Those who play online games are aware of the massive economy surrounding in-game item trading. It has led to such activities like gold farming that many players frown upon but it still makes a lot of money every year. South Korea has been one of the few countries that regulates such activity. That regulation has now reached an all-out ban, but for interesting reasons.
The Korea Times is reporting that The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has announced the ban will go into effect next month. It's not known how long the ban will last. The reason behind the ban isn't to cut down on crime or anything like that. It's all about the children not paying attention to their studies.
The main problem at hand is the use of automatic item collecting programs that power gold farming and the like. Players use these to obtain in-game items without having to actually play the game. It's effortless money making and is apparently a large part of the industry. The Ministry of Culture said that over 60 percent of the items sold were collected through these automatic programs.
Considering that the ban mostly targets teenagers, the punishment for violation seems pretty excessive. Those in violation will be fined 50 million won and face up to five years in prison. In U.S. dollars, that equates to $42,000. The fine should be a great deterrent as I'm pretty sure nobody can make that much from gold farming.
South Korea has been one of the many countries in Asia that has started to regulate online gaming. Japan recently instigated a ban on microtransactions that will allow children to only spend up to 10,000 yen ($124) a month. I wouldn't be surprised if Japan enacted a similar ban to what we're seeing now in South Korea. Such a ban would still be ridiculous to even consider in the United States though so keep on trading your items for real world money to your heart's content.