What Sports are Popular in South Korea?

Different sports are being played in different countries. In fact, each country can possibly have their own local or traditional sports that have become popular in many parts of the world. One of the most popular countries in Asia, where people love sports, is South Korea. They have lots of traditional or regional sports, such as Tae Kwon Do, which is a type of martial arts, Jokgu, which resembles a mix of football and volleyball, and as well as Ssireum, which is folk wrestling style and the traditional national sport of South Korea.

As the years pass, South Korea is slowly getting westernized, as well in many aspects, and that includes sports. This is the reason why aside from the traditional sports we’ve mentioned above, most South Koreans today also enjoy other sports that originated from other countries, especially from the United States. If you are wondering about the prevalent sports in South Korea, you’re in the right place. Today, we are going to give you a list of the most popular sports in South Korea.

Tae Kwon Do

men competing in Tae Kwon Do
Tae Kwon Do is the biggest contribution of Korea to the world of sports. It was believed that the historical origins of this famous martial art were from the Korean peninsula and can be traced as far back as the 1st century BCE. However, others say that it can from the influences of other neighboring countries.

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Tae Kwon Do features some of the most beautiful moves in the world of martial arts, making it the most recognizable Korean sport. Tae Kwon Do’s formal rules were established in 1961, and it became an Olympic event in 1988. Even though there are some controversies about the historical origins of this sport, it has enjoyed considerable success as a ‘Koreanized’ sport.

Baseball

baseball court/field
Aside from Tae Kwon Do and other traditional martial arts, another very popular sport that South Koreans love is baseball. This sport was introduced in South Korea in 1905 by American missionaries, and today, it carries a strong following. In 1982, the Korea Professional Baseball league was established, which is a 10-team circuit. In 2008, South Korea won the gold medal in baseball at the Summer Olympics.

South Korea is also a regular participant in the World Baseball Classic. In fact, the country is considered to be one of the best baseball countries when it comes to international competitions. There are also lots of Korean players who have gone on to play in Major League Baseball.

Every year, the domestic KBO League is being held, and it draws 8 million total fans, averaging to about 11,500 spectators per game. Aside from that, South Korea also has an active baseball cheering culture, and each team has their own cheering method.

Association Football

South Korean football team
Football is another popular sport in South Korea. The national football team of South Korea was the first team in the Asian Football Confederation to reach the FIFA World Cup semi-finals back in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which they also hosted together with Japan.

South Korea also competes internationally under the name of Korea Republic. The team has qualified for ten FIFA World Cups. In 2010, South Korea’s under-17 women’s team won the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup that was held in Trinidad and Tobago. It was the country’s first-ever title in worldwide FIFA competition. The oldest local professional football league in Asia is also in South Korea, and it’s called the K-League. When you visit South Korea, you will find a lot of tiny amateur football gatherings that are active and popular.

Basketball

 the starting lineup of South Korea’s basketball team in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup
Basketball is one of the most popular sports in many countries, and that includes South Korea, as well. There are also many professional basketball teams in South Korea that compere in the Korean Basketball League. The national basketball team of South Korea had also won a total of 25 medals at the Asian Basketball Championship.

Ha Seung-Jin was the only Korean NBA player to date, and he played there from 2004 to 2006. In the 1990s, basketball was the most popular sport in South Korea, along with baseball. However, since the 2000s, there’s a decline in its popularity. But it is still a widely played sport in the country.

Golf

a South Korean woman playing golf
Golf is a very popular sport in South Korea, and it is usually thought that it is linked to the fact that gold is considered a status symbol. Compared to the United States and Japan, golf membership in South Korea is considerably more expensive. The most popular Korean golfer is Pak Se-ri. And when it comes to gender, South Korea is stronger in women’s golf. In fact, there are 47 Koreans who play on the worlds leading women’s tour in the United States, which is the LPGA tour.

Ice Skating

person wearing ice skating shoes
Ice skating is another very popular sport in South Korea. In fact, kids as young as 5 years old start training and competing in ice skating tournaments. This sport was introduced first in South Korea in 1982 by a Japanese university team who competed in an exhibition event. Three years later, the South Korean national team has been established and became a major power in the sport. South Korea’s first Winter Olympic gold medalist was Kim Ki-hoon during the 1992 Winter Games in the men’s 1000 meters. The Korean national team also won five gold medals and one silver medal in ice skating at the 19994 Winter Olympics.

E-Sports

 inside an e-sports stadium in South Korea
Aside from the usual sports, E-sports or electronic sports have also found a strong home in South Korea. These are competitions of computer games and as well as console games. One of the largest examples of these is the StarCraft professional competition, which is very popular in South Korea. In fact, there are television stations in the country that are devoted to broadcasting electronic sports, like MBCGame, GomTV, and Ongamenet. In 2000, the Korean e-Sports Association was founded. It is an arm of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism that promotes and regular esports in the country.

These are some of the most popular sports in South Korea. But other than those popular ones, there are also many South Koreans who enjoy playing other sports, such as volleyball, archery, fencing, table tennis, cricket, ice hockey, and as well as motorsports. We hope that this list was able to help you in discovering the popular sports in South Korea.