Sport in South Korea
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South Korea has traditional sports of its own, as well as sports from different cultures and countries.
- 1 History
- 2 Popular sports
- 3 Major sport events
- 4 References
Sports originating from Korea
Taekwondo, a popular martial sport is often claimed to have historical origins on the Korean peninsula with origins said to have been traced as far back as the 1st century BCE. However, such historical claims are difficult to empirically verify and separate from the influences of neighboring counties. The sport rose to prominence following the end of Japanese occupation with the end of WWII. Formalized rules were established in 1961 and in 1988 the sport became an Olympic event. The name "Taekwondo" literally means way of foot and fist, although the modern emphasis lies on the kicks. This may be a way to help legitimize the sport's connection to the traditional practice called Taekkyon, which originated in Korea during the Goguryeo period in the 4th century. Taekkyon uses hands and feet as well as any part of the body; though only open feet and open hands are allowed during competitions. The motions are smoother and more curvilinear than in Taekwondo. Although both disciplines start with the sound "tae" in English, there is no relationship.
Although there is much controversy regarding the historical origins of many martial disciplines in South Korea, there is little question that, Koreanized or traditional in origin, Korean martial arts and sports have enjoyed considerable success. Styles such as Hapkido, Kuk Sool, Hwarangdo, Han Moo Do, Yudo, Kumdo, Goog-sool, and many others arose quickly out of an independent Korea and have spread to countries around the world. Although they are not as popular as Taekwondo, they each uniquely represent the Korean martial spirit which dates back to antiquity. Unlike Japanese martial arts which often use "-do" at a name's end (meaning "way"), traditional Korean martial arts were called "Mu Sool" or "Mu Yea". This could lead to some confusion since although the "do" in Taekwondo and Hapkido means "way" (as in Karate-do and Aikido), the historical meaning in Hwarangdo is different from the modern usage (also "way" like the others). When that martial art was invented in the 1960s, the name was borrowed from an ancient group (do) consisting mainly of the children of the gentry class (yangban) for learning military tactics, leadership, and fighting skills.
Baseball and Football have traditionally been regarded as the most popular sports in Korea. Polling in 2018 indicates that a majority, 23.4% of South Korean sports fans continue to self-identify as baseball fans, with Football ranked 2nd at 19.2% of respondents. However, the polling did not indicate the extent to which respondents follow both sports.
Baseball was introduced in 1905 by American missionaries and carries a strong following today. Professional teams owned by large conglomerates (chaebols) compete in the KBO League. Korea won the Gold Medal in baseball at the 2008 Olympic Games. Korea is also a regular participant in the World Baseball Classic, and is considered one of the best baseball countries in international competition. Several Korean players have gone on to play in Major League Baseball. The domestic KBO League consistently draws 8 million total fans per year, averaging approximately 11,500 spectators per game, both highest among professional spectator sports in South Korea. There is also an active baseball cheering culture in South Korea, with each team having its own method of cheering.
The national football team became the first team in the Asian Football Confederation to reach the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan. The Korea Republic national team (as it is known) has qualified for every World Cup since Mexico 1986, and has broken out of the group stage twice: first in 2002, and again in 2010, when it was defeated by eventual semi-finalist Uruguay in the Round of 16. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, South Korea won the Bronze Medal for football.
South Korea, which competes internationally under the name of "Korea Republic", has qualified for ten FIFA World Cups including the most recent 2018 tournament (Asian record), and co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, finishing in 4th place. Also in 2010, the country's under-17 women's team won the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago, claiming South Korea's first-ever title in worldwide FIFA competition. The K-League is the oldest domestic professional football league in Asia. A huge number of tiny amateur football gatherings are active and immensely popular.
Another sport gaining popularity in South Korea is basketball. Professional basketball teams compete in the Korean Basketball League. The South Korea national basketball team won a record number of 25 medals at the Asian Basketball Championship. The only Korean NBA player to date has been Ha Seung-Jin who played there in 2004-06. Basketball was the most popular sport in South Korea in the 1990s along with baseball, but its popularity has declined since the 2000s.
Korean martial arts
Taekwondo is the most practiced martial in the country and very popular outside of Korea.
Golf is very popular in South Korea. It is often thought that this is linked to the fact that golf is considered a status symbol. Membership in golf clubs in South Korea is considerably more expensive than in Japan or the US. South Korea is especially strong in women's golf; 47 Koreans play on the world's leading women's tour, the LPGA tour in the [United States]. The best-known Korean golfer is Pak Se-ri.
