From the Koreagames.com weekly PDF newsletter comes this bit of news as part of a larger article on virtual item sales:
As incidents relating to game item trading practice often make headlines, Rep. Jeong Seong Ho of the ruling Uri party made an interesting proposal that the online game item market be brought into the open…
He apparently made this after a survey of 450 people on his website. In possibly related news, there are over 400 virtual item sales websites in Korea.
…In addition, Rep. Jeong commented, “I will propose a strategy after reviewing the proposal on an open trading platform for online game items. Regulating the trading practice may only promote more irregularities and side effects.”
The article goes on to describe a new alliance between Korean MMO publisher SunnyYNK and ItemBay, known to most US consumers chiefly for their use of spambots on World of Warcraft servers but apparently the largest virtual item trader in Korea, which brokered 360 billion won ($38 million) in sales in 2004, earning 20 billion won ($2.1 million) in commissions.
The magazine concludes by coming out and advocating governmental action:
It is about time that the pros and cons of open trading platforms for online game items were reviewed and incorporated into a relevant legal and regulatory framework.
As there are several sides to this complex issue, a more discreet approach is required. The potential impact that liberalization of game item transactions may have on society as a whole should be studied in more detail and with consistency.
The Sleeper is about to awake. Take cover.
Anyone with any corroboration of the above that can be hyperlinked from the web, please email me. And as always, the things I ramble about here have not been cleared by, or have any reflection on any of my past or present employers but are purely my own opinion.