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Why Is the MLB Playing in South Korea Ahead of Opening Day? All About the MLB World Tour

Major League Baseball kicked off its regular season with the Seoul Series, a two-game set played by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres on March 20

<p>Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty; Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty </p>

Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty; Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty

Baseball season is in full swing (well, sort of).

Major League Baseball kicked off its regular season in South Korea with a game played by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres on March 20 ahead of the MLB's official Opening Day on March 28.

The two-day set played in Korea is part of the MLB's Seoul Series, marking one of the four international stops the league is making over the course of the season. Known as the MLB World Tour, the schedule also includes stops in Mexico City, London and the Dominican Republic.

Despite the two games being played overseas ahead of the official Opening Day in the United States, they do count towards both the Dodgers and Padres regular season record. However, upon the team's return, they each have two spring training games prior to Opening Day that don't count.

Related: Dodgers Fire Shohei Ohtani's Interpreter After He's Reportedly Linked to Illegal Gambling

The MLB's regular season start in South Korea has unsurprisingly been a hot topic due to the schedule alone, but players have also topped headlines — with Shohei Ohtani specifically tied to a major controversy.

The former Los Angeles Angels superstar — who made his Dodgers debut in Korea after signing a $700 million, 10-year contract with the team — is reportedly the victim of "massive theft" from his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, who allegedly used his money for illegal gambling. Mizuhara was fired on March 20.

"The Dodgers are aware of media reports and are gathering information. The team can confirm that interpreter Ippei Mizuhara has been terminated. The team has no further comment at this time," a representative for the Dodgers said, per MLB.com.

Read on to learn more about the MLB World Tour and 2024 Opening Day!

Why is the MLB playing in South Korea?

<p>Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty </p> Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers takes the field prior to the 2024 Seoul Series game against the San Diego Padres on March 20.

Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers takes the field prior to the 2024 Seoul Series game against the San Diego Padres on March 20.

The MLB kicked off its regular season with the Seoul Series in South Korea on March 20, which saw the Dodgers win 5-2 over the Padres. The two-day set, played at the Gocheok SkyDome, wraps on March 21.

The Seoul Series marks the ninth time that the MLB season has opened outside the United States and Canada, and the first international host venue since Tokyo in 2019. The Seoul Series also marks the first MLB game played in South Korea.

The last international game played by the Dodgers was against the Padres in Mexico in 2018. The Seoul Series will also be the Los Angeles team's second Opening Day overseas after the 2014 season opener in Australia.

The Padres played internationally in 2023 during the Mexico City Series, so the Seoul Series marks their second straight season playing abroad. Like the Dodgers, the San Diego team played an Opening Day abroad — but in the inaugural international season opener in 1999.

What is the MLB World Tour?

<p>Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty </p> MLB World Tour, Dominican Republic Series 2024.

Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty

MLB World Tour, Dominican Republic Series 2024.

The MLB World Tour was created in an increased effort to bring the joy of baseball to fans across the globe. The first international Opening Game was held in 1999, played between the Colorado Rockies and the Padres in Monterrey, Mexico.

"Major League Baseball is incredibly excited for this extensive slate of international games in 2024," Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "Our recent efforts have produced strong enthusiasm around the globe, and we look forward to building on that foundation... We are thrilled that our fans across four different countries outside the United States and Canada will have the opportunity to see the game’s stars."

The four stops on the 2024 MLB World Tour include Seoul, Mexico City, London and the Dominican Republic. The first three cities will host an international regular season series, while the D.R. hosted a pair of spring training games on March 9 and March 10 in Santo Domingo.

“Players have a deep interest in growing baseball around the world. No matter where they come from, players are linked by a passion for our game that transcends different languages, cultures, and nationalities,” said Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLB Players Association. "We are excited to expand our international presence in new communities and celebrate the game we all love.”

When is MLB Opening Day?

<p>Jim McIsaac/Getty</p> The New York Yankees Opening Day in 2019.

Jim McIsaac/Getty

The New York Yankees Opening Day in 2019.

MLB Opening Day officially kicks off on Thursday, March 28, with games played by all 30 teams across the United States. Up first is the New York Mets against the Milwaukee Brewers who face off at 1:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field, New York.

Most of the games will be played in the afternoon, including Phillies-Braves, Dodgers-Cardinals and Astros-Yankees. The Texas Rangers will celebrate their 2023 World Series title before hosting the Chicago Cubs at 7:35 p.m. ET at Globe Life Field.

How to watch MLB Opening Day 2024?

<p>Sarah Stier/Getty </p> Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees in 2019.

Sarah Stier/Getty

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees in 2019.

MLB's Opening Night game will be broadcast on ESPN with MLB livestreams available. Plus, most will be viewable on the regional sports networks affiliated with each baseball club.

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