Much Ado About Nothing?

The big news going around Korean football circles today is an article written by Kim Hyeon-Hwe and appeared on Nate Sports. The article details some comments posted by Yoon Suk-Young and Ki Sung-Yueng through various social networking sites (namely Twitter and Facebook). The article has gained a fair amount of attention, and at this time of writing Ki Sung-Yueng (and the article) were some of the top searched words on portals Naver and Daum.

Before we talk a little about the article, a disclaimer. My Korean is fairly low-level. I can hold a basic conversation, watch TV shows and have a general understanding, and so on. But Reading full length articles is a bit much. So, if I have mistranslated something or am not accurately conveying the meaning correctly, my apologies. Also, warning. If you have a better grasp at Korean then I do, by all means, please correct anything I say in the comments.

So, the article. The article highlights one tweet by Yoon Suk-Young and some tweets and Facebook posts by Ki Sung-Yueng. Obviously due to his higher profile (particularly on the heels of his marriage to actress Han Hye-Jin), Ki Sung-Yueng is getting the bulk of the attention.

Yoon’s tweet was directed at Choi after Choi made some comments about a player’s ability and blood types. If you are unaware, Koreans tend to take blood types quite seriously, firmly believing that your blood type reflects your personality and traits (think like how some westerners treat star signs). Choi (I believe, I don’t really remember when he said this) said that for defenders, those with type O blood are the best. This falls in line with general Korean beliefs about type O blood. Natural leaders, athletic, driven, focused, and so on. Type B (which is the one he contrasted with) are considered to be selfish, sometimes lazy, and un-focused. Yoon’s tweet mocked Choi’s statement and he listed some defenders from the 2002 World Cup team with type O blood as well as some of the Olympic team defenders (and Park Ji-Sung).

While Yoon’s statement seems to literally back Choi Kang-Hee, the tone of it is quite mocking. Yoon seems to be stating, “yes, because all of these players had type O blood, that’s why we did well.” The sarcasm level seems to be quite high.

My best literal translation: “Semi-final round of the 2002 World Cup – Lee Young-Pyo, Kim Tae-Young, Choi Jin-Cheol, Song Jong-Kook. 2012 Olympic bronze medal – Yoon Suk-Young, Kim Young-Kwon, Kim Chang-Soo and the sadly missing Hong Jeong-Ho. Strangely all type O blood type. The other best defense Park Ji-Sung O blood type.”

Then we come to Ki Sung-Yueng. The main post that Ki is getting criticized for is one that he made last year when he was still at Celtic. In his post he seems to call Choi out for highly qualifying Ki’s good performance with Celtic that season. The impression I got from it (and again I may be wrong), is that Ki felt he was having a very good season with Celtic. Scoring a best 7 goals with the team. Ki also seemed to take a swipe at Park Chu-Young at Arsenal, saying that he [Park] was not doing as well as he [Ki] was. The impression is that Choi seemed to have told him that Celtic does not play in as competitive a league, which is why his numbers were better.

I don’t make much of the actual comments (assuming I got the general gist right), but it is a bit concerning how openly the two made these comments against the coach. Yoon Suk-Young made his on his twitter account (public) while Ki made his on his private Facebook account. I don’t imagine Ki thought they would be aired publicly, but still. . . I don’t necessarily disagree with what either said, in terms of correctness, but it does point to some underlying issues.

One is the reported ‘rift’ between the coach and the overseas players. Another is the slight arrogance that seems to be manifesting itself. A third is that within the sporting structure that is a team, it’s not acceptable to openly criticize the boss (even if the content is fairly benign). It seems apparent that Hong Myeong-Bo will have some relationships to heal and mend as he comes into the job. Another is that he will need to ensure that players stay humble and respectful. A third job he will need to do is make sure that players understand the dangers in using social media. Players getting in trouble over Twitter comments or Facebook, me2day, mini-hompi’s, and so on isn’t new. But it’s relatively uncommon within the national team, with most being wise enough not to put anything controversial on their accounts.

As the title of this post states, I think ultimately this situation is a bit overblown, but it is something that should be kept an eye on.

About Jae Chee 339 Articles
A football fan who got bit by the writing bug.


  1. So, about the whole thing about blood type linked to personality … it’s from Japan.

    And it’s bigger there than it is in Korea. Dating services, school classes, politicians, job interviews – in Japan, you may be very well asked to give your blood type. The Japanese Olympic women’s softball team roster was selected and trained based on blood type. If you’re a B-type in Japan, your employment prospects are very narrow.

