“I also play baseball in Korea, but there are so many things I don’t understand. I don’t think forgiveness is easy in Korea.”
SSG Landers Choo Shin-soo (41)’s “remark” storm shows no sign of subsiding. On January 21, during the Lunar New Year holiday period, Choo Shin-soo appeared on a Korean radio station (DKNET) in Dallas, USA, and made controversial remarks about the composition of the KBO League and World Baseball Classic (WBC) national teams.
Choo Shin-soo said, “If you look at Japan, a nearby country, there are many new faces in international competitions. Kim Hyun-soo (LG) is a really good player, but if it were me, I would have seen the future. Another article came out,” summoned the WBC team coach Lee Kang-cheol and the KBO Technical Committee, as well as junior players such as Kim Hyun-soo, Kim Gwang-hyun, and Yang Hyeon-jong.
Choo Shin-soo is a player who is criticized for “eating from the national team” because he never responded to the call of the national team after receiving exemption from military service with the gold medal at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. In the interview in question, he complained of injustice, saying, “I blame you without knowing the story,” but many point out that it is not persuasive. The point that ‘you have to look at the future’ can be refuted by Choo Shin-soo himself, who is continuing his active duty this year with an annual salary of 1.7 billion won at the age of 41.
Choo Shin-soo also expressed regret over Ahn Woo-jin (Kiwoom), who was eliminated from the national team due to past school violence. He said, “Ahn Woo-jin definitely did the wrong thing,” but “If a person made a mistake when he was young… He repented of his mistakes, he was punished, he was suspended, and he did everything, but he couldn’t go to the international tournament.” He said that the situation of not getting a chance to play is unfair.”
Continuing, Choo Shin-soo said, “There is something I want to say to many seniors. I was born early and played baseball early, so I am not a senior. “He expanded the scope of criticism to numerous senior baseball players and senior players.
After graduating from high school, Shin-soo Choo
left Korean baseball and lived in the United States for about 20 years. In the KBO League, ‘serving as a senior’ has only been around two years. Above all, Shin-soo Choo was elected with the support of the most juniors in the vote for the president of the Professional Baseball Players Association (Athletes’ Association) in December of last year, but he refused the chairmanship for personal reasons. In the unprecedented ‘rejection of the president’, the Athletes’ Association hurriedly conducted a re-vote and created a skit of re-election of the president. At that time, the chairman elected through a re-vote was Kim Hyun-soo, whom Shin-soo Choo pointed out, “It should not have gone (to the national team).” An official familiar with the Athletes Association said, “Unlike Choo Shin-soo, who declined the presidency, Kim Hyun-soo showed a strong desire to become the Athletes’ Association president from his first vote.
January is the only peaceful time in the baseball world without incidents or accidents. Baseball reporters have a hard time finding news stories because there are no games, training, and awards ceremonies during the inactive period. Choo Shin-soo lit a fire, put firewood, and threw a bomb into this quiet peace. Various baseball communities as well as the baseball world were turned upside down, and sparks flew to several people summoned by Shin-soo Choo.
Even at the departure gate at the airport leaving the spring camp, questions about Choo Shin-soo were poured out. In previous years, the place where he would have talked about his goals and determination for the new season became the Choo Shin-soo Hearing Room. Choo Shin-soo’s SSG ‘junior’ Choi Jeong and Kim Gwang-hyeon, who belonged to Choo Shin-soo’s team, remained silent as if they were perplexed by the related question. National team coach Lee Kang-cheol tried to minimize his impact, saying, “I think (Choo Shin-soo) expressed his personal opinion for the development of Korean baseball.” After being eliminated from the WBC national team, An Woo-jin, who was brought back to the plaza of public opinion because of his senior’s indiscretion, bowed his head, saying, “I’m sorry that I have put you in an uncomfortable situation.”
While his baseball colleagues and juniors struggled to catch up, Choo Shin-soo, who actually provided the cause, kept silent. The place where Choo Shin-soo appeared in the middle of the controversy was a TV entertainment program. He had a tug-of-war with his friend Lee Dae-ho, and boasted of a super-luxurious mansion that “can’t be seen even if you visit it for 3 nights and 4 days”.
In fact, this is not the first time Choo Shin-soo has made a ‘determination statement’ toward Korean baseball. After joining SSG in 2021, Choo Shin-soo made direct criticism about the poor infrastructure and culture of Korean baseball several times. There were many times when Choo’s words came true. Choo Shin-soo said something about the outdated facilities at the Jamsil Baseball Stadium, and soon a pleasant away team resting place was created. At the request of Choo Shin-soo, a state-of-the-art sauna facility was built at Landers Field, the home ground of SSG. Things that had remained the same no matter how much they demanded and shouted for decades were resolved with a single word from Choo Shin-soo. It can be seen that Choo Shin-soo’s strong remarks had a certain positive effect on the development of Korean baseball. It is understandable that junior players, who confirmed the power of a big star who can become a reality simply by speaking, gave Choo Shin-soo the most votes in the Athletes Association president’s vote.
