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Last modified on 19 November 2015, at 15:58

Pokémon in South Korea

Pokémon in South Korea
South Korea Flag.png
Flag of South Korea
Languages Korean
Continent Asia
Original anime airdates
EP001 July 14, 1999
AG001 July 21, 2003
DP001 September 10, 2007
BW001 May 16, 2011
XY001 March 10, 2014

The Pokémon (포켓몬스터) franchise first reached South Korea in 1999, with the first airing of Pikachu, I Choose You! on the Seoul Broadcasting System. None of the first generation Pokémon games were released in South Korea, so it was not until the release of Pokémon Gold and Silver in 2002 that Pokémon games were released in South Korean stores.


Due to the rocky history between Japan and (South) Korea, Japanese cultural imports—such as manga, anime, video games, music and movies—were banned by the South Korean government after Korean Independence at the end of World War II. This ban would be in effect throughout most of the 80s and 90s, particularly when video game consoles began to grow in popularity in Japan and the West. Many Korean companies would find ways around the ban, such as licensing American versions of Japanese consoles; Hyundai, for example, licensed the American Nintendo Entertainment System (instead of the Japanese Famicom) and released it as the 현대 컴보이 Hyundai Comboy. For other things, however, there was no way around the ban, and Pokémon was of no exception; almost all Pokémon-related media of its time would never officially make its way into South Korea. This included all of the first generation games; if anything Pokémon-related appeared in Korea, it was either a bootleg, a rip-off or an illegal version.

Cover of Pocket Monsters Gum·Eun
Eventually, South Korean and Japanese relations had warmed up to the point where the South Korean government's ban on Japanese cultural imports was partially lifted in October 1998[1]. This in turn finally allowed for the release of some Pokémon titles into South Korea. In particular, the Pokémon anime first appeared on Korean television on July 1999, while the Pokémon manga series, Pokémon Adventures (포켓몬스터 스페셜 Pocket Monsters Special), would hit bookshelves on August 1999. The first Korean-language main series game, however, would be Pokémon Gold and Silver (포켓몬스터 금·은 Pocket Monsters Gum·Eun), which saw a release in April 2002; its delay may have been due to the difficulty of including the Korean language writing system in it. On the other hand, neither Pokémon Crystal nor the third generation games would see a release in South Korea, most likely for the same difficulties involved in a Korean translation. There may have also been uncertainty on how to play those games, as Hyundai would not license a version of either the Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance for release in Korea.

Finally in January 2004, the South Korean government completely lifted its ban on Japanese cultural imports[2]. This allowed Nintendo to officially operate in South Korea as 한국닌텐도(주) Nintendo of Korea, Inc. starting on July 2006[3], with 포켓몬코리아 Pokémon Korea, Inc. beginning its operations a month later[4]. The Nintendo DS Lite would end up being the first console officially released by the new Nintendo of Korea in January 2007, and Pokémon Diamond and Pearl (포켓몬스터 DP 디아루가·펄기아 Pocket Monsters DP Dialga·Palkia) would be released in February 2008. However, it would not be until the release of Pokémon Black and White (포켓몬스터 블랙·화이트 Pocket Monsters Black·White) in 2010 that Korean games would be completely compatible with other region carts (as Generation IV games from other regions lack Korean characters).

Cover of Pokémon Giratina Pt version
Since its official release, Pokémon has enjoyed considerable success in South Korea. Releases in Korea have been able to keep pace with Japan and the rest of the world; Korean-language editions of Pokémon Adventures volumes are generally released in Korea before English-editions in North America, new TCG sets are released on par with international releases, and the Korean release of Pokémon X and Y (포켓몬스터 X・Y Pocket Monsters X·Y) was part of the "Worldwide Release", with Korean being a playable option in all regions. Furthermore, 이현정 Lee Hyun-jung is a Korean employee of Game Freak who designed Tepig, Pignite and Emboar, as well as illustrated a number of cards for the Pokémon TCG. Finally in 2014, the Video Game Championship, Masters Division winner was 박세준 Park Se-jun, the first Korean winner of a Pokémon Worlds event.

Similarities to foreign versions

The Pokémon franchise in South Korea is a mix of the franchise as it is released in Japan and North America, and is also is uniquely Korean.

