EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: AUDIO QUALITY AS INCOMING VIDEO SHOWS: PRACTICE BASEBALL GAME OF SOUTH KOREAN PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL TEAM 'LG TWINS' TAKING PLACE INSIDE EMPTY STADIUM; PRACTICE GAME LIVESTREAMING ON MOBILE PHONE; SOUNDBITE FROM GENERAL MANAGER OF LG TWINS CHA MYUNG-SEOK; BASEBALL FAN WATCHING LIVESTREAM AT HOME; SOUNDBITE FROM FAN SHOWS: SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (APRIL 2, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.
PITCHER OF SOUTH KOREAN PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL TEAM LG TWINS THROWING BASEBALL, BATTER HITTING AND RUNNING TO FIRST BASE 2.
PRACTICE BASEBALL GAME TAKING PLACE IN EMPTY STADIUM 3.
VARIOUS OF EMPTY SEATS INSIDE STADIUM 4.
TWO MEN WEARING FACE MASKS HOLDING BANNER READING (Korean): "WE CAN OVERCOME COVID-19" 5.
PRACTICE GAME TAKING PLACE IN EMPTY STADIUM 6.
BATTER RUNNING TO BASE AND UMPIRE CALLING 'OUT' 7.
PLAYERS SITTING AND STANDING 8.
VIDEOGRAPHER HOLDING CAMERA FOR LIVESTREAM OF GAME, GAME IN PROGRESS 9.
SMARTPHONE SCREEN SHOWING LIVESTREAM OF GAME, GAME IN PROGRESS 10.
SMARTPHONE SCREEN SHOWING COMMENTS FROM VIEWERS WATCHING LIVESTREAM 11.
(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) GENERAL MANAGER OF LG TWINS BASEBALL CLUB, CHA MYUNG-SEOK, SAYING: "Since I'm in the baseball industry, I'm obviously disappointed that a professional baseball season is not underway.
But all of society and the economy are suffering due to the national disaster COVID-19.
In this situation, I feel good knowing practice games hosted by South Korean professional baseball can be comforting for (baseball) fans and the people." 12.
PERSON HOLDING SMARTPHONE SHOWING LIVESTREAM OF SPORTS COMMENTATORS, INCLUDING CHA (RIGHT), WATCHING GAME AND SPEAKING 13.
SPORTS COMMENTATORS, INCLUDING CHA (RIGHT), WATCHING GAME AND SPEAKING 14.
SPORTS COMMENTATORS, INCLUDING CHA (RIGHT), INSIDE BOOTH, WATCHING GAME AND SPEAKING SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (APRIL 2, 2020) (LGTWINS - Broadcasters: FOR NEWS PURPOSES ONLY, MUST ON SCREEN COURTESY "LGTWINS" Digital: FOR NEWS PURPOSES ONLY, MUST ON SCREEN COURTESY "LGTWINS") 15.
CLIP OF LIVESTREAM SEONGNAM, SOUTH KOREA (APRIL 2, 2020) (KIM JIN-WON HANDOUT - ACCESS ALL) 16.
VARIOUS OF 21-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN STUDENT AND BASEBALL FAN, KIM JIN-WON, WATCHING PRACTICE BASEBALL GAME ON LAPTOP SCREEN IN HIS HOME 17.
(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 21-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN STUDENT AND BASEBALL FAN, KIM JIN-WON, SAYING: "As far as I've heard, South Korea is the only country in the world that hosts and broadcasts practice games between their own teams. Each team broadcasts their internal games around two times a week, so I feel less sad (about the season being postponed).
But the crowd is the best part of the baseball game, so it does feel a little empty." SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (APRIL 2, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 18.
EXTERIOR OF BASEBALL STADIUM 19.
NOTICE SIGN READING (Korean): "RESTRICTED AREA / ENTRY IS RESTRICTED DUE TO COVID-19" 20.
PRACTICE GAME TAKING PLACE IN EMPTY STADIUM 21.
VARIOUS OF PLAYERS IN UNIFORM ON THE FIELD HOLDING SIGNS READING (Korean/English): "COVID-19 OUT" 22.
BASEBALL PLAYER IN UNIFORM HOLDING SIGN READING (English): "OUT" STORY: A professional baseball club in South Korea, LG Twins, has begun live-streaming its in-house practice games to meet the demands of fans stuck at home because of the virus.
The Korea Baseball Organization postponed the start of the season from March 28 to April 20, at a time when much of the world's sporting calendar has been virtually wiped out due to the coronavirus spread.
The baseball organization also banned all 10 teams from holding pre-season games with spectators due to the coronavirus concerns, so fans are savouring the intra-team games online instead.
LG Twins, who boast one of the largest fan bases in South Korea, play practice games about twice a week and live-stream them through their YouTube channel, enlisting a professional newscaster and the team's general manger to provide game commentary and real-time feedback to fans.
As an outfielder hit a low ball to the centre-left field for a double during an intra-team game on Thursday (April 2), the channel was instantly brimming with cheering comments.
The game drew up to 7,500 viewers, with players and coaches wearing caps with the words "COVID-19 OUT" handwritten beside the team's logo.
"All of society and the economy are suffering due to the national disaster, COVID-19.
In this situation, I feel good knowing practice games hosted by South Korean professional baseball can be comforting for (baseball) fans and the people," said Cha Myung-seok, the team's general manager.
He is also a former colour commentator and Twins' pitcher.
For 21-year-old student Kim Jin-won, watching his favourite baseball team's practice games live on YouTube is a rare slice of happiness while he's social distancing at home.
He said he believes South Korean teams are the only ones doing this kind of broadcasting and competition during the pandemic, which makes him feel less sad, although he still misses being in the crowd at a game.
The Korea University junior is majoring in global sports studies and said he has been refraining from meeting friends and outdoor activities because of the virus, which has infected more than 10,000 people in South Korea and killed 174.
He has had to take classes online since the start of the school semester has been postponed.
South Korea, Asia's biggest coronavirus hot spot outside China, has largely managed to bring the rate of new infections under control after a big early spike.
(Production: Daewoung Kim, Heejung Jung)