Tavern Mailbag Aug. 14 Responses (update 1)

Since a couple questions we’ve gotten are more news questions, let’s go ahead and answer those now, and this post will get updated later with any other questions/responses.

Q: Are there any plans to change the conscription laws (mandatory military service) for Korean football players?

A: This was already answered in the comments, but just to repeat the answer is most definitely NO. And I (Jae) do want to really stress the NO. I understand that there are many people who want to see this issue change, but there’s ZERO appetite (politically) to bring this up now, and I don’t foresee that changing in the near future either given North Korea’s unpredictability under Kim Jung-Un and Japan’s decisions to continually rewrite their military history and allow their military to go overseas.

Problems with changing the conscription laws would deal with the issue of fairness – among both the athlete population and general population. If you give footballers the chance to delay/be exempt from duty to play in Europe, would that rule apply to other sports? Would baseball players be exempt if they go to MLB? Basketball players going to the NBA? What about the non-major sports? Korean golfers on the PGA? Swimmers, figure skaters, speed skaters, etc? Does it matter where in Europe they’re playing and how often? Does a player who goes to some small European team or one who signs but just sits on the bench deserve a deferment or exemption?

Perhaps the Israeli model is (as Roy has pointed out) a good starting point for Korea in the future. Where a committee can meet annually and award a certain number of athletes (not just footballers) a deferment so they can continue to pursue their athletic career. Each year current athletes’ status can be reviewed to determine if they are still worthy of their deferment or if it should be revoked.

Q: What’s the status on Park Chu-Young?

A: Same as it was. The Bursaspor rumor has faded a bit with time. There was a rumor on Twitter he was looking at A-League clubs, but nothing concrete has come from it.

Q: What’s going on with the coaching search? Heard it was down to 3?

A: Yes, new/returning chairman of the technical committee, Lee Yong-Soo, told media last week that they have narrowed their search, from an initial 47 down to 3 people (all foreigners). Various media outlets have speculated, based on the criteria stated by Lee, exactly who those three are (Lee won’t say). Names that have emerged are Bert van Marwijk, Raymond Domench, Glenn Hoddle, and Jorge Luis Pinto. Yes, that’s four, but all meet the KFA’s criteria. Van Marwijk seems to be the frontrunner, but that’s purely speculation.

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A football fan who got bit by the writing bug.


    • hey hey, watch it Tim, I like beating dead horses. I wouldn’t be in the ‘beating dead horses society’ if I didn’t! Listen, if the Berlin wall can fall, something that people never thought in their lifetimes that they would witness, if apartheid can be dismantled in South Africa, then hell yeah – some things are possible in this goddamn world. Even if military conscription is a reality in Korea at the moment, deferment for some athletes could be a viable option, especially if it’s presented in a such a manner that could sway the court of public opinion there. I’m talking about a PR blitz with flashy graphics (cue vital statistics), expert opinion, appealing to the national image angle mixed with Korean style nationalism, bringing in Japan in to the conversation to urge citizens to ask – is Korea really going to willingly fall behind to them in football? I would like to say ‘NEVER!’ but the ball is in the Korean public’s court.

      • 1) I am “all knowing”. Thank you.

        2) I hate to be a Debbie Downer (Okay, that is ancient humor, but I’ve watched old episodes of SNL. Beyond the point again.) but… it’s not changing any time soon. I really really really don’t think it will. Do I want it to? Deferment for athletes? Of course! But then, as Jae said, you’d have to offer it to ping-pong players, gymnasts and archers, no? Is Korea (READ: government) really willing to make that jump? Are we going to follow the Israeli model? Will anyone high-profile bring it up? Nope, not now, because it would be political suicide. Major backlash.

        Unless Japan goes and wins a World Cup, the public won’t put pressure. I think (emphasis on think) people think the current system works fine.

        A few months ago, I read somewhere about some speculation by some politician or whatever to try to make it so that an Asian Games Gold wouldn’t be enough. Some sort of points system. Wrong direction!!! I don’t know what the aftermath of that was. Nothing I guess. But the point is, the chances of deferring the service being brought up by a politican/KFA/KOC/whatever, is highly unlikely.

