Thanks to the generosity of a GW alum whom I met at the dinner reception, I was able to attend a Korean baseball game with one classmate. The Sunday game between the LG Twins (a Seoul team) and the Lotte Giants (from Busan) was sold out, but we were treated to some VIP tickets right behind the plate, two rows up.
The stadium had plenty of American fast food, as well as some Korean adaptions of ballpark food. While the game itself is very similar to American baseball, the crowd interaction is a bit more fervent. Each team has its own cheering section, specific cheers as well as cheerleaders, who rotate based on which team is on offense. Thundersticks, which apparently were born in Korea, were quite prevalent among the home crowd.
It is a bit difficult to know where teams are from, as they are named for the company that owns them and not the city where they play. Korean chaebols were encouraged by the government to buy teams as somewhat of a corporate social responsibility, although the teams have proven to be quite popular among an increasingly sports-loving populace.
Korean baseball is now a pretty serious business, and Koreans take lots of pride in their national team’s performance, especially against Japan. As I expected, many Koreans passionately follow Koreans in MLB, and the stadium was replete with Cleveland Indians’ caps.