Exploring ethnic identity perceptions of Hyun-Jin Ryu’s Korean American fans

Na Ri Shin, Jon Welty Peachey, Doo Jae Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experiences of Korean American fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. Two research questions were developed to guide the study: (a) How are participants’ ethnic identity perceptions as Korean Americans intertwined with their fanship to Hyun-Jin Ryu? and (b) How are participants’ lived experiences intertwined with their fanship to Ryu? The study focused on the details of how fans perceived their ethnic identity in relation to Ryu’s performance and presence in Major League Baseball. Findings revealed that fans initially became involved due to their ethnic ties to Ryu and remained as fans because they felt connected to the motherland of Korea. Fans individually identified with Ryu through the perceived minority status of being Korean American in the US. Fans experienced vicarious satisfaction as they felt Ryu broke racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes through his body image and physical performance. Consequently, they developed Korean pride when Ryu performed well. This study extends Tajfel and Turner’s social identity theory and Phinney’s concept of ethnic identity to examine fanship to a specific player rather than a team.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-872
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Review for the Sociology of Sport
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Korean American sports fans
  • Korean baseball players
  • ethnic identity
  • social identity theory
  • sports spectatorship


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