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Sports in South Korea - Statistics & Facts

The Korean sports industry is growing rapidly. As the income level and leisure time of Koreans has increased, having a healthy lifestyle has become more important. In addition, global sports stars such as soccer player Son Heung-min and figure skater Kim Yuna have boosted interest in sports. As a result, the participation rate of regular sports activities to maintain health is increasing across all generations. The size of the sports industry has steadily increased with 4.4 percent annual growth over the past five years and reached 78 trillion South Korean won in 2018.

Sports facilities in South Korea are diversifying because of people who want to try out new sports. In particular, the number of fitness studios has increased by 150 percent compared to a decade ago, which shows that the number of people participating in sports regularly has increased. Recently, fitness studios have expanded their offerings to provide personal training or scientific fitness management services; allowing people to enjoy sports more efficiently and smartly. The golf population is also rising, along with the size of golf facilities. The number of outdoor practice ranges and indoor or screen golf courses has also increased significantly. Screen golf courses have specifically gained popularity as people can easily practice golf regardless of the weather or time of day.

Since the 2002 FIFA Korea-Japan World Cup, Koreans have shown an increased interest in professional sports. Ticket sales at matches and other sporting events grew by 40 percent since 2014. Domestic sports spectators totaled 11.5 million in 2017. The four major spectator sports were baseball, soccer, basketball, and volleyball. In particular, professional baseball has gained younger fans as they enjoy going to the stadium as a form of entertainment. As of 2017, the professional baseball league (KBO League) attracted the largest audience in its history. As Korea's professional sports are based on a city where the home stadium is located, each local government is trying to attract a professional sports industry that will have a positive effect on the local economy.

The revenue of the sporting goods industry in South Korea is larger than any other sports segment. Its biggest sector is sports clothes and shoes. However, the South Korean sportswear market has continued to remain sluggish in recent years. It is mainly due to the decreased sales of outdoor clothing brands led by lower consumption of mid-aged people. Also, the sportswear market is occupied by global brands such as Nike and Adidas, so the trade deficit continues to increase. Accordingly, the sports goods industry is trying to develop products in various fields such as leisure goods, camping goods, and water sports goods.

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Sports in South Korea

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