WHY DO KOREAN WOMEN DOMINATE WOMEN’S GOLF?
Tune to any live golf tournament, I promise you that you will find a Korean name, if not names, on the leader board. As the four-time The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) champ, Jessica Korda said, “Korean women are dominating LPGA,” and numbers back up her statement. From 1988 when Ku Ok-hee 구옥희 became the first Korean to win the LPGA Tour, the trophy was lifted over 200 times by Korean female golfers, and the trend is likely to continue. So what’s the secret behind the success of the Korean female golfers? It goes back to 1998, when Pak Se-ri 박세리, now a World Golf Hall of Famer, won the LPGA Tour with an incredible birdie shot. The victory meant so much to the Korean people who were suffering from the aftermath of the Asian Financial Crisis, or the “IMF Era.”
Many Koreans identified themselves with her and felt as if they won a difficult battle against the world. It was an inspiration and a consolation. Watching her rise to stardom, many Korean parents wanted their kids to become the next Pak Se-ri, and the generation of “Pak Se-ri Kids” became a reality. As of 2020, there are over 60 Korean golfers in the LPGA, a world of a difference from when Pak Se-ri was the only Korean player competing in the LPGA. Combined with the arduous training (we’ve already covered how zealous Korean parents are with education, so this should go without saying), and a large pool of aspiring players, the success is not that surprising.
WHY DO KOREANS DOMINATE ARCHERY?
The writing (painting) is on the wall! A Goguryeo mural painting muyongchong suryeopdo 무용총 수렵도 depicts the Goguryeo people hunting animals with bow and arrow while writing on horseback. It looks so natural that the practice was a routine training activity for the bodies and the minds of Goguryeo people.
In fact, ancient Chinese people used to call Korean people dong-i-jok 동이족 , which means “people who are good at shooting arrows.” The DNA must have passed on to the decedents, which should explain why Korean archers dominate the world.
And if the U.S. basketball team is the indomitable “Dream Team,” the Korean archery team deserves the same status. The fact that the Korean archery team holds 12 of the 14 world records in the Olympic Games, and sweeps the gold medals in world competitions, proves how formidable they are. The Korean archery team is a ruthless tyrant. Surprisingly, the Korean archery team wasn’t all that good at the beginning. Until the 1970s, their performance was just so-so, compared to how Korea was doing in other sports. But with proper training methods, full support from the association, and the relentless efforts of the Korean archers, they were able to rise to the throne. Another important aspect is the creativity in their training methods – to cope with the loud noises coming from the audience, they practiced at a noisy baseball stadium full of audience, and even visited a cemetery at midnight, to have the nerves of iron.
As a result, they developed the ability to maintain their cool, regardless of the situation. Awed by the Korean dominance, many foreign archery teams hired Korean coaches to transform their teams. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, 8 archery teams (Taiwan, Spain, Malaysia, USA, Japan, Mexico, Iran, Malawi) had Korean coaches.
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