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South Korean regulator ousts staff after unusual corruption investigation

A simple ratings change for the mobile game Blue Archive led to three staffers leaving South Korean's GRAC regulatory board amid allegations of embezzlement.

Justin Carter

July 6, 2023

1 Min Read
Key art for Nexon's mobile game, Blue Archive.

A trio of department heads resigned from South Korea's Game Regulation and Administration Commission (GRAC) following a corruption investigation. Originally spotted by Pocket Gamer, the three heads were alleged to have been embezzling taxpayer money. 

Chinese outlet GameLook wrote that South Korean players of the mobile game Blue Archive launched a petition after its rating was changed from 15 years to R-18 last year due to alleged graphic content. Having its age rating bumped up locked the game off from its younger players and impacted revenue it could earn. 

The petition's large number of signatures resulted in an investigation and public audit being launched into GRAC. It was then discovered that the three employees allegedly mislaid 700 million won (or over $534,000) from taxpayers that was meant to be used for other service projects.

While the identities of the employees weren't disclosed, it's been reported they individually worked in GRAC's departments for management planning, game content management, and self-regulatory support. It's further alleged those embezzlement funds were used to mine bitcoin. 

Lee Sang-heon, lawmaker for South Korea's Democratic Party who signed the petition, wrote (in a translated post) that the investigation "is not the end of corruption, but the beginning of change. We need to lead the Game Rating Management Committee to make sweeping innovations through bone-cutting reforms."

He further commended Blue Archive players, saying they "took a precious time to come to the National Assembly to clarify the suspicion of cheating. Once again, I would like to express my deepest gratitude."

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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