        Your whole idea, Roy, would work in Utopia Korea. I don’t think (emphasis on think) it’s going to wet the appetite of Koreans right now. Not with North Korea threatening to turn us into a sea of fire and Japan… how do I say this… er, being Japan.

        Now I want to live in Utopia Korea…

        You may put away your umbrellas. Raining-on-parade-i-fication complete.

        • 1. if you take the right dietary supplements, yes you will be all knowing. 😉

          2. naw, i’m telling you, it doesn’t have to just be utopia korea for this to happen. Sure, maybe there’s no political will now, but there’s a lot that’s still possible despite perceived intractability in korea. Look how far the public and the government was willing to go with military exemption in 2002. Different situation, different times of course, but if there’s anything we can draw upon in history, nothing is intractable forever. Again, I go with the Israeli model, they’re in a state of war right now, yet are somehow able to work on advancing their football program in the midst of that. [I’ll point out that I don’t support what their gov’t is doing in the occupied territories in Palestine at all, but I’ll leave my thoughts on their Gaza incursion at that.] There are some parallels to draw b/w both countries. Both would like to have a better public international image, in that both would like to have world class kick ass football program. Both have strict military conscription (Israel’s is far stricter). Israel has regional enemies / so does South Korea. Both have a very nationalistic population base. One could imagine Israel’s public would balk at the frivolity of allowing their best athletes to go abroad while everyone else has to serve. When it is explained that everyone still has to serve, it’s just that there is an implicit understanding that for good of the nation (football wise) their best can defer military conscription, to be completed eventually in piecemeal during summer breaks and after their career is over, no one in Israel has a problem with it. I’m preaching to the choir here, I know you read the article on that, but here’s the kicker for that to transfer to Korea – an effective PR campaign can be advocated in Korea, and if it’s explained in this manner, it could be seen as palatable to the Korean public. However no one said it would be easy, this would take work and quite a bit of courage. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility. If the US could drag it’s southern half kicking and screaming into the 21st century (some would argue that only Austin TX has), then hell yeah, this plan could be sold to the Korean public- totally doable. If they the Korean public are somehow ok with the logic of outright military exemption for Korean athletes if they get the right tournament silverware (the ruling originally implemented during a non-democratic era of Korean governance), then this change in format is furthering that to it’s logical conclusion. I know you and I agree on this – it’s a no-brainer.

          As to the other realms of sports like baseball, golf, what have you, it’s a case by case situation. If those other organizations want to get together and collaborate with the Korean FA (that’s if the FA is actively working behind the scenes to advocate military deferment) in working out arrangements with the military, well, maybe that would organizationally make sense. I’m not opposed to them working out an arrangement. By my unofficial count, Korea now has a glut of taekwondo-ists, speed skaters & archers who have military exemption. Great, but obviously for the KNT, we need more footballers playing internationally.

          The main kicker, something that Jae has alluded to from time to time is, do the CRITICAL MASS of people in Korea really care enough about the Korean national team and chugu in general? Sure they care about the KNT, but I openly wonder if it’s merely surface deep. Do they care about Korean football enough to give what Park Ji-Sung, Cha Bun-Kun and Lee Young-Pyo among others advocated quite openly about only a few years ago? I don’t really have an answer to that, and if I did, I am wary of giving it. But not to end on a downer, while this is a majorly critical issue for Korean football – if it seems like an issue that won’t get solved or resolved now – the good news is: nothing is forever. not utopia – we’re talking about for reals.

          • Roy, I would point out that Tim said it wouldn’t work “right now,” not that it would never work, so you actually only confirmed his point. You are right that it doesn’t have to be a utopia, but I think Tim was exaggerating. I could be wrong. That said, your bringing up the ‘glut’ of exempted archers, taekwondo competitors, and speedskaters, but that really has no relevance to the issue nor does it carry much weight, because their exemptions were not, nor should they be, based on each sport being equitably represented. Those athletes and competitors, received exemptions because they actually ACCOMPLISHED an exceptional feat, not because they had great pro opportunities. Furthermore, to somehow claim a broad sweeping rule change for baseball, but go “case by case” for golfers, and baseball players makes what you’re advocating for less serious to take. Baseball in particular is much more popular than soccer. If there should be a broad sweeping change, it would actually make more sense to have a rule change happen for them rather than for soccer players if you’re wanting to make uneven changes like that. Perhaps you didn’t actually mean it that way, when you said, “case by case,” in which case, a clarification would help.