Currently, the Pokémon franchise in Korea tends to mirror what is done in Japan, in the same way the Pokémon franchise in Europe mirrors what is done in North America. Some Korean names of Pokémon and NPCs are translations or transliterations of their Japanese names; Sylveon's Korean name 님피아 Nimpia is based the Japanese ニンフィア Nymphia rather than its Western name. Furthermore, event Pokémon distributions in Korea are more based on similar events in Japan versus the West; the Japanese Year of the Dragon event was also available in Korea, but it was never released in the West.

Korean logo for the Pokémon TCG; it is similar to the North American logo
Other times, what is used in North America is used in Korea; for example, both the front and back card design for the Pokémon TCG in Korea is based on the North American version of the game. Also, when Ruby and Sapphire was released, the Korean version (as depicted in Pokémon Adventures) tended to use English names for Pokémon. For example, Taillow and Swellow's Korean names are transliterated from English (테일로 Teillo and 스왈로 Seuwallo, respectively), as was Delcatty (델케티 Delketi).

Most of the time, however, Pokémon in South Korea has a unique Korean look and feel. Many Pokémon have names unique to Korea, like Kecleon (켈리몬 Kellimon), Leavanny (모아머 Moameo), and Helioptile (목도리키텔 Mokdorikitel), while many of the main characters in the Pokémon franchise are given specifically Korean names: Ash Ketchum is 한지우 Han Ji-u, Jessie and James are 로사 Rosa and 로이 Roy, respectively, and Lance is 목호 Mokho.

For more information on these translated names, see list of Korean Pokémon names.

Pokémon video games

Cover of Pocket Monsters X·Y

Due to the South Korean government's ban on Japanese cultural items, none of the first generation games saw an official release in Korea. Once the ban was slightly lifted in 1998, a Korean-language version of Pokémon Gold and Silver (포켓몬스터 금·은 Pocket Monsters Gum·Eun) would be released in 2002. Unlike previous localizations of Pokémon Gold and Silver, these versions are not playable on the original Game Boy at all, and display an incompatibility message if inserted into an original Game Boy, like Pokémon Crystal. [5] For unknown reasons, Pokémon Crystal was never released in the Korean language, although it may be of note that the Game Boy Color's lifespan overseas was almost finished. Likewise, none of the third generation would see a South Korean release either.

Since February 2008, all of the fourth generation main series games have been released in South Korea. Several of the spin-off Pokémon games have been released in South Korea as well. The fifth generation games would see a release in 2011, and Pokémon X and Y were released in Korea at the same time as the rest of the world.


Korean Pokémon Global Link
Local events have been occurring often in South Korea since the release of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The events are usually announced on the Korean Pokémon website. With the release of Pokémon Black and White, there has been both an official Korean version of the Pokémon Global Link as well as various Wi-Fi competitions, both International and Local (Korean).

Pokémon anime

Cartoon Network logo

The Korean dub of the Pokémon anime was first aired in July 1999, and is mainly based on the original Japanese version. Most characters are renamed in the dub; for example, Ash Ketchum is 한지우 Han Ji-u, Misty is 최이슬 Choi I-seul and Brock is 웅 Ung.

Tooniverse logo

In South Korea, the Pokémon anime had aired on Seoul Broadcasting System since the series' debut. Currently, episodes of the anime are aired on Tooniverse, CHAMP TV, Animax, Cartoon Network, ANIONE, and Jei TV.

Special episodes, such as Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Team Go-Getters out of the Gate and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time & Darkness, have been dubbed as well.

Unlike the other dubs, the Korean dub has banned 20 episodes so far, including the ones banned in Japan. These banned episodes usually included overt references to Japan and Japanese culture, such as Challenge of the Samurai and The Ninja Poké-Showdown. However, most of these episodes were from the original series, with the last unaired episodes (not counting clip shows like AG120 and DP120 or episodes banned in Japan) being from Advanced Generation series: AG055 and AG056. However, that may have been an oversight, as many of the unaired episodes were released on DVD.


Cover artwork for the CD Pocket Monsters AG (New & Best)
050Diglett.png This section is incomplete.
Please feel free to edit this section to add missing information and complete it.
Reason: Lacking more information in reference to the music.
Main article: List of Korean opening themes
Main article: List of Korean ending themes

Much like the English dub, the Korean dub of the Pokémon anime features different openings and endings from that in Japanese. However, the songs are directly based on their respective Japanese counterparts, using similar lyrics, style and beat along with sharing the same running time (1 minute and 30 seconds) and debuting episodes.

