With such a large number of developed countries housing growing interest in commercial drones for activities like racing, it’s hard to imagine that a country like South Korea is late on the scene. Well-known for their interest in e-sports, South Korea has dominated the metagame of most popular online games. Well ahead of the curve when it comes to this type of stuff, professional teams have had enormous fanbases since early 2000. In fact, Starcraft helped bud the Korean e-Sports Association, an arm of their Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, to promote and regulate e-sports in the country.
So for a Country so far ahead of the curve with this type of media, it’s rather surprising to hear they have only very recently taken up an interest in drone racing. Last December was their first major drone racing competition, hosted by large corporations like their telecom operator KT whom also fielded their own drone racing team. More drone competitions have been sprouting up nationwide since then, and thousands of individuals have now registered themselves as drone racers.
So we inevitably come to the question of, “how come they’re so late in comparison”? The country has a history of embracing this type of entertainment and competition. On this front, we can only really hypothesize. Most of the drone tech up till recently has been used for military applications like reconnaissance (due to the obvious threat from the north), so it’s certainly possible the idea of using drones commercially never reached their ears until recently.
“Korea is at its infancy in terms of drone introduction but the industry is growing at a rapid pace,” said the Korea Drone Industry Association in a recent report. “The majority of UAVs are still devoted to military purposes at the moment and commercial applications are mostly about aerial survey and videography. Drones weighing 12 kilograms or less with engine displacement of 50 cubic centimeters have been rising in number.”
South Korea has a history of applying themselves rigorously to competition across all these rather “nerdy” sports. As interest in the sport in their country grows, it’s a safe bet to expect some amazing pilots to crop up.
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