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Sports in South Korea

Sorts and leisure have come to play an important part in everyday life for many Koreans, particularly in recent times. Perhaps because of the many difficulties the country has faced, the Korean people have a particularly strong love of sports and recreation. Many people comment that Koreans are passionate people; as hard as they work; they love to play even more.

As Korea continues to develop, athletes, at all levels are becoming more and more competitive. Furthermore, the rise in living standards has meant avast increase in interest and expenditure on sports such as golf and other recreational sports. Interest in spectator sports has mushroomed over the last two decades. From archery to yachting. Below are some of the most popular viewer sports now in Korea.

Baseball

LG Twins

The influence of the American military has shown its influence with the wide popularity of baseball as a sport. Getting a baseball glove, bat or ball is a favourite gift for many youngsters. Baseball is big here. Baseball was first played in Korea it is believed in 1906 and a professional leagues started in 1982, with 6 teams. Two more teams were then added (one in 1986 and one in 1989). There are now in fact 10 teams in the league. By tradition, each baseball team in the league is sponsored by a Korean corporation hence the names of the teams reflect this with the:

Korea compete at many different levels for baseball i.e. including the Little League World Series, a title Korea won in 1984, 1985 and 2014. Some Korean players have managed to break through to the American leagues, such Seung-hwan Oh, Dae-ho Lee, Byung-hyun Kim, Jae-kuk Ryu and Shin-soo Choo.

Football (Soccer)

Whilst baseball is very popular in Korea, Koreans have a deep passion for football and this was none so more visible than when Korea shared hosting the world cup with Japan in 2002. The streets of central Seoul were crowded and pumping with energy as Korea reached the semi finals of the tournament. As a national side, South Korea tend to do very well in the Asian Cup and Asian games, as one fo the best teams in the Asian pacific region.

The Korean Professional league is called the ‘K-League‘ and is composed on two divisions; the first division (12 teams) and the second division (11 teams). Existing teams at the moment include the:

If you are visited, Seoul, the capital, one fo the easiest ways to see a game is to head to Seoul World Cup Stadium, where FC Seoul are based (you can also visit their Facebook page). (Where to stay in Seoul)

FC Seoul

Taekwondo

Taknowdo is a martial art for self-defense that has existed in Korea for more than 2000 years. Whilst similar in some ways to Chinese kungfu, Japanese karate, and other Korean martial arts such as hapgido and dangsudo, taekwondo tends to emphasise the use of the legs and feet through powerful kicks. Taekwondo experts have amazed people throughout the world with their acrobatic skills, breaking boards 10 feet off the ground or hitting multiple targets in mid-air. Taekwondo has become a Korean national sport and is a sport which focuses on the body and mind, one reason for its popularity worldwide. Currently more than 40 million people worldwide practice this sport worldwide.

Horse Racing

I had the pleasure to attend a few races at Seoul Racecourse and it makes for a great day out. We I went I saw families and a packed racecourse and the course is in a great location with a mountain range the setting behind the course. To get to the course just take line 4 on the Seoul subway and head to Seoul Racecourse Park station. Pretty straight-forward. The course holds up to 80,000.

Short-track  Speed Skating

Short-track speed skating is the latest sport in which Korea is making its mark. In the 1992 Albertville Winter Games, Korea’s Kim Ki-Hoon won the men’s 1000 meter race and anchored the gold winning medal for the men’s relay. Successes also in the 1994 Lillehammer Games and the 1998 Nagano Games have further deepened the interest in this sport in Korea.

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