Ice skating is also a very popular sport which sees kids even as young as 5 years old starting to compete and getting private coaching on a daily basis. National leadership deliberately focused on short-track speed skating as an area of focus to do well in the Olympics and thus encouraged a culture of skating. The sport was first introduced to the country in 1982 by a Japanese university team who competed in an exhibition event, and the South Korean national team was established three years later, in time for the 1986 Asian Winter Games. By the first half of the 1990s they had become a major power in the sport, with Kim Ki-hoon becoming the country's first Winter Olympic gold medallist at the 1992 Winter Games in the men's 1000 metres, and the team winning five golds and a silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Rugby union is played to some degree in South Korea, with the Korean team being currently ranked 24th in the world (as of March 2015) in the current IRB world rankings. Korea have been participating in the Asian Five Nations since 2008 with a 3rd-place finish in 2014. Most of South Korea's national rugby team players play their club rugby in Japan as South Korea doesn't have a professional league. The national rugby sevens side finished third in the Asian qualifier for the 2016 Olympic Games, reaching the final qualifying tournament, but was unable to proceed past first-round group play in the final qualifier.
Korean captain Jang Kun Lee is the most famous international player in the Pro Kabaddi league in India and is currently playing for the Bengal Warriors.
In the 2016 Kabaddi World cup, Korea finished in 3rd place in the tournament, as they lost to Iran in the semi-finals. Korea was the only team to beat the eventual winners and world champions India in the tournament. Korea was also invited to participate in the 2018 Dubai Kabaddi Masters as being among the top 4 Kabaddi playing nations in the world.
Cricket is not that common, but South Korea did enter a national team during the 2014 Asian Games which saw them beat the People's Republic of China. Cricket is mostly played by expats and a league only exists in Seoul and the surrounding suburbs; the side for the Asian Games, which could only draw from South Korean citizens, consisted partially of converted baseball players.
E-sports have found a strong home in South Korea, StarCraft professional competition being the largest example of these. Major corporate sponsored teams and leagues have formed in e-Sports, the most notable leagues being the OnGameNet Starleague, the MBCGame StarCraft League (retired), and Proleague. Some television stations are devoted to broadcasting electronic sports, such as Ongamenet, GomTV, and formerly MBCGame. The Korean e-Sports Association, an arm of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, was founded in 2000 to promote and regulate esports in the country.
On 30 November 2018, Formula E CEO, Alejandro Agag signed an agreement with Moon Jae-sik, chairman of JSM Holdings. South Korea was given the right to hold the Seoul ePrix from 2020 to 2025. It will be first ePrix in South Korea and third Asian country hosting after Hong Kong and China (Beijing and Sanya).
Ice hockey is slowly emerging as fans in Anyang city sees sell-out games for Anyang Halla hockey club, which became the first non-Japanese club to win the championship title for Asia League Ice Hockey. South Korea has 4 teams participating in the Asia League Ice Hockey championship.
Popular throughout Asia, Badminton is played by many Koreans. Badminton nets can be found in many outdoor recreation parks. Korean players often reach the finals in regional and world championships. Bowling is a popular sport in South Korea, with many local leagues. Computerized systems are commonplace.
Hiking on Korea's many mountains is very popular, particularly among older generations. Hiking is a massive industry for clothing companies and for tourism. Hence hiking trails in South Korea have good infrastructure.
Major sport events
The 1988 Summer Olympics were celebrated in Seoul from September 17 to October 2, 1988. They were the second summer Olympic Games to be held in Asia and the first since the 1964 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan.
In the Seoul Games, 160 nations were represented by a total of 8391 athletes: 6197 men and 2194 women. 237 events were held. 27221 volunteers helped to prepare the Olympics. 11331 media (4978 written press and 6353 broadcasters) showed the Games all over the world.
North Korea, still officially at war with South Korea, and its allies, Albania, Cuba, Madagascar and Seychelles boycotted the games. For differing reasons, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Albania (who declared an Olympic-record fourth consecutive boycott) did not participate in the Games. However, the much larger boycotts seen in the previous three Summer Olympics were avoided, resulting in the largest ever number of participating nations to that date.
South Korea has won more medals in the Winter Olympics than any other Asian country with a total of 45 medals (23 gold, 14 silver, and 8 bronze). South Korea ranked second in the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics medal table with ten gold medals, only losing to the winner by taking fewer silver medals.
The 2018 Winter Olympics took place in Pyeongchang between 9 and 25 February 2018. Pyeongchang won on its third consecutive bid. After a series of large cities (Nagano to Sochi), for the first time since Lillehammer 1994 the Winter Olympics returned to a mountain resort.
FIFA World Cup
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was held in Korea and Japan with extreme success. More than 10 million Koreans came to the streets to support their team in the semifinals against Germany.
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the 17th staging of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan from 31 May to 30 June. It was also the first World Cup held in Asia, and the last in which the golden goal rule was implemented. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, beating Germany 2–0 in the final. Turkey beat South Korea 3–2 in the third place match.
Korea professional sports
International Championship Host
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