“I want to properly show the ‘Billiard Hallyu’ to the world. The goal is to inform and settle the most Korean K-Sports culture to the world.”
The Professional Billiards PBA received the Prime Minister’s Grand Prize, the highest award in the Korean sports industry, hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and supervised by the National Sports Promotion Foundation in December of last year. It was a miraculous achievement by a professional sports organization that had only been in existence for four years. Each competition was recognized for contributing to the vitalization of the sports service industry and market expansion, such as groundbreaking sports marketing and events.
At the center of the PBA sensation is Jang Sang-jin (55), the vice president of the PBA. Chang Sang-jin, vice president of the sports marketing company and management group to which Inbi Park and others belong, is the first-class contributor to changing billiards from a ‘shady game’ to a ‘hot icon of professional sports’.
In an interview with E-Daily, vice president Jang Sang-jin told the story of the success of professional billiards in Korea.
When the professional billiards PBA was first launched in June 2019, many looked suspiciously. Concerns were high about whether billiards could succeed as a professional sport. First of all, the negative image of the sport itself was strong. The opposition from the existing billiards players who claimed vested interests was also formidable. Above all, there was no precedent for professional billiards worldwide. It was a road no one had ever been to. With such uneasy elements, the PBA started.
And four years passed. PBA overcame concerns and worries and settled down stably. From individual tours to team leagues, matches are held throughout the year. Since the ratings are good, broadcasters scramble to broadcast billiards. Companies that want to sponsor the event are lining up. Players who were not properly treated began to be recognized as professional players.
“I studied on my own for about a year and a half to develop new content. As a result, successful professional sports had something in common. It was the base, the arena, the media, the sponsors, and the marketing. In Korea, billiards was the sport that met all the requirements. There is no adult male who has not caught a cue at least once. There are more than 20,000 billiard rooms. Before the launch of PBA, there was already a channel specializing in billiards. This gave me the confidence that we could be successful if our marketing capabilities were backed up.”
Of course, starting out wasn’t easy. The biggest task was to convince the sponsors who were negative about billiards. Also, vice president Jang Sang-jin rolled up his sleeves. I went to the company I had a relationship with through golf marketing and started persuading myself. At first, personal relationships were also mobilized. They even shouted that they would not get paid if the marketing was not effective. Large corporations such as Shinhan Financial Group, Welcome Savings Bank, and SK Rent-A-Car joined hands with PBA. These companies have been playing a strong supporting role so far.
“Sports marketing sponsors must have two distinct aspects. The first should be successful in terms of marketing, and the second should be meaningful in terms of social contribution. I didn’t worry about the marketing side. I was confident that it would be much more effective than the existing items in terms of cost. The stumbling block was the social contribution aspect. Due to the prejudice of billiards, it was difficult to approach from a corporate point of view. We rather emphasized that part. It was emphasized that billiards, which had stayed in the dark, was raised to a brighter place, and that it helped players who had not been noticed even though they had good skills. Fortunately, the sponsors sympathized with that. As a result, it works well and everyone is satisfied.” 바카라
PBA, which has successfully settled in Korea, is looking at a wider stage. It started in earnest to go beyond Korea and become a global sport. The PBA has never officially held competitions or promoted overseas. Nevertheless, word of mouth has attracted a lot of attention abroad. It is popular in Southeast Asia, centered on Throng Piabi, who wrote a success story of immigrant women from Cambodia. Recently, players from Vietnam are showing good performance and are radiating hot heat in Vietnam.
Until now, PBA has had little chance of advancing overseas. It was because of the aftermath of COVID-19. However, starting from 2023, they made a plan to start targeting the overseas stage in earnest. If the last 4 years were the time to root and lay the groundwork for the PBA, the next 4 years have set the goal of full-fledged internationalization of the league.
“PBA has been oriented towards a global tour since its inception. A lot of Vietnamese players are now participating in the tour. In the new season, we plan to start an overseas tour primarily in Vietnam. Just as there are tours in each country for golf, billiards wants to make a local PBA tour in Vietnam. In the long term, the goal is to establish PBA tours in Europe and South America and to exchange tours in each country.”