Matthew Dewoskin has become an authority on Korean baseball. Along with building up a following on his blog, True Stories of Korean Baseball, Matthew writes for a Busan based magazine, Busan Haps. Matthew was kind enough to sit down and take a few minutes to answer some questions on being a foreign journalist in Korea.
You have built up a following with your blog on the KBO. Did you have a favorite team back in the States as well?
Absolutely. I’m a lunatic for the Chicago White Sox team.
Do you still follow the MLB or that team?
I never stopped.
How long have you been in Korea?
About four years.
I have seen other people use your blog as a reference for anyone who wants to follow the KBO. What got you interested in writing about the KBO?
I was frustrated by the lack of KBO info in English, so I decided to start doing it myself. I also wanted to learn the Korean words for baseball terms and blogging helped with that.
Do you get most of your information for your daily updates from Korean websites?
About 95% of it.
How would you compare the KBO to MLB?
The biggest difference is the facilities. Korea hasn’t really put any money into upgrading their facilities since the 80′s and they need it desperately. As far as the on field product, the KBO is about AAA or AA level, but I think a lot of the top talent would do well in the US. We might get a chance to see Hanhwa ace Ryu Hyeon-jin make the jump next year. I think he’d make a great reliever. I’m not sure if he could start every fifth day for 162 games.
You also write for a magazine on the city of Busan, Busan Haps. How did that start?
The editor of the site made me a “Godfather Offer.” He basically said, “Write for me and you could talk to Jerry Royster every week.” Jerry doesn’t always answer his phone and I don’t always have time to chase him, but it’s cool having some access.
When you get the chance to go to games, how receptive are players to a foreign journalist?
I’ve only had a press pass once and I spent more time with Jerry than I did with the players. Lotte DH Hong Seong-heun spoke English and I was able to beg Lee Dae-ho into taking a picture with me. The Giants staff wasn’t very receptive to having non-Koreans hanging around. We weren’t allowed in the press box.
What about the coaches?
Honestly, I didn’t really meet any of them.
Are you able to interview any Korean players?
Funny you ask. There should be an interview with Lee Dae-ho going up at the Busan Haps site sometime soon.
I won’t ask you about any “bad guys” in the league, but I am always interested in hearing who is a really nice guy. Have you come across any in the KBO during your time here?
The few players I’ve met have been absolute gentlemen. I’ve never had a bad experience with a player. Except CJ Nitkowski. All the guys on Lotte were awesome and the few Samsung Lions I’ve met have been great. Samsung manager Sun Dong-yeol is one of the nicest guys on the planet.
How many games do you make it to in a given year?
As many as possible. I’ve only made it to about fifteen this year. Last year I made it to over 30.
Do you have a favorite stadium in the KBO?
Incheon’s Munhak Stadium. It’s by far the best ballpark in the KBO. Beautiful facility. They really made an effort to make Munhak different than the other cookie cutter stadiums in the KBO. The foliage in the outfield. The hydraulic boat for the cheerleaders. The modern upper deck. The wide concourses. It’s like a real stadium.
Thoughts on who might win this year in the KBO?
SK has to be the odds on favorite, but I’m excited to see the Lions in the Korean Series. I think Samsung’s pitching matches up well with SK and the opportunistic Samsung offense should provide enough runs to keep Samsung in the series.
Have you had the opportunity to travel and see baseball overseas anywhere?
I’ve been to a few games in Japan.
Where is the one place you would like to see a baseball game that you havne’t?
I’d really like to see a game in Cuba.
I’d like to thank Matthew for taking the time to answer some questions. If you are interested in learning more about the KBO, head on over to his website, True Stories of Korean Baseball. There is a lot of good information there. Also check out his articles for Busan Haps where he covers the Lotte Giants (perhaps the most popular team in Korea).