Friday, January 02, 2015

Leftovers from 2014: The KC Superfan

Note:  To make good on TK's promise to blog more, he will give a series of short posts discussing his impressions of Korea-related news with international flavors from 2014 that he could not quite get to last year. First up is Mr. Lee Seong-woo, the KC Superfan.

Lee Seong-woo, a/k/a Kansas City Royals Superfan

The marvelous story of Lee Seong-woo is a testament to the close relationship between Korea and the United States. Obviously, Lee's story is quite unlikely--which is why it became so viral. But Lee's story was able to overcome the unlikelihood because he was based in Korea. 

There was no superfan unless Philip Gillette, an American missionary, introduced baseball to Korea in 1907. (Recall that, on a global scale, baseball is a relatively regional sport.) There was no superfan unless Korea developed a robust baseball culture, which was clearly influenced by the American baseball culture. There was no superfan unless there was the U.S. troops stationed in Korea, as Lee watched the Major League Baseball on AFKN (now AFN,) the television network for the U.S. soldiers stationed abroad. Finally, there was no superfan unless there was a healthy amount of exchange of people, ideas and stories between the U.S. and Korea.

In Lee's story, parallels with other parts of Korean pop culture are numerous. Korean pop music, for example, moved to another level in the 1950s and 60s because Korean pop musicians had to cater to the U.S. troops who were stationed in Korea following Korean War. Later, K-pop became a global phenomenon as Korean pop musicians consistently knocked on the door of the American pop music market.

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