Korea's National Sport

By Chris Gayomali

Over 10,000 rapturous fans roared with approval as Kim Jung Woo shrugged his way up the podium for the crowning moment of his young career. Kim -- a pale, delicately spoken 19-year old -- had just overcome a 2-0 deficit to beat the world's consensus top-ranked player (former child prodigy Lee Young-Ho) in an upset for the ages. The prize? A check cosigned by event-sponsor Korean Airlines for a hefty 40-million Korean won, along with the hard-earned respect of nearly an entire nation. The contest? StarCraft, the alien warfare strategy game played by millions across the world, and the national pastime of South Korea.

For EffOrt (as Kim is better known), this was as good as it gets: he had just become the 2010 winner of South Korea's OGN StarLeague, one of the biggest and most prestigious StarCraft tournaments in the entire world.

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But think carefully if you're considering giving up your day job to become a professional StarCraft player.  World #1 Lee Young-Ho (better known as Flash), provided a glimpse into the life of a professional gamer when he had this to say in Shin-dong-a magazine earlier this year:

We need to give up a lot. We need to give up everything that belongs to ourselves... I gave up everything before coming here. I haven't even thought about getting a girlfriend. I don't even see my friends often, only occasionally during holidays. Every day is practice.

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