Monday, October 23, 2006
Our First Question!
why are Korean men such awesome pool players?
Jeff C., New York.
You submitted the first question ever to the Korean! A special prize (a jar of extra-aged kimchi) is on your way.
Korean men on average do excel at pool (but not the Korean, who is merely average.) And it's for the same reason why Chinese people excel at ping pong - it's a game where you can play in a limited space. Most Koreans in the U.S. are from Seoul, and Seoul is really a big fucking city, with about 20 million people in the metro area. The city is crowded and congested everywhere, and the forms of entertainment that don't require much space developed very well. (Starcraft at the nearest PC Bang, anyone?)
Speaking of pool, Korean people traditionally (and by "traditionally", I mean since 40 years ago or so, when Korea was modern enough to have any sort of organized entertainment,) play "straight carom billiard". Korean people probably won't understand you if you said "straight carom"; they would know it as "sa-gu", meaning "four balls." (Or Lance Armstrong times 4.) This involves having the aforementioned four balls on the table without any pocket, two red and two white (cue) balls. Each player owns each cue ball, and they get a point each time their cue ball makes contact with both of the red balls. But since about 15 years ago, 8-ball pocket pool became more popular, and a pool hall in Korea or K-town typically have both. Sa-gu is more difficult and sophisticated since it involves a lot of non-linear movement and projection of movement after impact. Plus it deals with bigger balls, which is the representation of what Korean men are all about.