Baseball in South Korea

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Korean baseball player Kim Hyun-soo in the outfield during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Baseball is believed to have been introduced to Korea in 1905 by American missionaries during the Korean Empire, after which it gradually attained prominence.[1][2] It is one of the most popular sports in the country. There are 10 pro teams in the Korea Baseball Organization. Baseball season runs from March to October.

Early history[edit]

American missionaries brought baseball to Korea in the 19th century. In 1896, US Marines played exhibitions against teams of Americans expatriates and the Seoul Athletic Club. The sport flourished in the period of Japanese rule.[3]

On December 1921, a team of American Major League players stopped in Seoul during a tour of Asia, and a Korean team was assembled to play against them. The Koreans were defeated, 23-3.[4] Various Korean cities also participated in the Japanese Intercity Baseball Tournament, from its inception in 1927 until 1942.[5] In 1940 and 1942 Seoul won the tournament, defeating (respectively) the teams of Dalian and Osaka. At least one Korean played against a Babe Ruth-led team of American all-stars which toured Japan in 1934.[3]

Post-war period[edit]

The 1980s marked the beginning of the professional baseball era in Korea. In 1982, the MBC Chungyong, Lotte Giants, Samsung Lions, OB Bears, Haitai Tigers, and Sammi Superstars were launched, as was the highest-level league that they composed, the Korea Baseball Championship.[6] This league continues to be Korea's major league, although as of 2015 it has expanded to 10 teams.

The sport reached a new level of popularity when pitcher Chan Ho Park made his debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1994.[7] Park achieved a great deal of success in his Major League Baseball career, and paved the way for the American success of fellow Korean players such as Hee-seop Choi, Byung-hyun Kim, Bong Jung-keun, Shin-Soo Choo, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Jung-ho Kang.

It is also played widely on the local high school and collegiate level, as well as in a farm league (the Korea Baseball Futures League).

Baseball's governing body in Korea is the Korea Baseball Organization, a member of the International Baseball Federation and the organization responsible for the nation's participation in such international competitions such as the Olympics, World Baseball Classic and the Asian Games. The KBO also manages Korea's highly successful national team. In the mid-2000s South Korea rose as a dominant power in the international baseball scene, twice placing second in the World Baseball Classic, and winning the bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, and the gold medal against Cuba at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Korea consistently places in the top of the WBSC World Rankings.

See also[edit]

Baseball organizations in Korea[edit]

Professional leagues[edit]

Other related pages[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ a b Jeong, Andrew (27 December 2017). "What's That Rocketing Into the North Korean Sky? A Baseball!". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  4. ^ Reaves, Joseph (2006). Gmelch, George (ed.). Baseball Without Borders: The International Pastime. University of Nebraska Press. p. 96.
  5. ^ ja:都市対抗野球大会 (朝鮮)
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ "Chan Ho Park Player Page". Retrieved 4 November 2014.