How Football Became the Number One Sport in South Korea

South Korea is known to have a rich culture and history. Today, they are most famous for their soap operas and music all around the globe. However, adding to this, South Korea also boasts how it has become a sporting powerhouse. It has consistently performed excellently in international competitions, often being in the top 10 of different sports. They have produced some of the world’s best athletes, such as Kim Yuna in figure skating, Choo Shin-soo in baseball, Park In-bee in golf, and more.

As we can observe, among South Koreans are many sports lovers. With adequate and efficient investment from the government paired with its sports-loving citizens, they can scout, train, and develop young athletes. They help them become experienced through domestic competitions then, later on, moving to international ones. 

The Revolution of Football in South Korea

One of the main factors that boosted the focus on sports, specifically football, in South Korea was the political and economic rivalry among North and South Korea. The competition on ideological superiority among these two countries was laid out in every aspect, especially on being more efficient in directing one’s nation into prosperity. South Korea’s president at the time was President Park. He noticed that a relatively easy and possible way of demonstrating superiority against North Korea is sports. He and his government started associating sporting success with their efforts of achieving a prosperous country. We can observe how this was an excellent strategic move as South Koreans devotedly celebrate their top-performing national athletes as sporting heroes.

In hopes of gaining and overcoming North Korea’s success in football, KCIA (Korean Central Intelligence Agency) started and managed a club called Yangji, with the information they have gathered on North Korea’s secrets to success in football. The agency established this in 1967 and began cultivating young South Korean football talent.

The KCIA was able to ignite the football revolution in South Korea through sports analysis and the information.  They were able to acquire the data from two South Korean football officials in their study of what had transpired in the World Cup that was held in England with North Korea’s football team’s superb performance.

Although the club, Yangji, was dissolved due to internal politics, the top players developed throughout the years of training and competing continued to play through football clubs that were newly-founded and sponsored by banks. However, the government maintained its ties with football. The number of bank-sponsored teams consistently grew with intra-bureau football matches organised on Saturdays back in 1968. Many aspiring talents found bank-sponsored football teams as great options since they are offered a career in these banks after football. Many famous football athletes eventually transitioned into becoming bank managers after their football careers.

Amidst the political backdrop playing a significant role in all these, it is essential to note that the media had helped transform football in South Korea in the 1970s through sports broadcasting. It was reported in 1973 that the sales of TV sets skyrocketed to a 400 percent increase comparing it to 1969. South Koreans even described international football broadcasts as ‘unmissable’.

Football fever became even hotter with South Koreans watching the games on TV in their homes or tearooms (Dabang). This became a communal experience for them. Sports broadcasting is one of the most significant elements that paved the way for football to become the most popular sports in Korea. Although in this advent of technology, sports broadcasting is now available in more than just through televisions or radios. Now having the Internet, many South Korean viewers watch sporting events like the football league season through different websites. You can avail of this option too with the help of 슈어맨 to check the quality of service these sports broadcasting and sports analysis websites have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *