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Korean baseball draws in fans for record breaking season

The Korean Baseball Organization league has been breaking attendance records over the past couple of years and this season is definitely no exception.

Since the season opened on April 7, the nation’s eight stadiums have seen more than a million fans come out to enjoy one of Korea’s favorite pastimes. The professional baseball league hit the 1 million mark in just 65 games, a new record after the league hit the mark within 79 games in 1995.

While baseball in the United States, the home of the game, is struggling with an ever-dwindling number of spectators, the overwhelming popularity of the sport here has taken officials by surprise. 
Baseball fans pack Seoul’s Jamsil Stadium. (Yonhap News)
Baseball fans pack Seoul’s Jamsil Stadium. (Yonhap News)

On April 1, KBO officials expected to draw in a record 7.1 million fans in 2012, but on Sunday officials said that even the 8 million mark may be possible. Officials say the record numbers can be attributed to the presence of international players like Park Chan-ho, Lee Seung-yeop and Kim Tae-kyun, who have returned from abroad.

According to the KBO, baseball attendance sky-rocketed after Korea’s national team took home gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, possibly making Korea the last Olympic gold medalist in the sport’s history. Baseball will not feature at the next Olympics in London this year because of an earlier decision by The International Olympic Committee.

Also, Korea’s taking second in the World Baseball Classic in 2009 helped hook more fans on the sport.

As of Sunday, the Lotte Giants had the greatest attendance with 247,590 fans attending its Busan park since the first pitch of the season, followed by 201,390 SK Wyverns fans in Incheon. Seoul’s Doosan Bears and LG Twins followed behind with 182,381 and 162,218 fans, respectively.

By Robert Lee (
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Korea Herald daum