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Bomb Threat against Shohei Ohtani accompanies MLB opener in South Korea

Image Credit: Associated Press

Police in South Korea finished their investigation of a bomb threat on Wednesday against baseball star Shohei Ohtani, who is in Seoul for Major League Baseball’s first regular-season games in South Korea.


They were alerted by the South Korean Consulate in Vancouver, which received an email written in English threatening to bomb the 18,000-seat Gocheok Sky Dome in the South Korean capital, where Ohtani’s Los Angeles Dodgers are playing against the San Diego Padres.


The threat did little to scare fans, who traveled from other parts of South Korea, the United States and other countries for the two-game “Seoul Series” between the Dodgers and Padres to start the season.

Ohtani, 29, joined the Dodgers in December after signing a 10-year, $700-million contract that was the biggest in baseball history.

The two-time American League Most Valuable Player who has been compared to baseball legend Babe Ruth, has become so popular that South Korean fans have embraced him despite their country’s historic rivalry with Japan, Ohtani’s home country. They greeted him in droves when the Dodgers arrived at Incheon International Airport outside Seoul last week.

Ohtani, who is often described in Japanese as “the perfect person,” told reporters on Saturday that he has always respected South Korean baseball players and said South Korea was “one of my favorite countries.”

But Ohtani is not the only headline for the games: Fans are also going to see his twenty five year old teammate Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who is also from Japan and who joined the Dodgers in December with Ohtani. He signed a 12-year contract that is worth $325 million.

The Padres brought twenty eight year old Ha-Seong Kim, a shortstop who was born and raised outside Seoul. Kim previously played at Gocheok Sky Dome with the Korea Baseball Organization’s Kiwoom Heroes. Thirty seven year old Japanese ace Yu Darvish is also on the team.

The ceremonial first pitch at the game on Wednesday was thrown by fifty year old Chan Ho Park, a former pitcher for both the Dodgers and the Padres, as well as other American baseball teams. He was the first Korean-born player to participate in Major League Baseball.

“I know our players are thrilled to put their talents on display in a country so rich with baseball tradition and talent, including former Dodgers Chan Ho Park, Hee-Seop Choi and Hyun Jin Ryu,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten said in a news release that announced the Seoul games last July.

Major League Baseball sees the potential for huge market growth in Japan and South Korea. Both countries have their own national teams and professional leagues as well, and integrating American players and teams into these countries could create more viewership and profits.

Edited by Molly Shewan

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