Korean baseball is experiencing a renaissance. The gold medal at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games will go down in history as a major turning point for Korean baseball.
On Sunday, the Korean National Baseball Team, led by Ryu Jung-il, won the gold medal with a 2-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in the baseball final at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Xiaoxing Baseball and Softball Center 1 Baseball Field in Xiaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China.
It was South Korea’s sixth gold medal at an Asian Games, and their fourth straight after winning gold at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, 2014 Incheon Asian Games, and 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games.
In fact, Korea went into the tournament with “half expectation, half concern” as it made major changes to its roster, but the result was a “happy ending.
In recent years, there have been calls for Korean baseball to become more internationally competitive, and there have also been calls for a generational change. Therefore, starting with the Hangzhou Asian Games team, the KBO established a new rule that players in the KBO League who are 25 years old or younger or in their fourth year of play will be selected, and up to three players under the age of 29 will be selected as wild cards.
According to the KBO, “The Hangzhou Asian Games team is intended to actively develop players who will be the mainstay of the national team in international competitions for years to come.”
As such, the squad included a number of players who could be the next big thing in Korean baseball. However, there were also concerns. The team was composed mainly of younger and younger players, so there were few players with extensive international experience, and the team suffered from a weakness called ‘lack of experience’.
However, the experience of Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom), who has played in several international tournaments such as the 2019 Premier 12, 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC), seemed to be a great asset to the team. However, an unexpected ankle injury during the season forced Lee to drop out of the team, raising red flags for the national team.
Instead, the team had a distinctive “let’s give it a go” attitude. Instead, the team was filled with young players and the atmosphere was great. “The atmosphere is very good,” said several players who joined the team during their official training in Korea. It’s bright and full of energy.”
Although the team suffered a crushing 0-4 defeat to Chinese Taipei in the group stage, they were able to exact revenge against the Chinese Taipei team in the final. Moon Dong-joo (Hanwha), who is considered the “hope of Korean baseball” and the next ace, started the game and pitched a perfect six innings with seven strikeouts, while Young-hyun Park (KT), who is being called the “post-Oh Seung-hwan,” continued to be the best bullpen pitcher on the team. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with runners on first and second, Wu Nianting’s grounder to short sealed the victory for Korea, a scene that echoed the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
South Korea won the gold medal and a whopping 19 of the 24 players on the roster received military service benefits. It’s a record number. This is the most since the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, when 22 athletes received military benefits. Moon Bo-kyung, Jung Woo-young (LG), Kang Baek-ho, Park Young-hyun (KT), Kim Young-gyu, Kim Joo-won (NC), Kwak Bin (Doosan), Choi Ji-hoon (SSG), Choi Ji-min (KIA), Na Kyun-an, Park Se-woong, Yoon Dong-hee (Lotte), Kim Ji-chan, Won Tae-in (Samsung), and Noh Si-hwan, Moon Dong-joo (Hanwha), Kim Dong-heon, Kim Hye-sung (Kiwoom), and Jang Hyun-seok (Masan Yongmago), the future of Korean baseball is expected to experience a new renaissance as many players receive military service benefits.토토사이트
Korean baseball experienced a renaissance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when it won the gold medal. At the time, 14 players received military service benefits, including Ryu Hyun-jin, Lee Dae-ho, Kim Kwang-hyun, Yoon Seok-min, Kim Hyun-soo, Jung Geun-woo, Kang Min-ho, Lee Yong-kyu, Song Seung-jun, Lee Taek-geun, Jang Won-sam, Kwon Hyuk, Ko Young-min, and Han Ki-joo, and their performances brought the league to its peak. Many baseball fans still say that the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the starting point. And when the next renaissance materializes, they’ll say it started with the gold medal at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games.