Like Japan, Prize Claw Machines/ UFO catchers ( 인형 뽑기) are all around Korea and often found right in the street!  Korea has a large variety of machine styles including the Japanese variety (although they are not stocked the same) and Chinese + Korean made versions which look just as nice and are significantly cheaper for businesses.

Cost to play is around 500-1,000 won

The old school machines are mostly yellow ground games that can often be found rusting up on the site of the street someplace today.  Most of them are pretty gross looking on the outside and really hard to win because they are so janky.

The most common style of prize games you will find in Korea are the Traditional Japanese SEGA UFOs, a smaller 4 prong rubber tipped claw,  old yellow ground claws + updated version of this same style, a shelf push-style where you line the rubber stick up with a prize and push it off the shelf (recently they have removed the small hole that you would have to fit the stick through to push the prize, meaning this game is PAINFULLY easy and advertised as being totally winnable)  and the standard 4 claw machines you see back in the states.

a claw machine in Tokyo~ Special October Gloomybear prizes. Prize games in Japan change the toys often and are almost always winnable with just a little bit of skill and practice~ The trick mainly in Japan is to KNOCK OVER toys vs pick them up usually.  The quality is always wonderful for the cost and the items are very collectable and desirable to a player…its hard to resist.

Prizes..This is what is important!  Korea’s prizes are currently in the middle… they are not nearly as diverse or collectable as the ones in Japan, but they are not as god awful as the ones in America that are often filled with hideous toys falling apart that have been in the machine for 5 years because its rigged to not let you win. Here you have a 50/50 shot of seeing something cute or winning.   My boyfriend remembers playing these games in the 90’s as a child and insists the prizes they used to carry where often imported NICE ones from Japan (he remembers wasting a lot of money to try and win Final Fantasy key chains lol) but because the machine was very hard to win and very expensive, people just stopped playing. Over the last 9 years that I have been coming to Korea I have noticed them seem to have a bit of a rebirth, machines that littered the streets half broken and un-played have been replaced in the last 2-3 years and are starting to get stocked with better things.

Plush toys here are a mix of semi cute brand-less toys and licensed character plush.. although often they look like they may be bootleg ESPECIALLY if its a Japanese character product. Korea prefers Korean things so it tries to stock the prizes with its own home-grown brand characters like Pororo, Pucca, and Mashimaro OR characters Korea has a licensing agreement with like angry birds, Relakuma, or Hello Kitty~  the styles of plush do not rotate often like they do in Japan though, so you do not get a lot of variety if you play on a regular basis… it really seems to depend on the individual machine owner.

This is one of the newer “proper cute” toys found here recently though~ they are still a little cheap, but kinda cute!

The cuteness and quality of toys here is improving as the younger generation hits the malls and spends in properly stocked machines, but compared to its neighbors Korea prizes still lack the collectable appeal.  The other prizes found in machines here aside from plush is quite random, and seems to not have a target player in mind…just hoping to catch anyone walking by.  The adorable toy above was won in the same machine as  lighters, Chinese bootleg Anime figures, and sexy panties in boxes. Random!

What kid wants to win a can of nuts Korea??  

UFO catcher + Misc Claw machines

Price to play- usually 1,000 won

Filled with a range of *almost* cute toys. Sometimes licensed characters appear

Claw prizes = Plush prizes and I pretty much covered that above!  You have a range of ugly, cute, licensed, random, or bootleg depending on the owner of the particular machine.  This results in a range of quality of course, but overall its not that bad.  More popular areas for kids like Lotte world or Malls have better prizes VS ones on the street of course.

Small-size rubber tipped claw machine

Price to play- usually 1,000 won

This game is always filled with cans of edibles….

The “Little Pinco” machine above is very strange, but a common occurrence in public places and outside mini marts right now.  This machine is supposed to be filled with smaller keychain style plush, but Korea fills its machine with can/bottle products at about $2-$4 in value.  Nuts, dark chocolate, and xylitol gum are the usual fillers of these… they are not very appealing to younger children and I never see them being played (they are a bit difficult to win… the type of crane that never seems strong enough to pick up the prize, slips right off the cans) so perhaps they are intended for older players?

Window/ Push style

Price to play- usually 1,000 won

Two versions available. 100% chance is the same game, just with the small winning window removed. Currently seems to be the most popular street machine.

Push window prizes are SOOoooooo random.  The windows are filled with anything and everything, regardless of the location.  A year or so ago a lot of them had appeared very understocked and neglected with ugly bootleg toys geared for kids, but now the “winnable” versions (with the small opening removed) seem to have taken off so they always seem full and are regularly played since they are so easy to win… its just pushing something off a shelf.  The new winnable versions of this machine contain anything from earmuffs, bootleg capsule toys, earphones, panties in a box, lighters, cheap small plush, and more.  Lighters and adult panties (not used, but they are in naughty boxes) seem to always be a constant in these machines and are usually found on the bottom… which is a little disturbing since it also offers normal prizes for kids… I even found one with a pocket massager.

It’s become a very handy “oh I need that” sort of machine around my house.

Push game with the plastic winning window still in place. Lately this is being removed making it MUCH easier, but the prizes cheaper as a result!

Please enjoy these other images of prize & UFO games in Korea!


Toys, Lighters, panties, iphone cords, and a massager. HUM.



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