There are all types of Royals Fan, those who follow the team casually and sing along to “Friends In Low Places”, those who follow more intently and cross-reference each pitch against the MLB Gameday pitch tracker. Then there’s the Super Fan which includes Royalman and Superfan Chris.
And then there’s SungWoo Lee. Korean born and raised. And unabashed Royals Fan. SungWoo laughs at the 14 hour difference between Kansas City and Seoul, Korea, SungWoo’s home. He regularly watches games at 9am regularly via MLB.tv.
SungWoo rarely gets a vacation and even more rarely gets any time off from the grueling hours that he works, but he rarely misses a Royals game. He is an avid (and intellectual) tweeter during games and a must-follow Royals fan at his @KoreanFan_KC Twitter page.
And he’s never been to a Royals game in person.
SungWoo is the RamblingMorons 2012 Royals Fan of the Year.
We had a chance to chat with SungWoo and get the story behind his fandom. You’ll find that he shares a lot with the common Kansas Citian… he’s a hard worker, he is bright and funny, he eats a Country Breakfast, and he’s a tortured Royals Fan.
Oh, and he just wants to see Luke Hochevar released.
Here’s my interview conducted via e-mail. I left it in his original English dialect because I think it’s awesome.
RamblingMorons: Where in Korea do you live?
SungWoo: Yong-In, it’s south side of Seoul, which is Capital of South Korea
RM: What is your occupation?
SW: Businessman, working at SAMSUNG for 10 years… Prior that, I got a job at ESPN Korean affiliate for 3 months, I was script writer, but I moved to SAMSUNG for better payment & stable circumstance… And I decided to enjoy sports as hobby, not for my work
RM: How did you get started following and rooting for the Royals?
SW: In 90’s, when I was middle school student, I started to watch AFKN (American Forces Korean Network) for my English. But most of Drama, News and even Sesami street were too difficult for me to start learning English. Only sports broadcast was understandable… that’s the very beginning I followed American Pro sports. I became a huge sports fan of MLB, NBA and NFL.
Fell in love with much more upgrade skill / scale / gorgeous stadiums of American pro sports. Then… What made me of being a Royals fan? Now I can’t tell why… just like many of you, Royals fans, I was sort of… underdog lover? sympathy? With more research & understanding of glorious Royals 70-80’s, I much more liked Royals It was much more thrilled Royals beat big market teams rather than big market teams win against weak teams
RM: What would other typical Koreans be following as far as sports go? Are there any other Korean Royals fans?
SW: Until mid 90’s, AFKN was the only way to watch live (or recorded) game in Korea. But these days, internet is much more better way to follow sports. With Chan-Ho Park(LAD/TEX), Byung-Hyun Kim(ARZ) and Sin-Soo Choo in ML, many Korean baseball fans can watch MLB games via cable TV So MLB is wide spread among young sports fans in Korea, there are many websites/fan forum in Korea, I also had my own Royals fan site when I was college student. (Now I closed)
At that time I knew a few Royals fans thru my site’s guestbook, But I never met other Royals fans in person… But I believe there are some Royals fans in Korea for sure.
RM: Have you ever been to a Royals game?
SW: Nope… I don’t have America visa even. Going to The K is my life-long dream 😉
RM: You’ve seen some disappointing years as a Royals fan, why do you continue to root for the team?
SW: Now I can’t tell what made me of being Royals fan, I just follow Royals without reason. Stressful daily work, following Royals is like… my exit from work, my joy for my life?! (Too exaggerated??)
RM: What are a couple of things you’d like to see in the offseason for the team to improve?
SW: Cut Hochevar now… of course, I’d like to see Royals add decent arm(s), Bring back Greinke! (^.^) Also trade/sign a power bat for some serious pop
RM: Who is your favorite player?
SW: I love all of Royals players, even mediocre farmhands… so difficult question Actually I never watched Brett, Saberhagen, Splittorf and many legendary players… So my favorites are… Sweeney, Dye, Damon, Beltran, Randa and Greinke!! Of course all 40 men on roster in blue!!
RM: What’s the equivalent of a Korean Country Breakfast?
SW: Like any other Asian, Korean style “Country Breakfast” is… streamed rice with soup, seasonal vegetables and KIMCHI must!!
RM: What’s been the worst moment of your Royals fandom?
SW: Well… I’ve taken any bad/worse moments for granted as small market Royals fan… >Worst moment was…. 19-game losing streak? Seeing Greinke let go? Sweeney injury?
RM: What’s been the best moment of your Royals fandom?
RM: If the Royals make it to the World Series, will you come to Kansas City and get tickets to the series?
SW: Whoa! Royals can make it to the World series ever??? Korean work ethic/work circumstance is so notorious… not much vacation Usually Korean has week-long vacation in hot summer season… So I’m not sure I can get a vacation on October (So sad) But If, big If, Royals go to world series, I would try this that one?