Final Score: Korea 3, Chinese Taipei 2
World Baseball Conflict of the Game: The intense baseball rivalry that apparently exists between Korea and Taiwan
Bottom of the 8th. One on, two out. Korea down by a run. Up steps the Korean third baseman, Jungho Kang. All the eyes of Asia, [racist joke redacted], are upon him. The pitch comes in, and Kang gives it a mighty wallop. Up, up and away it flies, deep into the night. The ball keeps traveling without regard for outfielder or fence. As it landed in the seats, every Korean south of the DMZ erupted in joy (not to be confused with the simultaneous eruption in North Korea, which was just another underground nuclear weapons test).
Korea had taken the lead 3-2, and would go on to win the game by the same score. An Instant World Baseball Classic, no? No. You see, the victory merely put Korea into a three-way tie with Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands for the two second round spots from Pool B. Korea had the worst run differential in games against the other two teams, so they’re out of the tournament.
Once South Koreans figured out all that math/heard about the neighboring nuclear explosion, they erupted in depression.
Now, as for this game’s conflict metaphor: according to Wikipedia the Omniscient, the biggest conflict between South Korea and Taiwan is actually baseball itself. To quote from the first sentence of the “In Taiwan” section of the “Anti-Korean sentiment” article: “some existing animosity towards Koreans amongst Taiwanese may be present as a result of the rivalry between the two states in relation to baseball.” No further explanation is given, but frankly no further explanation is needed. I believe it.
Of course, the article does later note that “the Taiwanese felt very betrayed after Korea severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan and reestablished ties with China in 1992,” but I dunno. That doesn’t seem like it’d have as much of a lasting impact on a national consciousness.