As the World Health Organization (WHO) has decided to officially classify gaming addiction as a disease, a conflict has erupted between the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW), which tries to find middle ground by forming a consultative body, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), which strongly opposes to include gaming addiction in the new international classification of diseases. In particular, the Culture Ministry, which works to promote the domestic game industry, has officially announced that it would not participate in the consultative body led by the Health Ministry. Accordingly, friction is expected between the two ministries in discussing the matter in the future.
The Culture Ministry said on May 27 that the WHO’s decision to add gaming addiction to the disease list lacks a scientific basis and it would raise objections to the WHO in the future.
The Health Ministry announced on May 26 that it would set up a consultative body consisting of relevant ministries, civic groups, parent groups, game industry officials, health experts and legal experts by the end of June.
The Culture Ministry said that it opposes the Health Ministry’s decision to establish the consultative body because it is intended to officially define gaming addiction as a disease. But it said it would actively take part in the consultative body if it is run by the Office for Government Policy Coordination under the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Health Ministry is planning to officially ask the Culture Ministry to participate in the consultative body. It said, “We are not trying to categorize gaming addiction as a disease right away. We will take time to discuss it until the new classification officially takes effect in 2022.” However, the Culture Ministry says that it would not even discuss the inclusion of game addiction in the disease list. Therefore, the government is expected to have difficulty in setting up relevant policies if the two ministries fail to narrow their differences in the future.
At the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 25 (local time), the WHO unanimously agreed to adopt the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), which includes gaming disorder as a recognized disease. The new classifications will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. South Korea, a member country of the WHO, also needs to abide by the WHO’s decision unless it is an exceptional case.