Esports has become extremely popular and competitive worldwide in the last couple of decades. Korea has produced some of the best esports players, like Faker, Flash, and Lim Yo-hwan to name just a few. There is another name that almost everybody who knows esports is familiar with: Game Caster Jeon Yong-jun (aka Caster Jun or “Korean Hype Man”). Most of Jeon’s nicknames are from his signature tendency to shout his commentary during a game’s opening ceremony and throughout the game itself. He has served as an esports caster for one of the most popular esports games, League of Legends (LoL) since it began being serviced in Korea in 2011 (LoL Championship Korea (LCK) is a huge event held in sold-out arenas, and this year’s LoL Championship Korea kicked off on February 5).
|[The author interviewing Jeon Yong-jun / Photo Credit: Sewon Han]|
I interviewed Jeon Yong-jun at the LoL Arena in Seoul’s Jongno-gu district. The usually sold-out event was quiet that day because, due to the COVID-19 scare, LCK will be held without an audience. Jeon has been casting esports like Star League, Kartrider League, and Metalrage for over 15 years, and he said that LoL is the most difficult game to broadcast because of its sheer size. With the largest esports market, LoL has the biggest number of players, fans, and spectators worldwide. “If I slip up, the feedback can be harsh.” On the same note, when he does well, he gets great reception and feedback, which Jeon says make his effort worthwhile. “My job comes with a lot of responsibilities.”
As with any occupation, game casters are likely to have their own know-how and expertise, and I wanted to know about Jeon’s.“Game casters have a deeper knowledge of the game than the average person, and in order for me to perform well, it all comes down to preparation and concentration.” He has been trying even harder than usual these days to be more passionate about his job because he wants to “keep up” with younger esports players and fans. “The more I am prepared, the more fun and exciting the game gets,” Jeon added.
When asked about most memorable games, Jeon immediately noted two; the 2002 Starleague between Lim Yo-hwan and Park Jung-suk, the second final that Jeon had cast, and the 2014 LoL World Championship. “At the opening of the 2014 LoL World Championship, I threw an empty water bottle. It was surprisingly well received, and the producer joked that I might be getting job offers from abroad. I think the bottle-throwing was appealing to audiences abroad.”
Caster Jun is famous for his “shouting” casting style. To take care of his throat, he said that he used to eat things that are famously known to be good for the throat, but now sticks to warming up sufficiently before a game because that seems to work best for him. Even if his voice starts to break during the game, Jeon noted that it surprisingly seems to improve quickly on its own, unlike when his voice turns bad in a noraebang (Korean-style karaoke), where it takes him a longer time to recover (Jeon jokingly added that he tries to avoid going to noraebang as much as possible).
|[LCK Trophy / Photo Credit: Sewon Han]|
Having seen the esports industry’s development from up close, Jeon commented that the market for esports has increased immensely, but this has also resulted in gaming addiction becoming a mental health disorder according to the World Health Organization. However, the fact that there is an official esports tournament in the ROK Army speaks volumes about how large the market for esports has become. “More than two million people watch the summer finals, and it is exciting to see the numbers increase like that. Esports is even included in the Idol Star Athletics Championships, and Faker was once even invited to Cheongwadae [official residence of the Korean president]. The public’s perception of esports is becoming more positive, and that helps me personally and my job as well.”
I asked Jeon if he gets to know the players personally, to which he replied that usually, it’s not easy because they are much younger. But with players like Hong Jin-ho, who is around Jeon’s age, he said he enjoys having drinks on occasion and that he is closer to the staff of the game events than with the players. As my final question, I asked Jeon to describe himself with one word, and he said “Caster. I am proud to be called a caster. I am actually called ‘caster’ more often than by my actual name and I like that.”
Shepherd International Education
Sewon Han email@example.com
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