SEOUL, Feb. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – Whether it’s the poor economy provoking childhood nostalgia, or people looking for simple gambling fun, claw machines are back in Korea, and they are everywhere.
Over the past two years, the number of claw machine arcades in the country jumped by 2,400 percent to an estimated 500 – and the actual number of machines is likely to be a much greater taking into account other arcades that may also have them on offer.
Interestingly, the recent frenzy has brought about a whole new business model, where “professional” claw machine players are reselling their prizes online for significant profits.
Such activities are most popular on Facebook, with the experts uploading pictures of dozens of dolls snatched from the arcades to sell at discounted prices compared to e-commerce platforms, or gambling thousands of won on claw machines themselves hoping for a slight chance of winning.
Among the more popular dolls recently are Pokémon, especially given last week’s release of Pokémon GO, while a goblin doll (Memilgun) that was featured in the tvN series Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, is also in high demand, according to industry watchers.
“I got addicted to these claw machines, and one day found myself with a pile of dolls in the corner of my room,” said Lee Sang-wook, 29, who tried selling his rewards online. “It’s catching two birds with one stone, having fun with the games while making a little cash for myself.”
Experts call this phenomenon an example of “digital native (person born after the widespread adoption of technology) culture.”
“Older generations wouldn’t dare think about selling the dolls, even if they have piles of them. But the young, who have taken technology for granted, use social networking to make a profit,” said sociology professor Seol Dong-hoon from Chonbuk National University.
“With the nationwide boom of claw machine arcades, the ‘experts’ are resupplying the market with the dolls that they’ve obtained,” he said. “Thanks to those who lack the skills to get the best of the machines, there’s now a whole new market emerging.”
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)