Outside of the United States, sports fans in South Korea are one of the best fandoms around the world. Whether they are cheering for their favorite sports team within South Korea or in a different professional sports league in another country (i.e. NBA in the U.S.), and/or even cheering for South Korea’s national sports teams during the Olympics, their endless amount of dedication, enthusiasm, and support for their favorite teams or athletes is truly outstanding. From their fan chants that are always in unison to fans being all decked-out in their favorite team’s merch, sports fans in South Korea know the significance of both teamwork and team spirit. While K-Pop fans are known for giving off this incredible positive energy to their favorite artists to also being the most spirited and vibrant consumers, South Korea sports fans are just as passionate and unified as K-Pop fans -- and that alone shows how significant and impactive sports is in both Korean society and culture.
In South Korea, sports is one of those common interests that brings people together, in which their own communities have been built around their favorite sports teams. And the amount of pride and team spirit that is exhibited by Korean sports fans when it comes to cheering for the few Korean athletes who play abroad in another professional sports league is just unparalleled. Only a handful of Korean athletes have gone from Korea’s professional sports leagues to the most renowned sports leagues in the world. For example, trying to play in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) to playing in the MLB, or from the Korean Basketball League (KBL) to the NBA, is unfortunately a very rare thing to see. But for MLB all-star pitcher, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and volleyball goddess, Kim Yeon Koung, they are a part of that rare minor percentage of Korean athletes who got to play abroad in the world’s best sports leagues. But the greatest thing about these two specific athletes is that they always show their pride of their home country, even when they are playing in a different environment in a different country. From Kim Yeon Koung wearing the South Korean flag around her shoulders during the award ceremonies in Turkey, to both her and Hyun-Jin Ryu playing on South Korea’s national team at the Olympics, is very humbling to see -- which is why they get so much love and support from the people in South Korea.
While Koreans enjoy watching their own professional sports leagues, they are also sports fanatics when it comes to players and teams in another country, such as the NBA and MLB. From idols confessing who their favorite NBA player is, such as Stephen Curry, to who their favorite soccer player is, such as Messi, sports fans in South Korea have love for both sports and other athletes around the world. And in fact, South Korea has their own NBA and MLB merch stores that any sports fan can go to, to get the most fashionable and comfortable official team merch -- and you’ll even see K-Pop idols wearing merch from these stores as well! And with athletic wear always being a trend, Korean brands like Fila, are making a huge statement in entertainment as well.
Written by Brianna