Controversy over the government's push for 'game addiction tax'
Controversy over the government's push for 'game addiction tax'
  • Yeon Choul-woong
  • 승인 2019.05.23 11:56
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The news that the Ministry of Health and Welfare is pushing for a game addiction tax has led to growing opposition. 

On May 20, the government said the Ministry of Health and Welfare is discussing a game addiction tax ahead of the World Health Organization's general meeting.

The introduction of the addiction tax is expected to be even more controversial as the general assembly is scheduled to discuss whether to register the disease code 

Game companies are already protesting, saying, "We are returning tens of billions of won a year to society, and it makes no sense to clamp down on game companies with such a move."

Attempts to legislate a "game addiction tax" have been made several times in political circles. Sohn In-chun, a former lawmaker, has proposed a bill that would collect addiction charges from less than 1 percent of game operators' annual sales. Choi Do-ja, also a lawmaker, has argued that 0.35 percent of the game operator's annual sales should be collected as addiction taxes. 

Here, the game addiction tax refers to the "national health promotion levy" on cigarettes and alcohol. It is true that there is a justification at the WHO General Assembly to impose a "game addiction tax" on games if they are classified as an addiction-causing disease.

According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, however, no country in the world is imposing taxes on games under the pretext of health, addiction and treatment.

Given that the system is already controversial and that no other country has attempted yet, the game addiction tax is expected to face considerable opposition even if it is introduced. 

"The game industry is not neglecting its social contribution activities such as creating a healthy game culture in order to overcome negative perceptions," said an official of a major game company. "it is hard for the gaming industry to accept that the game companies should pay more taxes."

In fact, Nexon spends about 6 billion won a year on social contribution activities. Netmarble set up a cultural heritage group last year to contribute 2.5 billion won in annual donations. NCsoft also established the NCsoft Cultural Foundation in 2012 and has invested a total of 14.6 billion won so far, and said it will offer an additional 50 billion won to society by 2020.

Meanwhile, the WHO will discuss whether to register the game's disease code at the 72nd World Health Congress to be held from May 20-28. The final results will be announced after 4 p.m. on May 28.

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