Sport

Inside the growth of horse racing in South Korea

Published 0952 GMT (1752 HKT) July 25, 2017
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Horse racing in South Korea -- it's bigger than you think... Korea Racing Authority
One hundred years on from the nation's first thoroughbred race, plans are in place for South Korea to become a major player in the sport. photo by H.K.B.(KRA)
What started with small, unstandardized pony races has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry. photo by H.K.B.(KRA)
A two-way process of "internationalization" is underway, with leading foreign jockeys and trainers employed domestically, and Korean runners beginning to attend major race meetings overseas. photo by H.K.B.(KRA)
One venue, LetsRun Park Seoul, boasts towering grandstands called Happy Ville and Lucky Ville capable of accommodating 77,000 people. photo by H.K.B.(KRA)
Attendance figures are already "right up there with baseball and well ahead of the domestic football league," according to Alastair Middleton of the Korea Racing Authority (KRA.) Korea Racing Authority
But the KRA is also striving to reach all new demographics in South Korea. Korea Racing Authority
To that end, a horse theme park, situated in the center of the Seoul Racecourse, opened its doors in September 2016 -- playing host to a number of K-pop acts, including I.O.I. Korea Racing Authority
With pony riding, racing simulation machines and ice rinks in winter, there's hope it can attract new audiences to the racecourse. Korea Racing Authority
"Right now horse racing has a bad perception among some Korean people," Yang Tae Park, executive director of the KRA, told CNN. "We are trying to change that perception." Korea Racing Authority
With a new quarantine protocol, the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) plans to stage some of the biggest events on the horse racing calendar within five years. Korea Racing Authority
By 2022, the value of the Korea Sprint and Cup is set to increase threefold to KRW 3 billion ($2.7m) and KRW 2 billion ($1.8m) respectively. Korea Racing Authority
With Korean-bred horses increasingly racing in foreign lands and proving they can cut it at a high-level, don't bet against seeing one on a racetrack near you soon. Korea Racing Authority