Farewell, Reflections, and Hopes

Hello everyone, it’s Jae (yes, I’m still here, well . . . about that). With Korea’s World Cup run finished, I’ve decided it’s best to officially step down from being a “active” writer on this site. To be honest, I “retired” from the site a few years(?) back, but as the others got bogged down in life, I returned to pitch in when possible. But now, with some new blood coming to the site over the past couple months, it’s time to be the good veteran and step aside, and let some fresh ideas and perspectives come to the forefront. So, with that 안녕히 계세요.

Ah . . . still reading? Okay, then as I bid farewell, I’d also like to share some reflections and memories from writing for this site, and some hopes for the site and Korean football in general.

Reflections

Joining the Tavern

To be honest, I don’t remember exactly when I started writing for the Tavern. I want to say it was sometime in 2011 after the Asian Cup (or perhaps it was a year later in 2012 or was it later than that?). Anyway, at that point there weren’t too many Korean football blogs or English-language content around. I had been writing a little bit about the national team for the World Cup blog following the 2010 World Cup and for the Asian Cup, and then when SB Nation bought out that site and moved only the most popular blogs over to their new platform (South Korea was not one of them of course), I started the South Korea Soccer Blog (SKS Blog). It was shortly after that, that I discovered Roy’s Park Chuyoung post and the Tavern. I don’t remember who reached out to who first, but regardless Roy and I established a fairly friendly and solid relationship quickly, and for a while both SKS and The Tavern served as co-inhabitants of the English-language Korean football blogosphere, and then came the offer to merge into The Tavern.

To be honest, at first I was quite hesitant to join forces with Roy (and Jinseok who had just come aboard). While Roy had always been a very cool guy in our email conversations, I had never really written for someone other than myself. So, the decision to give up editorial control and potentially have someone direct/share ideas and content was not an easy one. Nonetheless, upon joining I realized very quickly that I had made the right decision. Roy had (and has) never been a demanding, imperial boss (of sorts), and it was always a lot of fun to chat with and bounce ideas around with both Roy and Jinseok.

Tim Enters

I’d be remiss not to mention Tim specifically as he was key in helping to keep The Tavern chugging along during a particularly dry spell of posts. In the beginning, all three (Roy, Jinseok, and I) got out our share of articles and posts, but as always life changed and things slowed down dramatically. Jinseok went to university, I got married and had a child, and Roy needed to pursue other projects. The Tavern was facing a massive slowdown with all the writers busy. And so, in came Tim Lee (who I didn’t realize at the time was just a 고딩). Tim, picked up a huge amount of the slack, and (apologies for sounding like one of your parents, Tim) it’s been quite remarkable seeing him grow in his role here at the Tavern. While Tim was (and still is) The Tavern’s 막내 he has gradually grown to be the playmaker here, building connections with other sites and helping to grow The Tavern beyond just the random musings of ours.

Shoutouts

Apologies for not going into more details, but this post is already getting too long (and there is still so much to say!). But I must give a quick mention to all the others who have graced The Tavern with a post or guest appearance: Korea Goal.com’s Steve Han, Nicole Chung, Evelyn Kim, Steve Price, Tom Marcantonio, @KoreaFootAbroad, Takeuchi, Kevin Kim, Namu Yoon, Chisoo Park, and Michael Welch.

Also, shoutouts to those who I got to meet through The Tavern in the greater Asian and global football world: the guys at K League United – Ryan Walters, Paul Neat, Matt Binns, Scott Whitelock (although I don’t think we actually met), Tomas Danicek, Yosuke (@maimaidenden), @KLeagueKilt, Miro Tramita, Michele Tossani, and many, many others.

Hopes

The National Team

Obviously, I hope that the win over Germany shows Korea not to be so afraid of the European and South American sides that have a more ‘fearsome’ reputation, and that Korean players can go toe-to-toe with the big sides. The World Cup was a disappointment overall, but good points came from it, and hopefully the KFA and those in power can built on them going forward. I hope also that the general Korean population becomes more knowledgeable about the always changing world of global football, and becomes more understanding towards the issues that face the national team and Korea’s current overall place in world football.

There are a number of good players in the current squad and a handful more who should come into the squad during the next cycle. It should be an exciting time to be following the national team, and I hope that many more Koreans follow the team and players more frequently (and not just at tournaments).

