Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
On May 5, the Korean Baseball League started. Although the games are going in without spectators due to prevention issues, the games are full of excitement, allowing joy to those who are tired of COVID-19. In the US, where all professional sports have been suspended, KBO, especially the bat flip, has been drawing much attention. In Korea, where interest in professional baseball is high, it has appeared continuously in moves and dramas. Let’s take a look at some of these works.
If Sun Rise Up From West (1998)
It is a romantic film that tells the story of love between the top star and a professional baseball referee, which is as rare as “Sun Rising Up From West”. Unlike other works, professional baseball is not the main subject, but the movie depicts the world of referees that we did not know much about compared to the baseball players. The highlight of the movie is the scene where Bum Soo, who became the chief referee, confesses and kisses Hyun Joo, who is in charge of the ceremonial first pitch at the Korean Series. In fact, Lim Chang Jung and Ko So Young filmed the kiss scene in front of the packed crowd at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in 1998, where the Korean Series actually took place.
Mr. Gam’s Victory (2004)
As KBO has a history of nearly 40 years, some stories are even more movie-like than movies. Mr. Gam’s Victory depicts the story of the Gam Sa Yong, the mop-up pitcher of Sammi Superstars, a cellar-dwelling team, struggling to fulfill the dream of winning one game. Like the famous saying in the movie, “Those who dream for a long time eventually resemble the dreams,” the story of Gam Sa Yong touches the heart of the viewers, going beyond the ground. Lee Bum Soo played Gam Sa Yong, the mop-up pitcher nobody remembers, whereas Gong Yoo played Park Chul Soon, the ace closer of the time.
Perfect Game (2011)
Like Mr. Gam’s Victory, the movie made the true story into a film; the big match between South Korean legendary pitchers Choi Dong Won and Sun Dong Yeol. In the days when the starting pitchers were not announced as they are now, all attention was focused on when the two would face off. The movie vividly depicts the final showdown that lasted till 15th inning on May 16, 1987. Jo Seung Woo and Yang Dong Geun each played the role of Choi Dong Won and Sun Dong Yeol, and presented realistic performances as if they are really a part of an actual game. Jo Jin Woong, famous for being a Lotte fan, played the role of Lotte’s number 4 hitter Kim Yong Chul in the film, achieving his dream as a fanboy.
Mr. Go (2013)
Based on Heo Young Man’s comic “The 7th Club,“ the movie depicts the story of gorilla Ling Ling coming to Korean professional baseball and becoming a home run hitter. Director Kim Yong Hwa, best known for 200 Pounds Beauty and Take Off, directed the film and 30 billion KRW (approx. 24,286,290 USD) went into visual effects of creating Ling Ling. Yet, sloppy stories that fell short of technical skills led the movie to a massive failure in the box office. Since then, director Kim Yong Hwa combined the know-how of computer graphics he learned from Mr.Go with Along With the Gods series, making a huge success.
Hot Stove League (2020)
Also called the Korean version of Moneyball, the drama brought both baseball fans and drama fans together in front of the TV. The story shows the process of the Dreams, a cellar-dwelling team, turning into a championship-caliber club, after Baek Seung Soo is appointed as a general manager. It tried to differentiate itself from existing baseball works by using professional terms such as OPS and WAR, while focusing mostly on the front desk, rather than baseball players. In particular, Baek Seung Soo, who is always a few chess moves ahead, delivered a strong sense of pleasure with his adventurer-like initiatives.