from Yakult365.com <http://yakult365.com/150>

Through this example of yakult ajumma (smart yakult ajumma) and their digital mobile app, I can see how our ajummas engage with mobile digital technology in daily lives. Also these yakult ajummas are using mobile cart and digital technology to sell yakult, their image of yakult ajumma that is ‘friendly and motherly’ still makes customers to feel warmheartedness of yakult ajumma.


image from Yakult365.com <http://yakult365.com/395>

Actually they tried to change the name of yakult delivery women in 2014. They thought the name of ‘yakult ajumma’ cannot be matched with digital way of yakult ajumma (with mobile cart and smartphone app). So the company invited public participation to create a new name for yakult ajumma. However, people in Korea ask the company for keeping the ‘yakult ajumma’ instead of getting a new funky name for those ajummas. Fortunately, the company keeps ‘yakult ajumma’ and we are able to keep call and see ‘yakult ajumma’ continuously. Yakult ajumma will be staying to deliver health to us everyday but the ways of delivering yakult are evolving constantly as development of new technology. Yes they are now Smart Yakult Ajumma like our Smart Ajummas. Go Ajummas!