The reason why Choo Shin-soo’s ‘forgiveness’ remarks are a problem
But this radio remark was different. Another club public relations official said, “Interviews in Korea usually go through the gatekeeping of the club’s public relations team, so controversial remarks do not come out. I don’t think that’s what I said,” he said.
Throughout the actual broadcast, Choo Shin-soo maintains the attitude of a foreign player who has briefly experienced Korean baseball rather than a Korean player playing in Korea. It even feels like a foreign player who has finished his KBO league life is giving an impression of Korean baseball in an interview with a local American media. One baseball veteran said, “These days, even foreign players don’t carelessly say disparaging things about Korean baseball anywhere. It’s distasteful that this kind of respect is missing from his remarks.”
Kim Hyun-soo, who became the target of Choo Shin-soo’s “sniper” while staying still, said in an interview leaving the camp, “The national team does not go out just because we go out, but is selected. I think it’s right for a player with skills to go out,” he refuted head-on. In Korean baseball culture, where the hierarchical order is clear, it is difficult for juniors to openly say anything even if seniors say strange things. It is rare to see him confront openly like Kim Hyun-soo. It means that Choo Shin-soo’s remarks are not sympathetic in the baseball world.
The most problematic part of Choo Shin-soo’s remarks, which seems to live in a different world alone, is the mention of Ahn Woo-jin. Choo Shin-soo emphasized that “it seems that forgiveness is not easy in Korea,” and that Ahn Woo-jin “repented of his mistakes, was punished, and was suspended from business trips.” He portrayed Ahn Woo-jin as a victim of unreasonable treatment.
Will it be easy for the U.S., where Shin-Soo Choo played, to forgive? In Korea, even today, the problem of athletic club leaders wielding abusive language and violence against players continues. Violence in sports clubs, starting with the coach and passed down from the coach to the seniors and from the seniors to the juniors, has not yet disappeared. In the U.S., if a coach stabs a player with his hand, he is immediately kicked out. It is difficult to imagine a senior hitting a junior or making them act foolishly. It is an environment where cases like Ahn Woo-jin or Kim Yoo-seong (Doosan) cannot emerge. It is strange that Choo Shin-soo, who played in Korea until his senior year of high school and who clearly knows this, says ‘forgiveness’ while ignoring the structural differences between Korea and the United States.
It is said that it has improved a lot compared to the past, but the problem of violence in the academy sports club is still deeply rooted. A few years ago, ahead of the rookie draft, the head of a club complained in a phone call with a reporter, “Excluding all the school bully players, there is no player to pick. What should I do?” In the end, the club nominated a player with a history of school violence in the upper round. It was a condition of asking for forgiveness from the victim, agreeing to it, and receiving a memorandum stating that ‘I will not make it a problem later’.
Same with other clubs. Even a player with a history of abuse had an agreement with the victim and was nominated as a pro without any problems if the facts were not known to the outside world. Players who could not reach an agreement with the victim were nominated in a lower round compared to their skills. In a situation where it was impossible to single out the perpetrators of violence in the sports department, a compromise was reached by giving opportunities to players who had ‘flaws but agreed with the victim’ rather than ‘flawless players’.메이저사이트
The important thing is that the agreement with the victim is not ‘indulgence’. Apology, agreement, and forgiveness are the basic principles that humans should do to humans, and are only the beginning, not the end, of solving problems. All sins should not be forgiven, and national team qualifications should not be restored, military service benefits, or the way to advance overseas should not be opened. Even after ‘getting everything you deserve’, you should continue to reflect and ask for forgiveness, waiting for the victim and society to acknowledge your ‘sincerity’.
This is the reason why Ahn Woo-jin, whom Shin-soo Choo defended, was not forgiven. Ahn Woo-jin, who bowed his head to reflect and regret at the time in 2017, became the best pitcher in the 2022 season, and then made a statement about the main guest match, causing controversy. He was not a senior who hit his junior, but a ‘good senior’, and positioned himself as if he was a ‘victim’ rather than an assailant.
However, this process backfired when it was revealed that he still had not received forgiveness from one of his victims. The failure of the poor public opinion match led to the deterioration of public opinion in the baseball world and the exclusion of the WBC team. A baseball official criticized, “Given the statement made by An Woo-jin and a series of behaviors, it is questionable whether he sincerely reflects on the past school violence incident. No matter what An Woo-jin says in the future, it is difficult to be recognized for his sincerity.”
Shin-soo Choo’s words can be refuted with Shin-soo Choo. Choo Shin-soo said, “It is not easy to forgive in Korea,” but he himself was forgiven more easily by Korean baseball and fans than anyone else. At the time of returning to the KBO League in 2021, no one took issue with the history of drunk driving in the past or the controversy over the national team’s ‘eating and running’. During the two years he played in Korea, he has been an exemplary player without any major controversy or gossip, but he lost so much because of this mistake. Above all, it was revealed how he viewed Korea and Korean baseball. There seems to be no other way other than a sincere apology to the victims of school violence as well as his baseball colleagues and fans.