Korean baseball fans face ‘Royal Dilemma’ in ALDS

October 2, 2014
Sung Woo Lee, center, speaks to the local media after arriving at Kansas City International Airport Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. Lee is a Kanas City Royals fan from South Korea and came to Kansas City to see his first Royals game. He will see five games and throw out the first pitch on Monday (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Brian Davidson)

Sung Woo Lee, center, speaks to the local media after arriving at Kansas City International Airport Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. Lee is a Kanas City Royals fan from South Korea and came to Kansas City to see his first Royals game. (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Brian Davidson)

By The Korea Times Los Angeles staff

Many Korean Major League baseball fans might be at a crossroads when deciding who to root for in the 2014 American League division series between the Kansas City Royals and the Los Angeles Angels.

It’s because the Royals are having a fairy tale season fueled by South Korean fan Sung Woo Lee, and the Angels have a Korean American player in Hank Conger, whose Korean name is Choi Hyun.

Earlier this year, Lee visited Kansas City for the first time and, either by luck or by coincidence, the Royals went on an unexpected 8-game win streak with an offensive prowess no one could have expected.

Then on Sept. 30, the Royals went on to play their first post season game in 29 years and won it in dramatic fashion.

Hank Conger, Choi Hyun

Hank Conger is one of the reasons many Koreans will be cheering for the Los Angeles Angels. (Korea Times file)

If Lee wasn’t part of the equation there wouldn’t be much of a reason for many Koreans outside of Missouri to give the Royals a second glance. Instead, their focus might go elsewhere, most likely to the team that has a player of Korean descent.

The Angels have just that.

Conger, their 2006 first-round draft pick, has yet to show his full potential. It would be quite the story for him if his career started to blossom in his first ever trip to the playoffs.

One Korean female baseball fan in Los Angeles, identified here only by her last name Sohn, said, “That’s a tough question. Before that Sung Woo Lee story, it wasn’t much of a choice, but… I think I will still root for the Angels since I would like to see the freeway series between Ryu Hyun-jin’s Dodgers and Choi Hyun’s Angels.”

But another Korean fan in Los Angeles had a different take. A 49-year-old Korean American man also admitted that it was a dilemma but said, “I am rooting for the Royals. It’s just such a nice story and I would like for it to continue.”

The best-of-five series starts at Angel Stadium on Thursday at 6:07 p.m. PT. 

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