The rivalry between Japan and South Korea extends a lot deeper than who scores the most runs in a game. There is still lingering friction between the countries because Japan invaded Korea and officially annexed it in 1910. The Japanese did not leave until after World War II ended in 1945.This story implies a symmetry that isn’t there. If you don’t believe me, here’s a thought experiment: Which would have been more satisfying to the average Korean/Japanese fan, beating the Japanese/Korean team for the championship or the U.S. team?
Although Japan left more than six decades ago, there are still Koreans who remember those years or who have been told stories about the experience. The countries have a relationship, but it is more a grudging association than a friendly rapport.
Now the Japanese and the South Koreans will have to wait four years before they potentially meet in another Classic. The wait will undoubtedly feel much longer for the South Koreans. But the Japanese will savor every day between now and then because they can call themselves the best in the world. Suzuki made sure of that.