To put the title more accurately, this post is really everything that I know about Korean baseball cards.
After reading the recent news that former Doosan Bears pitcher Lee Hei Chun had joined the Swallows, I thought it'd be good to write a little something about Korean baseball cards. From what I can tell, there haven't been a lot of baseball cards for the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). The KBO started in the early 1980's, so obviously there's not a huge stretch of history to be wondering about. My biggest reference on this (other than just what I've seen out there) is Rob Fitts' Korean baseball card page.
So anyway, as far as I know, Korean baseball cards were limited to team issued sets - kind of like American minor league sets until 1999. That year, Teleca issued the first "American style" set - a 232 card set sold in packs (with various insert cards including autographed cards). They also issued a 100 card high end set called "Premium" and a 23 card All Star set (that I assume was sold in a box like the BBM All Star sets, but I don't know that for sure). The packs of the Premium set were interesting as they were little boxes rather than the traditional packs. The following year (2000), Teleca issued another 200+ card pack-based set, although I have no knowledge of them doing either a Premium or All Star set. After that, it does not appear that anyone has issued any Korean cards. Rob has nothing later than the 2000 cards on his website, and I've never seen anything else on Ebay (at least nothing I could date).
So, in a nutshell, other than some team issued sets, the only serious Korean baseball cards were produced by Teleca in 1999 and 2000. If anyone has more information than this, please let me know.
I like the two "regular" sets a lot. The 1999 cards have no borders and the 2000 cards only have a border on the bottom, so I find them very attractive, even if I have no idea who 95% of the guys are. The Premium set...not so much. They're silvery with no backgrounds to the pictures, kind of like Diamond Heroes or Topps Finest. They just aren't my cup of tea.
Here's some sample cards. First, from the 1999 regular set, the aforementioned Lee Hei Chun (#11) and Lee Seung Yeop (#80):
From the 1999 Premium set, Felix Jose (#47) and Koo Dae Sung (#75):
From the 2000 set, Kim Min Jae (#41) and Charles "Bubba" Smith (#71).
Bubba Smith is a legend in minor league baseball and it was because of him that I ended up getting some Korean cards in the first place.