At this point, Grand Theft Auto V ‘s immense popularity is well known. It’s cemented itself as a cornerstone of pop culture, earning accolades like most downloaded on PS4 in July 2018, almost four years after its initial launch. But a new report from the Korean Times suggests that Rockstar’s phenomenon has caught on in an unlikely place.
According to defectors from North Korea, titles like Grand Theft Auto V are played by everyone as soon as they can be smuggled into the country on USB sticks. “Every one of my friends has played foreign video games,” a 14-year old defector told the Daily NK upon arriving in Seoul. Other titles that have gained traction in North Korea include FIFA Online and 2003’s Project I.G.I.2.
The North Korean government, instead of chasing gamers down, have been relatively breezy about foreign video games, instead electing to crack down on “South Korean movies and dramas,” says another source. Beyond stifling the fad, it appears that the North Korean government is jumping on board the popularity of video games in their country, albeit in an unsettling manner.
The Express reports that the totalitarian regime has been actively building their own computers and developing video games for their populace. Their marquee title, Hunting Yankee, tasks players with sniping U.S. soldiers and fighting American injustice from behind enemy lines. The state-run media outlets claim that game has garnered a lot of popularity of late, but it isn’t clear if the title is playable on PC or mobile.
Speaking of mobile games, the same article reports that the North Korean Advanced Technology Research Institute has developed three mobile games. It is unclear how these mobile games play or what genre they fall into, but with titles like Confrontation War and Guardian, it isn’t hard to imagine that they too have a nationalist lense to them.