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Taekwondo, a popular martial art, originated in Korea. Taekwondo roughly translates to the way of punching and kicking, although it is sometimes translated as the way of the hands and feet. It became standard military training in South Korea, and in 1961 the rules were standardized and taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000. Taekwondo in the military is an integral part in the Korean land forces. Other Korean martial arts include subak and taekkyeon.

Baseball was first introduced to Korea in 1905 by an American missionary named Phillip Gillette and has since become the most popular spectator sport in South Korea. The first South Korean professional sports league was the Korea Baseball Association, established in 1982. During the 2006 World Baseball Classic, South Korea reached the final four before losing to Japan. Prior to that final match, the South Korean team was the only undefeated team, and had beaten Japan twice and the United States once.

Other popular sports in South Korea include basketball, football, golf, tennis and ice hockey. Women's golf is especially strong, with 45 South Koreans playing on the world's leading women's tour, the U.S. LPGA Tour, including stars such as future Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak. South Korea's Olympic teams have also traditionally performed strongly in archery, shooting, badminton, table tennis, fencing, weightlifting, boxing, judo, short track speed skating, taekwondo, kumdo, wrestling as well as handball and field hockey.

In 1988, South Korea hosted the Summer Olympics in Seoul. There is an ongoing campaign to have a future Winter Olympics held in Pyeongchang County. South Korea has hosted the Asian Games in 1986 and 2002.

The 2002 FIFA World Cup was jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan, and South Korea became the first Asian team to reach the semi-finals. The Korea Republic national football team, also known as the "Taeguk Warriors", qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany for their sixth consecutive World Cup.

During the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin the South Korean short track team dominated their event, taking home six of the eight gold medals available as well as three silvers and one bronze. Skaters Ahn Hyun Soo and Jin Sun-Yu were the second and third persons in the Games to win three gold medals.

Video games take on a sport-like presentation in South Korea, the most popular of which being Starcraft. Although not recognized as a sport in its own right, the professional leagues are televised through channels such as MBC Game and OnGameNet with announcers, professional players and big-name sponsors such as Adidas. The three major professional Starcraft leagues are Proleague, MSL and OSL. See StarCraft professional competition for more information.