The South Korean army hosted an Overwatch tournament earlier this week, while members of the Republic of Korea Army competing for glory in the Overwatch Soldier: 76 tournament on October 8.
Teams from different branches of the ROK Army came together to show who among them was the best as Blizzard’s digital manshooter, unsurprising when you consider how popular esports is in South Korea. The South Korean Air Force used to field a StarCraft team, the first ever to come from a military background, between 2007 and 2010, with Lim ‘BoxeR’ Yo Hwan, one of the most notable Starcraft players of all time.
South Korea’s esports obsession is well documented, but its mandatory military service is less so. All men between the ages of 18 to 35 must complete a 21-month service period that can be completed at any stage before the age of 35. This applies to all men except those given special dispensation.
Something seems decidedly gross about the military competing on a digital battlefield, however it’s hard to really show how large a part of the public consciousness that esports is over there. Earlier this year a Korean election candidate released a StarCraft map to celebrate the game’s free to play release.