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K-Sports

Growing Into a Global Celebration

 

2020.07.13

 

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the world, economic and cultural activities in many countries shrunk in size, not to mention those in Korea. Sports were not an exception. The infectiousness of COVID-19 made it difficult for players and audiences to gather in stadiums, bringing all the professional sports games to a halt across the world, including the Premier League and MLB. Even the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games set to be held in Japan were put off to next year due to the pandemic; things just became gloomier day after day.
Professional sports games in Korea also faced challenging conditions, but thanks to proper responses such as installing a watertight quarantine system and carrying out matches without an audience, the KBO League (Korea Baseball Championship) greeted the new season last May, followed by the K-League (Football League). While global sports fans were eagerly waiting for matches of the teams they root for to be hosted, this opening of professional sports seasons in Korea soon became the talk of the town. Adding tailwind to the global attention Korea was receiving, the live broadcast rights of the KBO League and K-League were sold overseas, inviting the global audience to enjoy Korean professional sports games together.
With continuous feedback and encouragement from global fans of Korean professional sports games, the situation provided an opportunity for Korea to promote their professional sports leagues to the world, ironically with the help of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Korea’s professional sports games are being enjoyed around the world and across borders; many are wishing for them to become another “K-Wave”. To support this developing phenomenon we would like to introduce sport-themed Korean books.

 

COVID-19 ironically helped Korea’s professional sports leagues to be promoted across the world.

 

 

Fun, interesting and imaginative books about sports

 

<The Last Fan Club of Sammi SuperStars>

<My Ball>

The Last Fan Club of Sammi SuperStars, My Ball

 

Sports are not just about winning or losing. They also contain stories. For the audience, sport gives them a little piece of memory to be recalled later in the future, while it becomes a story of success and failure for the players. This is why sports can become an optimal source of story for a magnificent novel. The winner of the 8th Hangeorae Literature Award in 2003, The Last Fan Club of Sammi SuperStars (HaniBook), is a humorous satire on the competitive society and capitalism motivated by the actual Korean baseball team “Sammi SuperStars” who had been the last team to win in tournaments every year except in 1983. The story, which seems to resemble the portrait of our generation where we all just seem to be falling out of competitions, drew huge popularity from not only baseball fans but also from the general public.
A picture book about baseball My Ball (Munhakdongne) is the first picture book by Yoo Jun-Jae who won “The NOMA Concours for Children's Picture Book Illustrations in 2007. It is a biographical story of the author starting from the day when he first received a baseball bat and a glove from his father as a gift, all the way to 1982 when the KBO League was first established and until the moment he became a grownup. This generation-crossing picture book depicting the author’s reminiscence of the time he spent with his father touches the emotional yet sensitive minds of children and also adult readers.

 

<Unstoppable Super Star!>

<Football Player with 100 Years of Training>

Unstoppable Super Star!, Football Player with 100 Years of Training

 

Football is one of the most widely spread sports games in the world today. Books that feature football are filling the shelves with love from K-League fans. Football is also often used as a topic for web-novels, which has become another genre among web-novel readers building a fanbase of its own. Unstoppable Super Star! (Poten) and Football Player with 100 Years of Training (Munpia) began publishing series in 2018 on Munpia, a Korean web-novel platform, and were then officially published in a full series as e-books in 2019. Unstoppable Super Star! is about a football player who was kicked out of Manchester United, a famous team in the Premier League, and strives to become a superstar after receiving a gift from God. Meanwhile, Football Player with 100 Years of Training talks about a 17-year-old boy meeting an old man who calls himself a football master, who then gets to practice football for 100 years. By mixing football with creative concepts such as “back to the past” and “extraordinary ability,” web-novels of this kind provide a fresh experience to their readers.

 

 

Story of Sport-Lovers

 

<What I Thought While I Was Playing Soccer>

<Number 36, Lee Seung-yeop>

<It is Not the End Yet>

What I Thought While I Was Playing Soccer, Number 36, Lee Seung-yeop, It is Not the End Yet

 

Sports essays accessibly written by sport-lovers were popular among Korean readers as well. In particular, biographical essays written by Korean players reaping remarkable results at both home and abroad were hugely loved by the Korean readership. What I Thought While I Was Playing Soccer (Brainstore Books) is a truthful story about the life of a star football player Son Heung-Min, a representative football player next to Park Ji-Sung. Narrating the story of a little soccer boy in Chuncheon filled with dreams growing up to be a world-renowned football player, the book became a bestseller the moment it was published, proving the “son”-sational (a combined word of Son Heung-Min and the word “sensational”) power of Son Heung-Min in the publication market as well. Meanwhile, Number 36, Lee Seung-yeop (Gimmyoung) is a book announced by homerun-maker and no.1 hitter in Korea Lee Seung-yeop as he retired from the professional baseball league. The book presents the story of the pain he had to endure, efforts he put into baseball, and numerous decisions he had to make during his days as a baseball player. Also, It is Not the End Yet (Gayeon Books) written by Kim Yeon-Kyung, the top volleyball player in the world, is a candidly-written story about dreams she wishes to tell the readers in her positive voice.

 

<Gorgeous but Intrepid Female Football>

<Do You Like Basketball?>

Gorgeous but Intrepid Female Football, Do You Like Basketball?

 

Another book to note among sports essays is Gorgeous but Intrepid Female Football (Minumsa) published in 2018 by Kim Honbi, which became a hot topic after it was introduced in one of the major daily papers. Even called a must-read essay on daily sport, it is a story about women who are in love with playing football. Being an essay on football, it uses football as a metaphor to refer to the body, life, and the world of women; it was widely praised by numerous female readers and gripped their imaginations. Also, it was chosen as one of the recommended books for teenagers by Bookteen.net, the first website for teenage readers and Kyobo Bookstore, a major bookstore in Korea, marking the 2020 Year of Teenage Books (established by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism).
Another popular essay is Do You Like Basketball? (Sam & Parkers) by Son Dae-Bum, who is called the “basketball scholar” among basketball fans. Son Dae-Bum is also an editor at Jumpball (J&J Media), a monthly basketball paper. Do You Like Basketball? brought its title from a popular scene in Slam Dunk (by Takehiko Inoue), a famous Japanese basketball comics. The book offers warm consolation to basketball fans by talking about how we can brighten up our life by doing what we like.

 

Sports in Korea delivers an in-depth message to its fans across the world with enthusiastic passion and heartwarming resonance.

 

<Let’s Play with Faker!>

<20-Year-History of E-Sport (2008-2017)>

Let’s Play with Faker!, 20-Year-History of E-Sport (2008-2017)

 

On top of the abovementioned books, sports-related books in Korea come in different styles including “guide books” with professional tips and know-how, books containing statistics and big data analysis (core components of modern sports), monthly magazines featuring domestic leagues, and simply-written books for children. Meanwhile, Korea is also being recognized as a strong country for e-sports, too. As such, many e-sport related books such as Let’s Play with Faker! (VegaBooks Co.), a book about a famous professional gamer and 20-Year-History of E-Sport (2008-2017)(GamToon), which organized the 20 years of e-sport history, are increasing in number.
Even though the opportunity for “the Korean Wave (Hallyu) of Sports” was given amidst a globally difficult time, the enthusiastic passion and heartwarming resonance provide an in-depth message to sports fans across the world. How about we take the experience to the next level with Korea’s sports books?

 

 


Written by Choi HaYeong

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Choi HaYeong

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