What Sports Do South Korea Play?

Discover the most popular sports in South Korea and learn a little bit about the country’s athletic history.

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Traditional sports

South Korea has a long tradition of sport and playing games. The most popular traditional sport is TaeKwonDo. Taekwondo is a Korean martial art, characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques.


Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae (태, 跆) means “to strike or break with the foot”; kwon (권, 拳) means “to strike or break with the fist”; and do (도, 道) means “way”, “method”, or “path”. Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the way of the foot and fist” or “the way of striking and kicking”. Taekwondo is characterized by its emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques.


Archery is a traditional sport in South Korea, with a long history dating back to prehistoric times. It was first introduced to the country by Chinese migrants in the 3rd century BC, and quickly became popular among the Korean people. Archery remains popular to this day, and is played both competitively and for recreation.

The game of archery involves shooting arrows at a target, with the goal of landing as close to the center of the target as possible. Archery can be played individually or in teams, and there are a variety of different competitions that take place both nationally and internationally.

In South Korea, archery is most commonly played using the traditional Korean bow, which is slightly different from the bows used in other parts of the world. The Korean bow is shorter and has a double-curved shape, which makes it more suited for use in horseback riding. Archery remains an important part of traditional Korean culture, and is often featured in historical dramas and movies set in ancient times.

Janggi (Korean chess)

Janggi (Korean chess) is a strategic board game that has been popular in Korea for centuries. The game is played on a 9x9 board, with each player having 16 pieces: 8 pawns, 2 rooks, 2 knights, 2 elephants (similar to bishops), a general (similar to a king), and a councillor (similar to a queen). The objective of the game is to capture the opponent’s general.

Janggi has many similarities to Chinese chess (xiangqi), but there are also some important differences. Perhaps the most significant difference is that janggi allows for greater freedom of movement for the elephants, which can move up to three squares in any direction. This makes janggi a more aggressive and fast-paced game than xiangqi.

Janggi is a popular game in Korea, both amongst casual players and professional tournament players. If you’re interested in learning how to play, there are many online resources that can help you get started.

Ssireum (Korean wrestling)

Ssireum is a traditional Korean sport that has been around for over 1,500 years. It is a form of wrestling that involves two opponents trying to throw each other to the ground. The sport is played on a sand-filled circle, and the match is won when one of the wrestlers either throws or pins his opponent to the ground.

Ssireum is still a popular sport in South Korea, and there are several ssireum competitions held every year. The sport is also popular among North Korean athletes, and it was even included as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Soccer is the most popular sport in South Korea. It is followed by baseball and basketball. Volleyball, golf, and handball are also popular sports in the country.


Soccer is a hugely popular sport in South Korea, with fans of all ages regularly attending matches to support their team. The national team has qualified for the World Cup on several occasions, and they reached the semi-finals in 2002. The women’s national team is also very successful, having won the World Cup in 2015.

There are two professional soccer leagues in South Korea: the K-League and the WK-League. The K-League is made up of 16 teams, while the WK-League has just eight teams. These teams are based all around the country, from the capital city of Seoul to smaller towns and cities.

Soccer isn’t just a popular spectator sport in South Korea; it’s also enjoyed by many people as a hobby. There are plenty of amateur leagues and local tournaments taking place throughout the year, giving everyone a chance to get involved.


Baseball is one of the most popular sports in South Korea. It is played by children of all ages, from elementary school to college. The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) is the professional baseball league in South Korea, and consists of 8 teams. The KBO was founded in 1982, and the season runs from March to October.


In South Korea, basketball is a popular sport. The Korea Basketball Association (KBA) is the governing body for men’s professional basketball in South Korea. The organization also oversees the country’s women’s professional basketball league, the Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL). The KBA was founded in 1948 and currently consists of 10 teams.

Basketball was first introduced to Korea by American missionaries in 1884. However, it was not until after World War II that the sport began to gain popularity. In 1953, the KBA was founded and the first professional basketball league in the country began play in 1960. Today, basketball is one of the most popular sports in South Korea. Tens of thousands of people play the sport at the recreational level and there are dozens of professional players who compete in the KBA and WKBL.


Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in South Korea. It is played by both men and women of all ages, and there are many opportunities to play in both recreational and competitive leagues. The sport is also a popular spectator sport, with many people attending professional matches.

Olympic sports

Short track speed skating

Short track speed skating is a winter Olympic sport that originated in the United States. It is currently practiced by countries all over the world, including South Korea. Short track speed skating is similar to traditional speed skating, but it takes place on a shorter track and has more turns.

South Korea is one of the most successful countries in Olympic short track speed skating, having won more medals than any other country since the sport was introduced to the Winter Olympics in 1992. South Korean skaters have won a total of 18 medals in Olympic short track speed skating, including 8 gold medals.

Some of the most successful South Korean short track speed skaters include Kim Yuna, Ahn Hyun-soo, and Lee Ho-suk.


South Korea has been a powerhouse in the world of competitive curling since the sport was introduced to the Winter Olympics in 1998. The South Korean women’s team has won a medal at every Olympics since then, taking home the gold in 2018. The men’s team has also been successful, winning a silver medal in 2018.

Figure skating

South Korea is a powerhouse in the world of figure skating. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the country won five medals in the sport, including gold in the team event.

South Korea has produced some of the world’s most accomplished figure skaters, such as Kim Yu-na, who won gold at the 2010 Olympics, and Yuna Kim, who is a two-time Olympic medalist.

South Korea at the Olympics

Sports are a big deal in South Korea. So much so that the country takes great pride in its athletes and its teams. At the 2018 Winter Olympics, South Korea brought home a record-setting 13 medals. And, in the 2016 Summer Olympics, the country won 28 medals total. South Korea is a powerhouse when it comes to many sports like figure skating, speed skating, short track, archery, and more.


South Korea first competed as an independent nation at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. At the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea achieved global recognition when it became the first and only Asian country at that time to host the Summer Olympics. It has participated in every Summer Olympic Games since then, and in every Winter Olympic Games since 1948. As of 2018, South Korea has won 1,109 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, and 23 medals at the Winter Olympic Games.

Hosting the Olympics

In 2018, Pyeongchang, South Korea, will host the XXIII Winter Olympic Games, and in 2020, Tokyo, Japan, will host the XXXII Summer Olympic Games. South Korea will be the first Asian nation to host the Winter Olympics twice, having previously hosted them in Seoul in 1988. It will also be the second eastern Asian nation to host the Summer Olympics; the first was Beijing, China, in 2008. The two cities were selected at the 130th International Olympic Committee Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 7th, 2013. They beat out Annecy, France; Munich, Germany; and Zaragoza, Spain.

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