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Korean Baseball (KBO): News, Notes and Where to Watch

 Conor Liguori - World Baseball Network  |    Jun 17th, 2024 2:54pm EDT

As the KBO season progresses, here is a look at the top news and notes from the past week in Korea’s highest level of professional baseball.  

Global Streaming Platform SOOP Live Streaming KBO Games

This past Thursday, the global streaming platform SOOP began live-streaming KBO games for free. According to the Korea Times, SOOP owns the rights to KBO games until the end of the 2026 season.  

The KBO announced that SOOP will stream postseason games and highlights from completed games. KBO fans can catch all the action for free via the SOOP website or mobile app.  

The league garnered overseas attention in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when ESPN broadcast games for viewers in the United States. Due to the pandemic, Major League Baseball was not playing its regular season.  

Bear’s SP Gwak Been Voted Player of the Month for May

This past Tuesday, pitcher Gwak Been of the Doosan Bears was elected the KBO’s best player for May.  

Gwak went 4-0 in May with a 1.48 ERA and 29 strikeouts in five starts for Doosan. Led by Gwak, the Bears went 16-8-2 during May, the best team record last month. According to Yonhap News Agency, Gwak received a trophy and 2 million won ($1,450 United States dollars) for being named the player of the month.   

The 25-year-old righty represented South Korea in the 2017 U-18 Baseball World Cup and 2023 World Baseball Classic and is 5-6 with a 4.10 ERA in 15 starts for the Bears in 2024.  

KIA Tigers Closer Jung Hai-young Finishes First in All-Star Voting

For the first time in the history of the KBO, a closer finished first in All-Star voting. KIA Tigers closer Jung Hai-young is the first to accomplish the feat.  

According to the KBO, Jung received 1,396,077 votes. Catcher Yang Eui-ji of the Doosan Bears finished second with 1,326,773. The league uses a fan-voting system in which 70 percent of the votes come from fans, and league players make 30 percent.  

So far, in 2024, Jung is second in the league with 20 saves and owns a 2.08 ERA, striking out 34 in 30.1 innings. The 22-year-old will play for the Nanum team against the Dream team in the KBO All-Star game at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, South Korea, on Saturday, July 6.  

This Day in Korean Baseball History  

On June 17, 2022, South Korean starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu of the Toronto Blue Jays underwent a revision UCL reconstruction flexor tendon repair, also known as Tommy John Surgery, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season.  

Ryu returned to the Blue Jays on August 1, 2023, to make his season debut. The lefty went 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 11 starts.  

This past February, Ryu signed an eight-year, 17 billion won ($12,324,020.80) contract with the Hanwha Eagles, the largest contract in KBO history.  

KBO Standings as of Monday, June 17  

  1. KIA Tigers (41-28-1) 
  2. LG Twins (40-30-2) 
  3. Doosan Bears (40-31-2) 
  4. Samsung Lions (38-31-1) 
  5. SSG Landers (36-33-1) 
  6. NC Dinos (34-34-2) 
  7. Hanwha Eagles (30-37-2) 
  8. Lotte Giants (29-37-2) 
  9. KT Wiz (28-41-1) 
  10. Kiwoom Heroes (27-41-0) 

Photo Credit: Pitcher Gwak Been #47 of Doosan Bears throws in the top of the first inning. (Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)

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Conor Liguori - World Baseball Network