Monday, November 5, 2012

2010 Korean Set

I picked up a set of Korean baseball cards from eBay a few months back.  It's a 64 card set so it doesn't cover everyone in the entire KBO, just a handful from each of the 8 teams.  The cards themselves resemble the Konami game cards from Japan - obviously these are meant to be used in some sort of collectible card game (in fact they say "2010 Baseball Trading Card Game" on the bottom of each side of each card.

There are seven cards for each team with the exceptions of the Doosan Bears and the Lotte Giants who each have eight cards.  I don't pretend to know enough about Korean baseball to state with any authority at all over whether or not this is a good representation of the best players in Korea or not or if there are any significant players left out.  Off hand, I recognize a couple name - Lee Dae-Ho of Lotte who is now with the Orix Buffaloes and Ryu Hyun-Jin of Hanwha who has asked to be posted to the US.  There are a couple Western players included in the set - Jose Capellan (Hanwha), Edgar Gonzalez (LG), Karim Garcia (Lotte) and Doug Clark (Nexen).  Oddly enough, each of the Western players is only identified by his last name except for Karim Garcia.

Here's some example cards:




In addition to the 58 cards of KBO players, there's a couple subsets for Korean players playing abroad.  There are four cards for the four Korean players playing in Japan in 2010 - Kim Tae-Kyun (Lotte), Lee Beom-Ho (Softbank), Lee Seung-Yeop (Giants) and Lim Chang-Yong (Yakult).  There are also two cards for a couple Korean players in the US - Choo Shin-Soo (Indians) and Park Chan-Ho (Yankees).  For some reason, Park's card is labelled "Chan Ho Park" rather than "Park Chan-Ho".


This is an odd little set.  There's no indication on it who made it.  It does not appear to be Teleca, who made the most recent Korean sets that I'm aware of (1999-2000).  There are the inconsistencies in the naming of the players that I've pointed out.  It's probably unlicensed by the KBO, NBP and MLB.  There's also an oddity with the set numbering.  As you may have noticed, each card number has a two-letter prefix followed by the number.  The prefix identifies which team or subset the card belongs in (AM is the major league players, AJ is the NPB players, AD is the Doosan Bears, etc).  The "AL" prefix ended up being used twice - for the Kia Tigers and for the Lotte Giants.  So there are seven pairs of cards that share the same number.

Another odd item about the cards is that the front of them have "rock-paper-scissors" symbols like old Japanese menko.  I asked Ralph Pearce if he knew if there was a tradition of menko in Korea.  He said yes and pointed out that he actually has a Korean menko (actually called "takji" in Korea) baseball card set from 1983.  However, those cards don't have the "rock-paper-scissors" symbols on them.  He did say that there was a tradition of "rock-paper-scissors" in Korea so maybe that's why they included them on the cards.

According to Thomas St. John, the guy I bought the set from, the cards were sold in clear packs of eight cards each.  Jason pointed me to an entry on a Korean blog that talks about baseball cards (among other things) that showed a display rack of these cards.  Unfortunately for me, the entry was written in Korean (naturally) and for whatever reason has resisted being translated by Google translate or BabelFish. I did try copy-and-pasting the text at the bottom of the post into Google translate.  I think it says something about the blogger finding these cards in a stationary store and regretting not buying more of them.  He also has no idea who made them and suspects that they are unlicensed.

One of the other entries on the Korean blog talks about a baseball card set from 1998 that I was previously unaware of.  I've been learning lately that there are actually a lot more Korean cards than I had known.  I've picked up a bunch of 1994 Teleca cards from Robert Shadlow (another of the Japanese baseball card pioneers)  and I intend to do a post about them in the near future.  Thomas St. John also let me know that he's preparing a book on Korean cards that he hopes to publish next year - it sounds like it will be a comprehensive list of all known Korean baseball cards.


Jason Presley said...

From what I'm seeing, that is Ryu Hyun-jin's only Korean baseball card, unlicensed or not. He already had several WBC cards from Topps and Konami.

NPB Card Guy said...

Looks like the Topps WBC cards are all some form of memorabilia cards - jersey or patch, etc. He didn't appear in any of the "normal" cards.

Jason Presley said...

It's been about 3 years now, any word from Mr. St. John about that book on Korean baseball cards?

NPB Card Guy said...

I contacted him a couple months back. He said that "the book is not yet completed but much is written already. I'm shooting for a summer printing if all is well. " Apparently there's a new baby involved that has taken a great deal of his time. He said to check back with him later this summer.

Unknown said...

I have a few of this unusual Korean Baseball set. I bought them on ebay a couple of years ago. The set has several "Korea Baseball Organization" MVPs included.

Scott Boa
Ingersoll, Ontario

Unknown said...

Scott, I'd love to get my hands on that Ryu card if you'd be willing to part with it.


Dan Skrezyna said...

Dan Skrezyna said...

Just to update, I was able to get the Seung-Yuop Lee card (#AJ001) from this set graded.

Unknown said...

Do you still have the chan ho park card?? Id love to buy it

NPB Card Guy said...

I do but I’m not interested in breaking up the set. Sorry!