K League

Where to start with this one? The league needs love, but love is always a two-way street (to be cliche). The league also needs to show love to the fans by making matches more fun and exciting to attend. I love the league, but some of those games are like watching paint dry with the endless long passes and miss-hit crosses. It should surprise no one that KBO wipes the floor with K League in terms of attendance and media attention. Hopefully more fans show some love to their local clubs, and that the clubs re-think how they approach matches and their style of play.

Players Abroad

Just I hope for the best for all that head aboard. Hopefully they have successful careers, earn a lot of money, stay injury-free, and help enhance the “Korean football” brand.

The Site

It should be a fun time to be a writer for this site as well. Asian Games, Asian Cup, new coach, young and exciting players. There’s a lot to cover going into the next World Cup cycle. Hopefully The Tavern continues to be a wonderful place for people who love Korean football to share ideas and thoughts, and generally cover the world of Korean footy. I may be leaving as a writer, but I will of course visit the site regularly and hope to read lots of interesting content and topics (잘 해야지 얘들아 난 댓글을 많이 남길 거야).

Final Notes

Just as an FYI, if you followed me on Twitter (@ArmchairRegista), I will be deleting that account soon. I will create a new account, but I feel it’s necessary to “re-invent” my online persona a bit, as the ArmchairRegista account feels too limiting to Korean football.

Anyway, thank you all who supported my writing at The Tavern, on SKSB, and on the World Cup blog. I have completely and totally enjoyed sharing my thoughts about Korean football over the years. Thank you again for all of your support and comments! 안녕히 계세요.

About Jae Chee 324 Articles
A football fan who got bit by the writing bug.

17 Comments

  1. If you’re not one for prolonged goodbyes, shield your eyes…

    Mr Jae (Mr Jae just has a ring to it) — so while reading this I felt like “we’ve been here before”, which we have. February 1st, 2015, after Korea’s loss at the Asian Cup, you had officially said your goodbye to the site as a writer, and I don’t think I was alone in tearing up a little bit at the time. I was still new then, but it was clear to me that you were simply “too good” for the Tavern (much like Roy and Jinseok), and that we as a community was very fortunate to have you.

    One prescient commentor wrote this back in that 2015 goodbye: “You will be back, I know it. This is just the beginning.” I feel like now’s the time to find that commentor and asks him what the hell happens next… because came back you did – with domestic league updates for those of us too lazy to stay up at 2am out in North America, and then offering your sharp tactical insight as recently as this World Cup as well as participating in the usual previews and debate posts. But you were as big of a help behind the scenes as well, the things readers don’t usually see — keeping the group together with your habitual clarity and pensiveness. I don’t know how other to characterize than, if Jae says something about a topic you’re not too sure on, he’s going to end up being right. (Jinseok and others can back me up on this… Jae is just… always right).

    A testament to how good Jae is is that every year, at least 4-5 posts he wrote 4-5 years ago continue to be among our top 20 most read posts of the year. And others remain still relevant to this day, including “Why No Defenders?” (lol).

    On a more personal note, I remember the first Google hangouts I did with the Tavern – I was, as you said, a high school student with not that much knowledge on Korean football – and the very first question you asked me I believe was something to the effect of, should the new manager (after the 2014 WC) take a look at Moon Seon-min and Suk Hyun-jun (fun fact). I remember desperately googling who those players were as you asked the question and giving a rambling and non-committal answer, which seemed to be to nobody’s satisfaction lol. (this is the sappy part…) Back then, I thought to myself, “man, if I had *half* the tactical knowledge or ability to unpack difficult questions as Jae has, then I’ll have made it on the Tavern”. I don’t think I’ve made it, or ever will – you’re just that good, and we’re going to miss you for sure.

    I really do hope we have the fortune to meet personally in the future. Until then, good luck with all of your passions, family and career. Please visit often — Godspeed and gamsahapnida, Mr. Jae.

  2. Thank you for your hard work and so much love for Korean football.

    We truly owe you a debt of gratitude.

  3. Thank you Jae, I always enjoyed reading especially your tactical analysis. I became an “expert” amongst my peers on football knowledge especially about tactics thanks to this website.