    There’s a term in Japan – “bura-hara” – meaning harassment based on blood-type. It’s officially against the law to discriminate on blood-typing, but it’s still very widespread. Some places require an actual blood test at interviews.

    And so this completely screwed-up, absolutely unscientific, quasi-fortune-telling method of categorizing and discriminating people based on something from birth started in Japan, and some bright guy decided to import it into Korean culture. (Screw you, guy.)

    The kicker? Japanese blood-typing theory originates … in Nazism. Yep. See, the Nazis had all these big theories about racial hierarchies and eugenics and in the 1930’s, their Japanese allies adapted this moronic drivel in order to breed superior soldiers (Not even joking).

    That went away, but in the 1970’s, some dude with no medical credentials popularized it again (thanks, dude), and now that dude’s son – having gotten very rich – continues to promote the idiocy (thanks, a-hole), with his “Human Science ABO Center,” an organization with absolutely no scientific or medical accreditation.

    If you ever meet someone who believes this nonsense, don’t trust that guy for medical advice. Or help with your biology homework.

    And, for God’s sake, don’t ever let him coach your national soccer team. Especially if he designs his team based on it. He doesn’t get science or common sense.

    And he’s upholding the tenets of Japanese breeding projects and Nazi race theory.

    Choi Kang Hee =accidental Nazi?

    • Thanks for the info – I was wondering where all this blood type pseudo-science nonsense came from. And very chilling too.

      That CKH suscribed to that absurd theory -that we had a person this backwards-thinking coaching the KNT…it’s abysmal.

    • Thanks for the history on it. I know it’s big in Japan. It’s pretty big here too, I’ve been asked regularly what my blood type is by family, co-workers, and so on. But I don’t think they take it very seriously. It’s kind of like horoscopes in the west. If it fits you then it’s like “oh, well of course since you’re type ___.” But if it doesn’t then it’s just “oh, whatever”

  2. Jae, I agree with you – there has to be upmost caution in the use of social media. If there has to be training on all this – either individual clubs or the KNT needs to coach these young players on safe / proper usage. Respect – (sigh) yes you are right about this, players need to be (outwardly) respectful to whoever is in charge of the KNT. But there are layers of culpability here – Choi aired some dirty laundry in complaining about players like Ki and Yun – but his incompetence and lack of management has much to do with all this. Let’s hope this all blows over – lesson learned for the young’uns and hope the KNT never acts in such an incompetent manner – like hiring the likes of CKH ever again.

    • Indeed basic training should be done with SNS (I heard Ki has closed/quit using FB and Twitter, haven’t checked though). And yes, the respect thing should go both ways. I think there is, strange as it may seem, a cultural problem. Choi, being very old school, probably thinks that since he is higher on the hierarchy (in age and position) that he is free to do and say as he wants to the players, and that the players being younger and lower on the totem pole, should unquestioningly do what he says and not speak out. The players, growing up in a more westernized sense, don’t completely follow the rigid hierarchy that traditionally exists in Korean sports. And with both of them now living overseas, particularly Ki who has spent considerable time in Australia and England/Scotland, I feel have become a bit more outspoken in the western sense.

      Ultimately, it would behoove all parties to shut up and move on, and I sense that they will. It’s difficult to imagine that Hong Myeong-Bo would say the kind of things that Choi did, and it’s equally difficult to imagine the players publicly insulting him on SNS.

      • word Jae! There’s no way any players, both KPA’s and K-Leaguers would diss HMB in any way shape or form. He has EARNED that respect. Choi on the other hand…

  3. Btw, Ki was not taking a swipe at PCY. What Ki meant was that CKH confessed to viewing NT players in Europe as headcases, and this applies just as much to PCY who can’t get playing time at Arsenal as KSY who scored 7 goals for the Celtics.

    I know KSY is getting a lot of flak for his comments, but I bet many of those who are angry with KSY for being critical were the same ones who blasted CKH for not producing results. Personally, I think that whoever leaked KSY’s fb post to the public did it out of spite. After all, KSY did just get married to a popular and pretty actress, and things seem to be going pretty well for him on the whole. If the “leaker” was doing this out of support for CKH alone, then better times to do so would have been either immediately after the post was made, or immediately following CKH’s resignation.

    • Ahh, thanks for the clarification on the Park Chu-Young comment. It didn’t seem to make sense to me, but my grammar/vocab can be a bit shaky. I’m sure it’s largely the same people, as I suspect the roots of the anger are the same. Tarnishing Korea’s image. I actually suspect Ki’s account may have been hacked rather than someone he let on his account leaking it.

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