Sports in South Korea: Golf, Baseball and classes - 65
To say Koreans are competitive is an understatement. Even learning or doing sport is taken very seriously in Korea. If a Korean takes up a sport such as tennis, squash, table tennis or inline skating, it is standard to take a number of lessons when taking up the sport. The western concept of participating in a sport just for the pleasure of it, is an alien concept for many people in Korean culture.
Learning Sports Korean style
In Korea, if you take up a sport, you are expected to learn how to play or do it well. Many people of all ages, if deciding to take up tennis for example, will take tennis classes - often in excess of ten lessons which seemed to me almost like an extension of the Korean work day, making it even longer than it already is. In a way though, the Korean way is logical, in that you might as well learn the correct techniques if you plan to do a sport.
To a Westerner, playing something whether you are good or not at it, jut for fun is more common. According to your own point of view, the Korean way of participating in sport is good or bad, although for me, as someone who gets frustrated when my girlfriend cannot even hit the ball back when I play tennis, I kind of like the Korean way of starting off a in a new sport.
Tae Kwon-Do, Baseball and golf
There is nothing more Korean sports-wise than Tae-Kwon-Do, a form of martial arts which my own friends, in my home city in Plymouth, England participate in. Tae Kwon Do is world famous, and the Tae Kwon Do sports centre can be found near Kangnam in Seoul. In the Greece 2004 Olympics, Korea took two gold and two bronze medals in the four Tae Kwon Do events.
For a country of Korea’s size, the 2004 Summer Olympics were a sporting success and in a country that has had many problems in the past, national sport seems to unite the Korean people in a special way. In Greece Korea finished with a total of 30 medals (9 Gold, 12 Silver and 9 bronze) to finish overall in ninth place. The games in 2004 must be considered a success and now the pressure is on to perform well in the 2008 Olympics in nearby China.
Golf and Baseball in South Korea
Golf is also a very popular sport in Korea, with Korea in recent years having produced some of the very best female golfers in the world, with golfers such as Pak Se-Ri, Kim Mi-Hyun and Grace Park. Despite the limited space in Seoul, you can still find golf centres right in the centre of built up areas. The driving ranges are designed with huge nets securing the area and do not be surprised to see them in between a block of business buildings - The way in which space has been used is very clever.
The influence of America is also very evident in Korean sports, with the popularity of baseball and basketball. Korea has its own Baseball league, which goes by the name ‘K-League’ with the K standing for Korean.