Korea vs. Yonsei University Rivalry

Have you heard of the term”SKY universities” in Korea?

It refers to the three most prestigious institutions in South Korea: Seoul National University (SNU), Korea University (KU), and Yonsei University (YU).

Among the three, there’s a special kind of rivalry between Yonsei and Korea University.

연세대 총장 후보 3인 압축…서승환·윤동섭·홍대식 < 대학뉴스 < 뉴스 < 기사본문 - 한국대학신문 - 411개 대학을 연결하는 '힘'
Yonsei University Campus
UI(혁신) 특집/고려대학교] 고대의 혁신 'Creating New Values' 방향은 사람을 향하고, 속도는 세상을 앞서다 < UI  대학혁신지원사업 < 프리미엄 < 기사본문 - 한국대학신문 - 429개 대학을 연결하는 '힘'
Korea University Campus

Why so?

Historical Background

During the early 1900s, Korea grappled with Japanese colonial rule, with Bosung Technical College (now Korea University) and Yeonhee School emerging as beacons of hope for independence. Unlike Keijō Imperial University, which was established under Japanese colonial authority, Bosung Technical College (now Korea University) was founded with distinctly Korean origins while Yeonhee School (now Yonsei University) was established by American protestant missionary Underwood.

Both universities shared a profound connection rooted in their shared mission of promoting education and nurturing national identity. Despite the challenging circumstances of the time, these institutions fostered a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support, becoming symbols of resilience and determination in the face of adversity. The rivalry that emerged between them was not merely one of competition but also of shared aspirations for a liberated Korea.

보성전문학교에서 법률공부 - 오마이뉴스
Bosung Technical College (now Korea University)
연희전문학교 - 위키백과, 우리 모두의 백과사전
Yeonhee School (Yonsei University)

Sport competitions

Since 1925, Yonsei and Korea University have been competing in different sports like soccer, baseball, ice hockey, basketball, and rugby. The competition’s name, whether it’s ‘Yon-Ko Jeon (연고전)’ or ‘Ko-Yon Jeon, (고연전)’ often sparked debates, leading to the establishment of rules between the two universities.
To keep things fair, Yonsei hosts the games in odd years, while Korea University hosts them in even years.

2019, 2021, 2023 – hosted by Yonsei University > Yon-Ko
2020, 2022, 2024 – hosted by Korea University > Ko-Yon

However, students from each university simply put their own school’s name first.

코로나 취소'됐던 고연전 올해는 열린다…65년만 첫 비대면|동아일보
Source: 뉴스1 © News1
2014 정기 연고전(고연전), PC·모바일 생중계로 즐긴다 < 종합 < 스포츠일반 < 기사본문 - STN 뉴스
Source: STN 뉴스(https://www.stnsports.co.kr)

Pre-game performances & HipHop Battles

In addition to their intense sports rivalry, Korea University and Yonsei University also partake in spirited and playful competitions that showcase their camaraderie and sense of humor. These contests go beyond the realm of sports and encompass various pre-game performances, including dynamic cheerleading routines and entertaining diss songs aimed at each other.

These pre-game performances serve as platforms for students to creatively express their school pride and poke lighthearted fun at their rival institution. The cheerleading routines are often elaborate and energetic, featuring intricate choreography and spirited chants that rally support for their respective teams.

One of the most notable aspects of their playful rivalry is the exchange of diss songs, where students compose and perform witty and humorous songs teasing their rival university. This tradition has become a cherished part of the Yon-Ko Jeon rivalry, adding an extra layer of excitement and entertainment to the competition.

The culmination of these playful diss battles resulted in the emergence of the “Hip-Hop Regular Competition” (힙합정기전), which initially stemmed from the spirited rivalry between Korea University and Yonsei University but eventually gained popularity and spread to universities nationwide. This competition further underscores the dynamic and multifaceted nature of the rivalry between these two prestigious institutions.

Korea Uni dissing Yonsei Uni
Yonsei Uni dissing Korea Uni

The two universities also share a YouTube channel where the students share tips for the future applicants and their daily lives through entertaining content:


Food Products

Not only do Yonsei and Korea University compete in sports, but they also have their own signature food products. Yonsei is renowned for its milk products, while Korea University is known for its pastries available at the campus bakeries.

Yonsei University is celebrated for its dairy products, particularly its Yonsei Milk, which has garnered a dedicated following among students and alumni. Yonsei Milk is known for its rich and creamy texture, and it is often enjoyed in various forms, including plain milk, flavored milk drinks, and yogurt.

연세유업 | 고단백 우유 180ml (48팩) > 우유
Yonsei Milk

On the other hand, Korea University is famous for its delectable pastries available at the campus bakeries. These pastries are crafted with precision and care, offering a diverse array of flavors and textures to cater to different tastes.

호랑이빵 – 고대빵
Korea University Bread

Additionally, there’s a funny rumor circulating that consuming Yonsei milk along with Korea University bread leads to a “battle” in the stomach, causing uncomfortable rumblings upset stomach.

In 2022, CU partnered with Yonsei Milk to unveil the “Yonsei Cream Milk Bread”. It stands as CU’s best-selling bakery item.

연세우유 생크림빵 - 나무위키
연세우유 생크림빵 - 나무위키

Encouraged by its success, CU secured a license from Korea University to produce its own pastries featuring the university’s iconic colors and logo, further expanding its university-themed lineup.

CU, 연세크림빵 이어 '고대빵' 출시
CU x Korea University Apple Jap Pastry

Today, both Yonsei and Korea University pastries boast a rich variety of flavors and fillings.

rom the exhilarating sports competitions to the delightful culinary showdowns, the rivalry between these two esteemed institutions is a testament to the rich tapestry of traditions and experiences that define campus life.

If you’re new to Korea, make sure to check out other articles on our website including Practical tips for First Timers in Korea to make local friends