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24 November 2014 | in NUSF News, Rugby, Ice Hockey, Football, Basketball, Baseball

The Yonsei-Korea Rivalry: A Grand University Sports Festival



SEOUL – Everybody knows about the legendary Oxford-Cambridge rowing rivalry. In Korea, they have a similar rivalry, not as long standing as Oxbridge but maybe more intense: the Yonsei-Korea clash. FISU U-Media Reporter Naomi Ma experienced it when she attended the event.

Before you arrive at the venue, you can already hear a deafening sound of cheering and singing coming from the main court. Once you step into the venue, you are surrounded by two sharply divided color groups - the Yonsei blue and the Korea red. This is the college rivalry between two of the most prestigious universities in Korea, i.e. Yonsei University and Korea University. During every fall semester, the two schools meet together and compete against each other in five sports, football, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and rugby. Over 100,000 students and graduates flock together into these competition venues to watch the games and support their school or alma mater.

Korea and Yonsei are two of the most famous universities in the Korean Republic. Together with Seoul National University, they form the acronym “SKY”, which means that the importance of these three schools is able to prop up Korea. Yonsei and Korea have their importance in the field of academics, but they also care about their performance in sports. Since 1956, the two schools began the sports rivalry. The scale of the Yonsei-Korea rivalry is truly immense. According to estimation, the two schools spent 1 billion KRW for this two-day event every year. They both host sports matches and related exhibitions or forums during the event. Besides, the Yonsei-Korea rivalry has the most media attention among all the other college rivalries in Korea. All five sports matches are broadcast nationally on TV and on the Internet.

For the students, the rivalry is not just about winning the game, but about one’s identity towards school and among friends. Wei-sheng Chiu, a doctoral student from Yonsei explains the college frenzy: “For students from these two universities, the results of the games do not really matter. What is important for us is the time to show our support for our school, immerse ourselves into the game and having fun with our schoolmates.” According to Chiu, students from these two schools suffer great pressure from school studies. For them, the rivalry is the only time they can relax themselves and have fun with friends.  

Take the basketball match for example, the competition venue was heavily crowed by students from both schools. The mid-court line is like a continental divide, clearly splitting the audience into two groups, Yonsei blue and Korea red. Students from the two schools usually sing, cheer, and dance non-stop during the games. Besides, not only students are crazy about the rivalry. Shops and restaurants around the two schools also celebrate the event. In fact, the Yonsei-Korea rivalry is like a yearly grand university sport festival for both schools.


Naomi Ma (TPE), FISU U-Media Reporter