Major League Baseball as a forged national pastime: constructing personalized national narratives in South Korea
Abstract Baseball was introduced to Korea by American missionaries in 1905 but the sport was popularized in Korea during the Japanese Occupation (1910–1945). Baseball in Korea thus took root in relation to two colonizers: Japan and the US To date, the popularity of baseball among Koreans can still be explained in terms of their relationships with their past colonizers. For example, given the historically constructed status of America as the ‘modern’ Other, the success of a Korean player in the American Major League Baseball may provoke euphoria, nostalgia and nationalism. Nationalism is most pronounced whenever the Korean national team meets the Japanese at an international baseball tournament; the victory is, for fans, akin to having ‘avenged’ the oppressive Japanese occupation of Korea. This paper argues that recent developments of Korean MLB fans show that the globalizing processes of baseball have fed their nationalism vis-à-vis their past colonial administrators.
Keywords: baseball, nationalism, global sports, postcoloniality, South Korea
Younghan Cho is an assistant professor in Graduate School of International and Area Studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, Korea. He received his Ph.D. degree in Communication Studies from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Asia Research Institute at National University of Singapore. His research interests include media and cultural studies, global sports and nationalism, and Internet ethnography in Asian contexts. His papers have appeared in numerous journals, including Inter-Asia Cultural Studies(2008), Media, Culture and Society(2009), Sociology of Sport Journal(2009) and Cultural Studies(2011).