Baseball has been a popular game in South Korea. The reason for this popularity of the game is primarily because of the American influence during the temporary US Occupation of the southern part of the Korean peninsula post World War II after Japan’s retreat. While many American cultural tit-bits can be observed in present-day South Korea, baseball seems to top all of them.
Korean Baseball Organization (KBO)
The nation’s affinity towards baseball led to the foundation of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) in 1982. The KBO started with six teams, which steadily increased to the current strength of ten teams. The KBO is responsible for two major baseball leagues played in the country:
- KBO League (Major League)
- Futures League (Minor League)
The amateurs baseball league is not managed by KBO but one of its counterparts named The Korean Baseball Association.
The rules that are followed by the KBO are heavily influenced by its American peer, the Major League Baseball (MLB). The most striking rule that defines the KBO is the rule of the designated hitter, which is universal to the KBO.
How does the money flow into the KBO leagues?
The answer to this question is quite simple. It is via the sponsors that the teams represent. There are other secondary areas of equal money contribution like broadcasting rights taken by the major domestic media houses like KBS, MBC, 먹튀, etc. as well as international ones like ESPN, Fox Sports, etc. Apart from these areas, ticket sales of the matches, fan engagements, etc. also help in rolling money in the system.
The main reason that corporate houses spend money on the baseball team is solely for their advertisement and promotional purposes, given the huge fan base of the game in the country. The game season usually runs from late March or early April to early October. However, the year 2020 witnessed a delay and started in early May because of the ongoing pandemic situation.
Another interesting feature about the game season in KBO is the cheerleading. Usually performed by young girls during the breaks in the game, cheerleading in baseball games has been also borrowed from the American culture. Currently, these cheerleading events also attract quite a large sum of money.
The system has its own downside as well. Unlike other major leagues of the world, the clubs taking part in the matches were formed before their managing organizations, which helped to uphold the players’ rights to change teams from one season to another. However, since KBO was formed before its participating teams, the players could not change the clubs of their free will.
This practice resulted in lacking performances and the competitive balance went for a toss thereby reducing the popularity of the KBO League to large. During the mid-1990s, a professional baseball players association was formed that looked after the players’ rights. Recently, the KBO is bringing in some changes to ensure players’ rights are taken care of, thus bringing back the luster to the game.