A music CD was released in South Korea titled Pocket Monsters AG (New & Best). This CD was released in 2003.

Cast and crew

Many voice actors and actresses have contributed to the production of the Korean dub of the Pokémon anime.

지우 Ji-woo (Ash Ketchum) has been voiced by:

이슬 I-seul (Misty) was voiced by 지미애 Ji Mi-ae.

Ung (Brock) was voiced by:

관철 Gwancheol (Tracey Sketchit) was voiced by 이영주 Lee Young-joo.

봄이 Bom'i (May) was voiced by:

  • 서혜정 Seo Hye-jeong for the Advanced Generation,
  • 지미애 Ji Mi-ae for the movies except for M07,
  • 김현지 Kim Hyeon-ji for M07

Pokémon Trading Card Game

Korean pack of Pokémon ADV
The Pokémon Trading Card Game (포켓몬 카드 게임 Pokémon Card Game) was initially released in South Korea in 2000 by Wizards of the Coast, starting with Base Set. A Korean Pikachu was included in two separate Pikachu World Collection promo sets. When Nintendo took over the game in 2003, they continued to release new sets until EX Power Keepers. With the release of the Diamond and Pearl sets, the Korean-language cards were released again, starting with 모험의 시작 Start of an Adventure; however Korean sets at this time were a unique combination of existing cards, with none of the sets themselves corresponding to existing sets. It wouldn't be until the release of the Black and White sets in Japan that Korean sets would follow a format that is on par with Japan and North American releases.

Currently, the distributor is Pokémon Korea, Inc. Unlike the North American sets, the booster packs are called Extension Packs, the Theme Decks are called Random Decks, and the promotional pack is called a Special Set.

The current Korean version of the Pokémon TCG is a mix between the English card design and the Japanese set format. In particular, the front and back of the card is exactly the same as the English version, albeit in Korean; this includes the flat yellow borders, copyright info in the lower-lefthand corner of the card (which is instead the location of the "1st Edition" symbol on Japanese cards), and the card backs used on English cards since the original Base Set release. However, the set logo, set names, rarity icons, and card numbers for Korean cards are the same as the Japanese version: for example, Korean cards use the same purple "XY7" symbol and name "Bandit Ring" as the Japanese cards, instead of that used for the English release of Ancient Origins. Korean Mega Pokémon cards also depict the English names of their attack instead of the Japanese names seen on English cards. This combination of English and Japanese formats might be due to both a desire to retain continuity with the original Wizards of the Coast cards released in Korean (as seen on the Korean Pikachu card included in both Pikachu World Collection release), but also due to the closer influence of the main The Pokémon Company in Japan on Pokémon Korea, Inc., as opposed to The Pokémon Company International, which runs the International releases of the TCG.

Pokémon Korea, Inc., however, run their own events, including the 포켓몬스터 코리안리그 Pokémon Korea League[6]. They all culminate to an eventual appearance of Korean players at the official Pokémon World Championships event.

Pokémon manga

Cover of volume 1 Pokémon Adventures

Pokémon Adventures (포켓몬스터 스페셜 Pocket Monsters Special) has been published in South Korea by 대원씨아이 Daewon C.I. since August 1999. Since then, every volume that has been released in Japan has been released in Korean, the most recent being Volume 50, which was released on June 24, 2015. No major changes have been made between the original Japanese story and the Korean version.

Magical Pokémon Journey has been translated into Korean as well.

External links


  2. South Korea Makes Way for Anime
  3. Nintendo of Korea opens July 7th
  4. The Pokémon Company History
  5. Hangeru Team (Korean Pokémon blog)
  6. 포켓몬스터 코리안리그

The Pokémon franchise around the world
The Americas: BrazilCanadaLatin AmericaUnited States
Asia: Greater ChinaIndonesiaMalaysiaPhilippinesSingaporeSouth AsiaSouth KoreaThailandVietnam
Europe: BulgariaCzech RepublicDenmarkFinlandFranceGermanyGreeceIrelandItaly
NetherlandsNorwayPolandPortugalRussiaSerbiaSpainSwedenUnited Kingdom
Middle East: Arab worldIsraelTurkey
Oceania: AustraliaNew Zealand

Project Globe logo.png This article is part of Project Globe, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on the Pokémon franchise around the world.