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Microsoft's plan to sell Xbox to Korean gamers next October has driven Sony to bring its own machines to the console-free country (officially, at any rate).

Sony has said it will open a Korean office on 10 December which will prepare the ground for the launch of both the PSone next February. By the end of June, the Japanese giant will have released the PlayStation 2 and 60 games. Some 40 more titles will ship during the second half of 2002.

Sony's move follows extensive market research carried out a few months back. Console vendors have traditionally been wary of the Korean market, fearing that the levels of the software piracy there may seriously threaten their sales.

As a result, the PC has established itself as Korea's main gaming platform, with online games, in particular, strongly appealing to Korean gamers. Korea has the world's highest penetration of broadband Internet access. The dominance of the PC has also further discouraged console vendors from trying to crack the market.

Microsoft clearly reckons Xbox is a strong challenger to a cheap gaming PC - in many ways it is a cheap gaming PC, after all. And Sony doesn't want to give up a market to its arch-rival. ®

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Korea gets Xbox - in Oct 2002

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