The South Korean people take part in and enjoy a wide variety of sports. The success and advancement of South Korea in recent times has resulted in major international sporting events scheduled in South Korea, like the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
The South Korean government has been very supportive in promoting sports in its country and has participated in promotional campaigns for the development of new sports technology and awareness, including the funding of all types of sports campaigns.
As the host nation, South Koreans were delighted to see their football team make it to the FIFA semifinals in 2002 which dramatically improved the country’s image in the sporting world. South Korea also holds the record in Asia for qualifying in World Cup finals five times in a row since 1986.
South Korea is also to host to the Olympic Games in 2018 and has a long history of participation and success in prior Olympic Games. Since 1948, athletes from South Korea have participated every summer and winter in the Olympic Games as well as other major international sporting events like golf, baseball, archery, table tennis, shooting, skating and swimming.
In 1988, SooNyung Kim was declared the Female Archer of the 20th Century by winning six Olympic medals including four gold ones. She is the most successful South Korean in the history of the Olympics. South Korean archery still dominates the world in multiple international events with the highest number of Olympic gold medals among all other competing nations of the world.
South Korea has also performed well in the golf, having produced top class golfers like Pak Se-Ri, Kim Mi-hyun and Shin Ji-yai who have won LPGA and US Open Gold Championships. In tennis, Lee Hyung-taik became the very first South Korean to win a major tennis event by winning the Adidas International held in Sydney in the year 2003.
South Korea is also the birth place for Taekwondo and holds ten Olympic gold medals to this day. South Korea is an active promoter of this sport and has succeeded in spreading it to over 153 nations of the world with an estimated 40 million practitioners.
The most popular sports in South Korea are soccer, volleyball, baseball and basketball. Traditional forms of sports include ‘Ssireum’ which has many followers and clubs to practice these sports. Mountain hiking is also popular, given that over 70% of South Korea’s population belongs to the mountainous regions.
Since sports are one of the best means to narrow gaps between nations, South Korea has used it well to improve relations with North Korea by participating in its sporting events. North Korea has responded favorably by sending its athletes to South Korea in recent international events.