In the wake of yesterday’s depressing loss, I thought I’d give you a little unrelated levity – baseball related, but not really Reds baseball related. This is Shi-won.
She’s the plucky heroine of Answer Me 1997 – a cute high school cable show currently airing in Korea. The story is set in 1997 in Busan, which is the second biggest city in Korea, at the very southern tip of the peninsula. Her father is some kind of coach for a baseball team called the Busan Seagulls. That’s a fictionalization of the Lotte Giants, who are located in Busan, and are nicknamed the Seagulls. Busan is known to be baseball crazy – Giants fans are the craziest of all KBO fans, and they lead the league in home game attendance every year.
In Episode 8, Dad is scouting local high schools for talent. At Busan High School, he rants to the coach, who is trying to convert a promising pitcher into a hitter. Dad insists that this is ridiculous, that the kid should stick to pitching.
Apparently, they’re trying to send him off to MLB, but Dad says not to give him false hope. The kid grabs his bags and heads to the weight room, revealing the name on the back of his jersey.
Yup, it’s ‘future’ Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who was indeed a highschool student in Busan in 1997. Given that Choo is hitting .284/.366/.465 this year, it’s safe to say that Shi-won’s dad may not have the best eye for baseball talent.
At the end of the episode, Dad goes to Kyung Nam high school to look at another high school player. This guy is also a pitcher, but the coach wants to switch him to hitting. Similarly, Dad thinks this is a bad idea. “He’d be too slow to reach home plate even if he hit a home run” (Dad, have you seen Prince Fielder?!”), “I used to be a catcher, so I have a good eye for pitchers.” So, who is this distinguished 90s alumnus of Kyung Nam?
Yup. Mr. Dae-Ho Lee. Lee is maybe a little less familiar to MLB fans, unless they’re really into the WBC or KBO. Lee actually moved this year to the Japanese team, the Orix Buffaloes. It’s a cute joke, but Lee actually pitched for a long time on both the junior national team, and after being drafted by the Lotte Giants (on the recommendation of Shi-won’s dad, I’m sure). He didn’t switch to hitting after an injury during his KBO rookie year. In 2006, he won the KBO triple crown, and in 2010 he won the ‘septuple’ crown, leading the KBO in batting average, home runs, RBIs, OBP, SLG, hits, and runs scored). This year, with 20 home runs, he leads the Pacific League, just ahead of former Red Wily Mo Pena.
The rest of the drama is pretty cute, too, but mostly involves meta-jokes about late 90s k-pop groups, and brother-rivalry love triangles (no incest). I’ll be on the lookout for more 90s Korean baseball references though. (If you so desire, you can watch it all, with subtitles, at dramafever.)