Historiography of Korean Esports: Perspectives on Spectatorship

Dal Yong Jin


As a historiography of esports in Korea, this article documents the very early esports era, which played a major role in developing Korea’s esports scene, between the late 1990s and the early 2000s. By using spectatorship as a theoretical framework, it articulates the historical backgrounds for the emergence of esports in tandem with Korea’s unique sociocultural milieu, including the formation of mass spectatorship. In so doing, it attempts to identify the major players and events that contributed to the formation of esports culture. It periodizes the early Korean esports scene into three major periods—namely, the introduction of PC communications like Hitel until 1998, the introduction of StarCraft and PC bang, and the emergence of esports broadcasting and the institutionalization of spectatorship in the Korean context until 2002.


esports, historiography, spectatorship, youth culture, digital games

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