Baseball has longer history in Korea than thought: official

SEOUL – Baseball was introduced to Korea one year earlier than commonly thought about a century ago, the head of the sport’s national governing body claimed on Tuesday.

Lee Byung-suk, president of the Korea Baseball Association (KBA), told reporters that a review of historical records revealed that the sport was introduced to the country in 1904, rather than 1905 as had been documented in other publications.

“We have to correct the history of baseball in Korea,” Lee said. “We’ve asked the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Education to revise related information in current textbooks and other documents.”

Lee said the KBA, which governs amateur baseball, also asked the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), which oversees professional leagues, to help correct the game’s history.

According to publications such as “The 70 Years of the Korean Olympic Committee” from 1990 and “The History of Korean Baseball” from 1999, baseball was introduced by an American missionary named Philip Gillette in 1905.

The KBA contended that earlier texts, including “The History of Joseon Baseball” written by sports journalist Lee Gil-yong in 1930, and “Rules of Baseball,” published in 1947, state that baseball arrived in Korea in 1904.

The KBA explained that Na Hyun-seong, a former professor of physical education at Seoul National University, erroneously wrote in his 1958 book, “The History of Athletics in Korea,” that baseball was introduced in 1905, and subsequent documents have since referenced Na’s claim.

An official with the professional KBO agreed that baseball was likely introduced in 1904, but added that the formal correction of the game’s history will require authorization from the National Institute of Korean History and other relevant government agencies.

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