Karina of the girl group aespa throws the first pitch before the second game of a doubleheader between the SSG Landers and Lotte Giants during the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on June 9. Yonhap

KBO League is on the verge of surpassing 6 million attendees in the first half of the season for the first time in its history.

As of July 2, a total of 5.93 million spectators had attended 408 games. With 10 games remaining, the league needs just 70,605 more attendees to reach this milestone, the Maeil Business Newspaper and other reports said Wednesday.

The league’s popularity has been boosted by Ryu Hyun-jin’s return to the Hanwha Eagles and the overall competitive balance among the 10 teams.

The average attendance per game has increased by 32 percent compared to the previous season.

LG Twins leads in average home game attendance with 18,604 spectators per game, followed by KIA Tigers, Doosan Bears, Lotte Giants and Samsung Lions. Hanwha Eagles achieved a 94 percent seat occupancy rate, while Kiwoom Heroes, with the lowest average, still drew over 10,000 fans per game.

Younger fans and an increase in the number of women heading to games have significantly contributed to this surge. The percentage of 안전 spectators in their 20s rose to 38 percent, and women now account for 54 percent of ticket purchases, surpassing men by nearly 10 percent.

This trend contrasts with the aging fan bases in American and Japanese baseball.

The influx of younger and female fans has rejuvenated the league, making it the envy of other professional baseball leagues globally.

Industry experts attribute the rise of female fans in their 20s to an increased enjoyment accessible through baseball and the influence of social media.

Photos of fans cheering in team uniforms at games are popular content on social platforms.

More women are also becoming knowledgeable about baseball and enjoy a deep interest in the game. It’s common to see young women watching baseball broadcasts on their phones while commuting.

Han Ji-hye, a office worker in her 20s, said, “Going to a spacious baseball stadium after work to cheer loudly and enjoy chicken and beer wipes away all the stress. I’m a Doosan fan, and having a team to support makes it so much fun.”

In response to the growing baseball craze, cinema franchise CGV recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the KBO to screen KBO League games in its theaters, aiming to create a new fan culture and maximize the synergy between baseball and cinema.

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