Rest of Asia

Youth earns Dh183,500 a month without leaving his bedroom

Filed on April 1, 2021
Photo: AFP

Kim Min-kyo plays video games for up to 15 hours a day.

Meet 24-year-old Kim Min-kyo from Seoul, who makes $50,000 (Dh183,500) a month without leaving his bedroom.

From a converted storeroom on the roof of his mother’s Seoul flat, Kim plays video games for up to 15 hours a day — and makes a fortune from the thousands of fans watching him.

The cramped studio is an unlikely home for a budding millionaire, but the 24-year-old’s gaming prowess — mixed with quick-witted commentary and high-school humour — has resulted in his income climbing to about $50,000 (Dh183,500) a month.

That puts him well into the top 1 per cent of earners in South Korea, but it has not affected his lifestyle.

“I’m not really into cars or spending lots of money,” said Kim, who eats, sleeps, washes and works in the small space. “My mum manages all my income so I never have a lot of money on me.”

Live-streamers, known as “Broadcast Jockeys” or BJs in South Korea, are hard-wired to the digital infrastructure of youth culture. They entertain for hours with an interactive mishmash of chat, gaming, dance, music, eating, or even just sleeping.

A few can earn more than $100,000 in a good month from broadcasting live on home-grown platform AfreecaTV, and uploading edited content to YouTube.

Kim, who often streams himself playing online battle game League of Legends in his pyjamas, builds on his content with conversations that flirt with the country’s social boundaries.

“Maybe sometimes you need to do something absurd to attract followers,” he said.

He makes money from fan donations, sponsorship — sometimes consuming local energy drinks midstream — and advertising on YouTube, where he has more than 400,000 subscribers.

Some live-streamers have moved into the mainstream, including appearances on TV variety shows and sports commentating.

Meanwhile minor celebrities, financial analysts and even some politicians have turned to live-streaming to boost their profiles.

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