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South Korea has traditional sports of its own, but sports imported from the West are predominant. Popular sports include hiking, football, baseball, basketball, swimming, athletics, and boxing.

Contents

Traditional sports

There are various forms of folk dancing still practiced in Korea. Although not commonly considered a sport, traditional mask dance drama is physically demanding[1].

Kite flying is considered a sport in East Asia[2]. Kites are flown during the first few days of the Lunar New Year and Chuseok. It is not, however, a major league sport as it is in Thailand[3]. The traditional Korean kite is made of bamboo sticks and traditional Korean paper[4].

Bull fighting (So Ssa-eum) in Korea features two bulls fighting each other. The bulls butt heads and attempt to push the opponent backwards. The first bull to move backwards loses the game[5]. Many people tip on bulls that they think are going to win. The owner of bull named Glamorous made 1.2 million dollars from tipping alone.

Korean wrestling (Ssireum) is similar to Sumo wrestling from Japan. Korean wrestling is played in a sandy ring, and the contender who throws his opponent to the ground wins a point[6].

Sports originating from Korea

Taekwondo, a popular martial art originated in Korea. Taekwondo means technique of kicking and punching, although the emphasis lies on the kicks. Even though it was practiced for centuries—its origins have been traced as far back as the 1st century BC[7]—it only became popular after World War II. It became standard military training in korea, and in 1961 the rules were standardized[8].

Taekkyeon is a traditional martial art that originated in Korea during the Goguryeo period in the 4th century[9]. It uses open hands and the feet, whereas the use of clenched fists is not permitted. The motions are smoother and more curvilinear than Taekwondo[10].

Hapkido is another martial art from Korea, although not as popular as Taekwondo outside the peninsula. Hapkido developed during the Three Kingdoms and shares many characteristics with the Japanese Aikido.[11].

Popular sports

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

Football is the most popular team sport in Korea. South Korea has qualified for eight FIFA World Cup finals including the upcoming 2010 tournament (Asian record), and co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, finishing in 4th place. 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.

Baseball is very popular spectator sport in South Korea. It was introduced in 1905 by American missionaries and carries a strong following today. Professional teams owned by large conglomerates (chaebols) compete in the Korea Baseball Organization. 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 widely considered one of the best baseball countries in international competition. Another U.S. sport gaining popularity in South Korea is basketball. Professional basketball teams compete in the Korean Basketball League.

2008 K-League Winner, Suwon Samsung Bluewings

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[12]. Bowling is a popular sport in South Korea, with many local leagues. Computerized systems are commonplace[13].

Fishing and hiking are common activities in South Korea. Fishing is popular in streams, rivers, and the oceans. There are arranged fishing tours[14]. Hiking in the Korean mountains is very popular, and weekend after weekend popular areas fill with people.

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[15]. 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[16].

Scuba diving is popular on Jeju island.

Korea is home to a number of good downhill skiing slopes. Snowboarding was not allowed in most resorts until recently.

Rugby union is played to some degree in South Korea, with the Korean team being currently ranked 23rd out of around a hundred nations. Korea will participate in the 2008 Asian Five Nations, the inaugural Asian Five Nations.

Table tennis is popular in South Korea[17]. There are minor leagues in many universities.

E-sports have found a strong home in South Korea.

Major sport events

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Olympic Games

The Olympic Games were held in Seoul in 1988.

North Korea and South Korea marched together in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, and were likely to do so again in 2008, however they did not. (See Sports in North Korea.)

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.

Asian Games 2014

References


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