Bourgo: Why Koreans call baseball ‘yagu’

From SABR member Patrick Bourgo at the Korea Times on November 5, 2014:

With the Korean Series underway between the Nexen Heroes and Samsung Lions, one is likely to hear the word “yagu” wherever one goes, from offices to watering holes.

“Yagu,” meaning baseball, is a familiar term for anyone with a passing interest in the sport in Korea. However, few know where and when the term originated.

The answer to that question is a fascinating one, illuminating the history of the sport here and echoing the nation’s own turbulent past.

Baseball has been played in Korea since the late 19th century, toward the end of the Joseon Dynasty. The earliest reported use of the word baseball in a newspaper in Korea, in English, occurred in the mid-1890s, but at the time, the old fashioned spelling ㅡ “base ball” ㅡ was used.

When looking at the history of a particular word, it is important to remember that many Korean words have Chinese characters (called “hanja” in Korean), and can be written in either hanja or hangeul. It also should be noted that until recently, it was common for hanja to be used in published writing, such as newspapers, instead of hangul.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: November 5, 2014. Last Updated: November 5, 2014.