Social welfare professor Jung Sul-ki at Choongang University pointed out that Korea spent over 109 trillion won (US$107 billion) in social costs due to four types of addiction - alcohol, gambling, drug and online games - and more than 10 percent of the population is addicted to at least one of the four, with Internet game addiction picked by the general public as the most severe social problem among the four.
The professor also said that Korea’s social and cultural elements have much to do with the severe addiction. “For example, Korean society is very tolerant of drinking, but passive when it comes to drinking-related problems,” she explained, continuing, “The regions with less cultural facilities showed higher medical expenses for drinking and a higher frequency of violence by drunks.”
She mentioned that 20 to 50 percent of the population seems to have at least one type of mental illness, whether it is associated with alcohol, drugs, or online games.
In the meantime, according to medical studies professor Seo Jung-suk at Konkuk University, neurologists discovered the compensating circuit in the 1950s, which feels pleasure when dopamine is released in response to brain stimulation, and it was confirmed in the 1980s that alcohol and drug addictions share the same principle.
Since 2000, a series of research results have come out that gambling and game addictions stimulate the compensating circuit of the brain in a similar way to addictive behavior.