Semantic network analysis of conflict in Korean society regarding the WHO classification of gaming disorder (disease code 6C51)


Background: In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO), in its 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), classified ‘gaming disorder’ as a disease. As a result, countries are witnessing conflicts among stakeholders with regard to the introduction of the classification. The objective of this analysis is to identify trends of coverage made by major media outlets in Korea concerning controversy over the introduction of ‘gaming disorder’ as a disease and, through such an analysis, examine how social perceptions have been formulated in Korea. Methods: Semantic network analysis was deployed to examine the semantic structure of messages delivered by the media. The analysis was conducted to identify what semantic structure and issues were pursued by the media with regard to the introduction of ‘gaming disorder’ as a disease in the context of social debates, by looking at the prominent of words in messages delivered by news media, and the interactive structure among these words. Results: In terms of their prevalence, the main key words in major media reports were ‘addiction’, ‘WHO’, ‘classification’, ‘industry’, ‘code’, ‘domestic’, ‘objection’, ‘gaming industry’, ‘introduce’, ‘gaming disorder’, and ‘Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism/MCST’. The structural characteristics of the entire network of media reports were formed around key words such as ‘addiction’, ‘WHO’, ‘classification’, ‘objection’, ‘industry’, ‘code’, ‘mental disorder’, and ‘backlash’. Words with high eigenvector centrality were ‘addiction’, ‘WHO’, ‘classification’, ‘industry’, ‘domestic’, ‘code’, ‘objection’, ‘introduce’, ‘controversy’, and ‘Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism/MCST’. Following CONCOR analysis, a total of four clusters were formed: Cluster 1 for objection, Cluster 2 for consent, Cluster 3 for expected problems, and Cluster 4 for factors for efforts towards conflict resolution. Conclusions: This research explored social perceptions in Korea regarding the issue of the WHO introducing gaming disorder as a disease, by identifying trends of the media coverage through a semantic network analysis of the media’s asymmetrical data. Through this, despite the inevitable introduction of the system to promote public health, it was shown that there is a sharp conflict between the medical and the game industry and related public organizations in Korea. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2020;34(Special issue-3):67-77] Keywords: Gaming disorder, disease code 6C51, conflicts, media reports, semantic network analysis