  4. I’ve been more than honored to have had Jae REPRESENT at the Tavern. If you go back and read his analysis of KNT games at the Tavern, you will know just how amazing it was to have that kind of insightfulness at your digital fingertips. Jae was and still is OG here. While he rides off into the sunset, his presence, his time, and his hard work will not be forgotten. Jae helped to build this community and make the Tavern what it is. As we move forward into our 6th year, I can’t help but reflect on the years we both witnessed with some amazing highs and lows of Korean football. 고맙습니다. I will certainly miss your presence at the Tavern. However, there are no goodbyes with you – I’ve forged a lasting friendship with an amazing human being. Here’s to sharing a soju with you the next time I go to Korea.

  5. Any thoughts on Lee kang In possibly becoming a spain citizen to play for their national team?

    • Very low. His father (if I recall) has already spoken out against the reports that there is no plan/intention to become a naturalized Spanish citizen and represent Spain. Korea doesn’t recognize dual citizenship (with a few exceptions), so LKI would have to give up his Korean citizenship as part of the process.

      • Thank you, Jae. I always appreciated your very analytical approach. Are you back in the states now? Or still in Busan?

        Re: Dual Citizenship. The only way you can be a dual citizen is if you are the child of a South Korean citizen born in another country carrying the citizenship of that country.

        • I’m still living in Jeju, but work, family, plus other things mean I simply don’t have the time to continue to post enough to warrant (officially) being a member of the writing staff on this site.

          You may know more than I do about dual citizenship, my understanding (admittedly from a few years ago) is that even in your example dual citizenship is limited to those under 18 and then you must choose and renounce one of them. My daughter has current dual South Korean and American citizenship (US father, Korean mother), but she will need to pick when she turns 18. I, as an adopted Korean, can regain and permanently hold dual citizenship if I pass the citizenship test, but I can not claim any benefits of American citizenship whilst residing in Korea (and vice versa while in the US).

          • I’m very excited to hear the staffs insite on the up and coming Asian games… This is probably Sonnys last realistic chance for army excemption.. looking forward to seeing Lee kang In, Sonny, and LSW together..
            How does our defence look?

          • Stay tuned, we have some good content lined up for you re: Asian Games in the coming weeks 😉

            Our central defense seems fine (look out for Jung Taewook, real good no nonsense defender), but Kim Hak-bum again is uncertain about the fullback position. He reportedly was looking into a wild card, but… there’s no overage player w/o military service who is really a quality wild card pick…

          • I only found this out, unfortunately, because of my own recent issues. You’re supposed to choose before 18. If you don’t, however, you remain dual citizen, but for men, you have the looming threat of being taken away to the military. I asked if I’m allowed to renounce Korean citizenship and was told past 18 years of age, you aren’t allowed to renounce. My assumption is this is to block eligible men from renouncing citizenship and thereby keep the pool of conscripted men as large as possible. Anyway, my plan was to be here in Korea for a year with my wife and kids while wife does research, but apparently, I can’t… Cuz… Military. Sigh. So ridiculous. I’m born in the US, but SK thinks it owns my body.

  6. @Daniel (sorry, can’t reply directly to your comment for some reason), but sorry to hear about your issue. I’ve heard similar stories of Korean guys who were born overseas to Korean parents who forgot to renounce their kids’ Korean citizenship, and they got stuck in Korea bc of it. Horror stories of people who came to teach or visited, and then got stopped at the airport bc of military duty. Relating to the original question (re: Lee Kangin), I think though that it’s a bit of a grey area. I think as far as Korean citizenship law is concerned, people in that position are supposed to renounce one, but obviously Korea doesn’t track those that don’t until they enter the immigration system (coming/going from Korea). Are you in Korea now? I wonder if they won’t allow you to renounce bc you’re in Korea. I’ve heard of people renouncing at the embassy in the US or other foreign nations.

    • Oh, I wasn’t speaking to the LKI circumstance. Him trying to play for Spain sounded ridiculous to me. In my circumstance, I have no idea. I was told both in Korea and at the Korean consulate in the States that I couldn’t simply renounce citizenship. But, I seem to be in a very strange, unusual, and rare circumstance. Shrug. Yea, I’m in Korea now. It’s annoying that’s for sure.

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