Skip to main content

Can this Korean super fan bring luck for the Royals?

By Madison Park, CNN
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
  • Unlikely story about a Korean fan of the Royals made waves this summer
  • Lee SungWoo will be returning to Kansas City to watch World Series
  • Lee won over the city and Royals fans by his unrelenting loyalty to the team

(CNN) -- He's a bespectacled, middle-aged South Korean guy with a corporate job. But he has already swept Twitter and the international media, which swarmed him at the airport as he departed.

The uber fan who captured the heart of Kansas City is to arrive at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday for Game 1 of the World Series.

Lee SungWoo has become the unlikely talisman for the surprise contenders, the Kansas City Royals. His nearly 20 year-long obsession with the baseball team from afar has become the feel-good story.

After becoming a fan in the 1990s, Lee followed the Royals, barely missing a game, despite the 14-hour difference between Kansas City and Seoul. He paid little heed that the Royals hadn't made the playoffs in the last 29 years. In a 2012 interview, he tried to explain to a local website about his love for the Royals.

Royals party like it's 1985

Writing in English, which isn't his native language, he wrote: "What made me of being a Royals fan? Now I can't tell why... just like many of you, Royals fans, I was sort of... underdog lover? sympathy?

"It was much more thrilled Royals beat big market teams rather than big market teams win against weak teams."

He had no ties to the team or the place.

When he was asked whether he would come to Kansas City if the team made it to the World Series, he responded, "Whoa! Royals can make it to the World series ever???

"But If, big If, Royals go to world series, I would try this that one?"

Through the dismal losses and last place finishes, Lee's exuberance for the team didn't wane. His loyalty struck other Royals fans and Kansas City residents as sincere and dedicated.

San Francisco stations ban Lorde's 'Royals'

After nearly two decades of watching from afar, he arrived in Kansas City for the first time in August. During his visit, the Royals went on a 9-1 streak, causing some fans to speculate that he was a good luck charm. The Royals swept the San Francisco Giants in three games during Lee's visit -- the very team that it now faces in the World Series.

Lee became a local sensation with TV stations covering his appearances and it spread to national outlets.

Long after Lee returned to South Korea, Royal fans remembered his dedication as the team trounced the opposing teams during the post season.

One fan even unfurled the South Korean flag as an ode to Lee. Some even brought replica of Lee for televised interviews.

With the World Series to start on Tuesday, the Royals fans began demanding that Lee return to Kansas City to watch. Hashtags like #FreeSungWoo, #SungWooToKC and #SungWooSeries sprang up on Twitter. The hashtag #BringBackSungWoo began to trend in the United States.

Following some intense lobbying, Lee will be on hand to watch the game -- with documentary filmmakers and South Korea media following his moves.

Even the Major League Baseball's Twitter account acknowledged, "From backflips to @Koreanfan_KC, there's magic brewing in Kansas City all year long.

The first game of the World Series starts 8:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday.