SEOUL — The 10-team Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) professional league has broken the nation’s annual sports attendance record, surpassing the historic figure of 8 million for the first time ever, potentially placing KBO within the Top 10 of the most-attended professional sports leagues in the world.

With games still remaining in 2016, KBO attendance is projected to reach 8.3 million, as all teams have already registered an increase in attendance over the 2015 campaign.

Korea’s previous sports attendance record, 7,360,530, was set last year by KBO.

The booming figures and visibility reinforce KBO’s and baseball’s position as the top sport and league in the Republic of Korea, expanding baseball’s commercial and broadcast power while inspiring new generations of boys and girls in the nation to play the popular sport and/or to become fans.

A rise in female baseball fans in the nation has helped drive KBO’s record numbers, according to Korean national newspaper Chosunilbo.

Under KBO Commissioner Koo Bon-Neung, the league has expanded to 10 teams, with the nation’s first-ever indoor stadium, Gocheok Sky Dome, and the new Daegu Samsung Lions Park both making their debuts this season.  The KBO leader then set the league’s target to hit the 8 million mark this year.

KBO’s growth strategy has also included having the league’s top stars represented on the National Team in major international competitions like the WBSC PREMIER12 and the World Baseball Classic.  Winners of the inaugural flagship PREMIER12 2015, the Korean National Team has since risen to No. 3 in the world – a historical high for the nation.

With the recent announcement of baseball’s return to the Olympic Games in 2020, and Korea being the defending Olympic baseball gold medallists, KBO is positioned to attract more new and loyal fans, and generate record-breaking growth in the coming years.

KBO has been a WBSC Associate Member since 2013.