What enables South Korean lady golfers to be so formidable in the U.S. LPGA Tour? It is nothing less than the Koreans' talent to make things skillfully with their hands, a trait handed down from generation to generation for thousands years. Celadon in Koryo and the Yi dynasty are world famous for blue and white china in quality, and you know that pottery involves the same skills as playing golf.
Not to change the subject, South Koreans' special talent to make things skillfully with their hands is also believed to greatly contribute to their making almost a clean sweep of the World Skills Competition. By the same token, Koreans are good at various sports that are played chiefly with the hands: handball, archery and table tennis, to name a few.
Professor Hwang Woo-suk of the Seoul National University who led the first cloning of embryonic human stem cells told in a public lecture that one of his assistants surprised the stem cell big shots of the world with his skills, which were beyond their imagination but actually nothing for Koreans. Professor Hwang, referring to the use of chopsticks, mentioned that the Koreansâ€™ skill with their hands contributed to their success in cloning embryonic human stem cells.
An editor golf fan of an English daily newspaper mentioned that one of the root causes for Korean ladies to play such great golf in the U.S. is closely connected to dexterity, which is also critical to preparing delicious Kimchi, a Korean side dish loved by the people around the world.
Japanese, who also use chopsticks like Koreans, once produced a golf great named Ayako Okamoto, who became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1981 and won 17 events between 1982 and 1992. She was recorded as the first woman from outside the U.S. to top the LPGA tour’s money list in 1987. Among Japanese golfers playing in the PGA of America is Shigeki Maruyama, who is often compared to South Korean golfer Kyung-ju Choi. Despite this, the Japanese do not surpass Koreans in the golf world possibly because they do not attach as much importance to the hands in preparing foods. They use sashimi knife in preparing raw fish, their all-time favorite, instead of directly using hands as Koreans do.
Similarly, the Chinese do not distinguish themselves as much as Koreans in the LPGA tour of America because they do not stress the role of hands in making foods. Their food culture features fire. Mostly they use fire to create taste instead of using their hands. Among Chinese golfers, Hong Mei Yang became the first Chinese player to win a tournament in the United States in April 2004 by capturing the IOS Futures Golf Classic in El Paso, Texas, the developmental circuit for the LPGA Tour.
Of course, there are some other factors that make all the great achievements possible including tenacity and indomitability, two characteristics of Koreans, along with quite a lot of synergy among the South Korean golfers. But without the dexterity unique to Koreans their great success would be hard to imagine.
However, please don't think all Korean academics and sports fans think like this. One professor, for example, is in quite another camp: Korean women are not good at golf because of kimchi, but rather because of using chopsticks. According to the research of the University of South Carolina's Shin Eui-hang:
Among the factors Shin attributed to the success of female Korean golfers were 1) the Korean "Golf Boom" that began in the 1980s; 2) the toughness of Korean women; 3) the close father-daughter relationship in Korea in which fathers are quite indulgent of their daughters; and 4) excellent hand-eye coordination that is a product of a culture in which women traditionally sew and people use chopsticks.