Professional sports are back this week here in South Korea starting with the 2020 KBO baseball season tomorrow in time for Children's Day and K League this Friday.
Our Sports editor, Paul Neat, is in the studio today. Paul, the big countdown is finally on
Yes, indeed. We are less than 24 hours away from the KBO season finally getting underway and in just a few days the K League season will kick off.
We know what the schedules look like as they were released last week, and, in KBO, we also know who the starting pitchers will be too after Sunday's Media Day. Three South Korean pitchers will start the season, the most since 2016.
That's great. Can you tell us who to look out for, which players have been pinpointed as being important for their respective teams?
Sure, due to Social Distancing measures still being in place, Sunday's Media Day took place online for the first time ever.
During which, we learned that there will be 3 homegrown players as starting pitchers, Yang Hyeon-jong of Kia Tigers, who play Kiwoom Heroes, Baek Jung-hyun from Samsung Lions, they play NC Dinos, and Cha Woo-chan of LG Twins.We have not seen this many Korean pitchers start on opening day since 2016 (4), in 2017 all 10 teams sent foreign players out to the mound, and in 2018 it was 9, 2019 8.
We also heard which foreign players each captain is looking forward to seeing in action. Aaron Brooks of Kia Tigers and Chris Flexen of Doosan Bears were singled out by several captains. Both are former MLB players and set to play in KBO for the first time.
There are lots of interesting matches taking place tomorrow.
Which one will fans be looking forward to the most?
Well, defending Champions Doosan Bears will get their season underway against rivals LG Twins. These two teams share the same stadium and will not want to lose against each other. LG Twins, though, will not have their two American right-handers, Tyler Wilson and Casey Kelly, available which will hinder them. Whereas Doosan won the Korean series last year, LG have not won the Korean series since 1994 and haven't appeared in it since 2002 so will be looking to get off to a good start.
As well as KBO, K League is back this week.
With an international audience set to tune, what can fans look forward to?
In at least 10 foreign countries, and potentially eight more, fans will be able to tune in to the season opener on Friday, Jeonbuk vs Suwon. These two teams have already played some competitive matches this year in the Champions League but weren't in the best form. Suwon lost both their matches, Jeonbuk managed to earn a draw against Sydney but lost against Yokohama F. Marinos at home so they will be looking to bounce back.
On Saturday. Last year's runners up, Ulsan Hyundai, who signed Korean international Lee Chung-yong during the winter, start at home to Sangju. Meanwhile, newly promoted Busan IPark are away to Pohang Steelers and Jeju United start life in K League 2 against Seoul E-Land.
Before you go, Paul, I believe there has been some positive news with the KLPGA?
That there has, after delays due to COVID-19, the KLPGA Championship will resume later this month and several of the sports top stars look set to take part. Ten-time LPGA winner Kim Se-young * as well as reigning US Women's Open Champion Lee Jeong-eun are planning to take part. Meanwhile, world no. 3 Park Sung-hyun and world no. 13 Kim Hyo-joo have also been rumored to be taking part. According to Yonhap, the tournament will get underway between May 14th and May 17th.
Thanks for that roundup, Paul. We will see you again on Friday.