What is South Korea’s national sport?

What is South Korea’s national sport?

South Korea, a vibrant and dynamic country in East Asia, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and diverse traditions. Among the many aspects that define this nation, its national sport holds a special place. South Korea’s national sport is an integral part of its history and identity, showcasing the passion and competitive spirit of its people. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of South Korea’s national sport, exploring its origins, significance, and its enduring popularity among both locals and international enthusiasts.

History of sports in South Korea

Traditional Korean sports

Traditional Korean sports have a rich history that dates back centuries. These sports were not only a form of entertainment but also played a significant role in Korean culture and society. One of the most popular traditional Korean sports is Taekkyeon, a martial art that emphasizes fluid and rhythmic movements. Taekkyeon has been practiced in Korea since the Joseon Dynasty and continues to be a beloved sport today.

Another traditional Korean sport is Ssireum, which is a form of traditional wrestling. Ssireum matches are held on a circular sandpit, and the objective is to force your opponent to touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet. Ssireum has been a part of Korean culture for centuries and is often showcased during traditional festivals and events.

Introduction of Western sports

With the arrival of Western influence in the late 19th century, Western sports started to gain popularity in South Korea. This introduction led to the adoption and integration of various sports into Korean society. One of the first Western sports to be introduced was baseball, which quickly became a favorite among Koreans. Today, baseball is one of the most popular sports in South Korea, with professional leagues attracting large crowds and a dedicated fan base.

Football, or soccer, also gained traction in South Korea during this period. The sport was initially embraced by Korean students who studied abroad and brought back their passion for football. Over time, football became a widely played sport in schools and communities, leading to the establishment of professional football leagues and the national team’s success on the international stage.

Development of modern sports in South Korea

The development of modern sports in South Korea accelerated after the country’s independence in 1945. The government recognized the importance of sports in promoting national unity and fostering a healthy lifestyle. As a result, various initiatives were implemented to support the growth and development of sports infrastructure and programs.

South Korea’s modern sports scene is diverse and includes a wide range of sports such as basketball, volleyball, golf, and swimming. The country has also excelled in sports like archery, table tennis, and badminton, winning numerous medals in international competitions, including the Olympic Games.

In conclusion, the history of sports in South Korea is a testament to the country’s rich sporting heritage. From traditional Korean sports to the introduction of Western sports and the development of modern sports, South Korea has embraced sports as an integral part of its culture and society. This passion for sports continues to thrive, making South Korea a nation known for its sporting achievements and enthusiastic participation.

Popular sports in South Korea


Taekwondo is a widely popular sport in South Korea and is considered the national martial art of the country. It originated from Korea and has gained global recognition for its dynamic kicks and fast-paced movements. Taekwondo has a rich history in South Korea, with strong cultural and traditional roots. It is not only practiced as a sport but also as a form of self-defense and a way to promote physical and mental well-being. The sport has produced numerous world-class athletes from South Korea who have achieved great success in international competitions.


Baseball holds a special place in the hearts of South Koreans, making it one of the most popular sports in the country. Introduced by missionaries in the early 20th century, baseball quickly became a national obsession. South Korea has a professional baseball league known as the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), which attracts a massive fan following. The sport’s popularity skyrocketed when the South Korean national baseball team won the Olympic gold medal in 2008 and reached the finals in 2009 World Baseball Classic. The passion and enthusiasm of South Korean baseball fans are unparalleled, with packed stadiums and vibrant cheering during games.


While not as dominant as taekwondo or baseball, football (soccer) has been steadily growing in popularity in South Korea. The national football team, known as the "Red Devils," has achieved notable success in various international tournaments, including reaching the semifinals in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. The South Korean professional football league, known as the K League, has also gained attention in recent years. Many South Korean football players have made their mark in European leagues, further boosting the sport’s popularity and inspiring young talents in the country.

South Korea’s love for sports extends beyond these three mentioned, with other sports like golf, volleyball, basketball, and archery also having significant followings. The diverse sporting culture in South Korea reflects the nation’s passion for athleticism and the pride it takes in its sporting achievements.

The national sport of South Korea holds immense cultural significance and serves as a symbol of national pride. Taekwondo, a martial art form that originated in Korea, has been officially recognized as the national sport since 1971. It embodies the values of discipline, respect, and perseverance, and has gained worldwide recognition for its dynamic kicks and powerful strikes. Taekwondo not only showcases the athletic prowess of its practitioners but also reflects the indomitable spirit of the Korean people. With its rich history and global popularity, Taekwondo continues to inspire and unite individuals, both in South Korea and around the world.

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