Monday, June 19, 2017

#43. 종범 -- Invisible

Baseball is a huge part of the Korean sports scene. In fact, there are multiple internet communities dedicated to the discussion of baseball. The two major ones that I can think of are MLB Park (엠팍 for short in Korean) and 국내야구 갤러리 (야갤 for short in Korean) of DC Inside. In theory, the former is more concerned with the major league baseball, and the latter with the Korean league, but n reality, these distinctions don't really exist. (As an aside, if you're planning to join one of these communities as a way to practice your Korean, I recommend MLB Park, as the 야갤 users have somewhat of a shady reputation, and it is one of the rougher areas of the Korean internet geography...)

Anyway, once upon a time, there was a huge debate on MLB Park pertaining to the best shortstop of the Korean baseball league. The two candidates were 이종범 and 양준혁, both of whom are legendary players. For my own lack of baseball knowledge, I won't get into the stats and try to make my own choice. However, the one thing that I can say for sure is that 이종범 had more enthusiastic fans.

While their stats were more or less similar to each other, the fans of 이종범 asserted that he was superior to 양준혁 because "he had something more not quantifiable in numbers."

This probably makes sense to his fans, but to the outsiders, it's nothing but a laughable claim. It almost seems like the last resort before definitively losing an argument, even. So the non-fans started making fun of this claim. Now, the first name "종범" of this unfortunate baseball player (who didn't do anything wrong other than being one of the two best players of his time!) also means "invisible," or "nonexistent."

Some Koreans decided to honour this unfortunate baseball player with the following photoshopped picture.

For example, if you didn't make the honour roll this semester, your friend might make fun of you by saying:
이번 학기 우등생 명단에서 네 이름은 종범이네 (Your name seems invisible in the honour roll this semester).
Or if your favourite singer releases a new song and it never makes it into the Korean music charts, you might say:
이번 신곡은 차트에서 종범이네 (The newest song seems nonexistent in the charts.)

 The main users of this neologism are men in their teens and early twenties, so there's the usual vulgarity that gets attached to such slang. Furthermore, some Koreans think that this word originated from ilbe (which probably has the worst reputation out of all of the Korean internet communities,) so if you use it nondiscriminately, you might come under fire that you did not intend. So I would use this word with care, and only among your closest friends or in certain internet communities such as ilbe, MLB Park, and 야구갤러리. Yet I still find this word to be entertaining in the uniquely Korean way. Such usage could only be born in a tight-knit community such as Korea!

As a final fun fact, apparently 이종범 himself is aware of this usage. As far as I know, he has not made any official statements about how he feels about it, but some Koreans think that this is disrespectful to the legendary baseball player.


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