          • ARG! I hate typos. I meant that you advocated “broad sweeping change for *Soccer players, but go case by case for golfers and baseball players…

            I also had a “your” in there when I meant “you’re.”

            Forgive any other grammatical issues, please. =)

          • I guess what I meant in utopia was more of a “everything would have to be extremely well thought out and executed to perfection” for it to work kind of thing.

          • Hey Daniel, if he is referring to the situation as not forever, then we are all good in the hood. Yeah, I guess it’s the utopia thing that raised some red flags for me. Sure it’s a difficult topic, but not impossible to solve. The conventional wisdom is that it’s not something that can be resolved in Korea soon. I would simply venture that while that could indeed be the case, history (since say 1998) does inform us that the situation may not be as intractable as it the current narrative may seem.

          • First, alright Austin! Big ATX (sorry where I grew up/consider my US base of residence). As Roy mentions, there doesn’t need to be utopia, but there does need to be a well-communicated message with very specific details about how the program would be implemented, run, and managed. If such a thing was conceived and created then perhaps in the near future this could happen.

            My worry/wondering is how the program is managed. Because comparing what is generally being proposed here (deferment) to the 2002 case is different. Like the Olympics and Asian Games, that group achieved something. What’s being proposed is a protection of potential so-to-speak. Let’s take Lee Seung-Woo as an example. The kid has all the talent to be a truly phenomenal player, the best this country has ever produced. If he lives up to that potential, than it’s easy to say ‘yes, he deserves exemption/deferment from the army to ply his trade with the best’. But, what if he goes more the Bojan route? What if he ends up bouncing from club-to-club (in Europe) each year being a squad player? Does he still get that ‘protection’ because he could become a better player? If there was a similar player developing in the Seoul or Pohang academy would they be eligible for that treatment or is there just something about Europe that earns them that?

            As to Roy’s wondering about whether a critical mass of people care enough? Compared to the military issue the answer is ‘no’. There isn’t. Maybe you have to be living here and hearing the news and media coverage daily, but it’s not even close. Because the thing is that you can’t just think about the football loving folks. You have to get everyone on board. People who love the game, people who kind of like it, and people who hate it. Because all men serve, the military reaches into every corner of society.

  1. If we bring in Domenech I will lose all hope in the KNT
    It’s not much but the LYS appt gave me some hope
    I guess Rijkaard is ok, Antic/Prosinecki are fine with me too
    but the KFA has a real dumb “speaks english” clause in the requirements so..

    • You seem to be pulling these names out of thin air. Granted the media is technically doing that, too. Where did you get those names?

      • Antic and Prosinecki have been reported to have expressed interest in the job, but neither name has come up lately. Rijkaard was thrown out there (speculation), but I haven’t heard of the KFA contacting him or him contacting them.

        • Perhaps I should clarify, where are these names coming from SINCE the reporting of the parameter of the accomplishments on the coaches’ CV’s? It seems to me that the qualifications that were listed would rule out Antic and Prosinecki, no?

          • Seemingly, yes. It’s possible they were on the initial list (of about 30 foreigners), but no longer are after discussion and creation of the required parameters. Jinseok would need to answer himself, but I suspect that he’s just commenting on names that have been bandied about before. As far as Korean media goes, the three he mentioned are not in contention for the job.

  2. Well, this is interesting… Especially the line where it says, “Shim said he’d like to help South Korean prospects reach Europe through A.F.C Tubize, but insisted Sportizen didn’t acquire the club just to put young players in Belgium… ‘We plan to acquire a couple of South Korean players, either in a full transfer or on a loan, by the end of this month (when the summer transfer window in European football closes),’ Shim added.”


      • Sorry to comment late on this, yeah this sounds like an interesting idea, having that opportunity to bring Korean talent that way. I’m also cautiously optimistic, emphasis on cautious as Id like to see what the local support base feels about this. If the bottom line first priority of improving their performance is the end result, support base should theoretically be ok with a few more Korean footballers in Belgium. There’s a number of ways blowback could occur but no need atm to throw a bummer party yet. I’d like to see how they manage things first.

  3. Man….a month or so outside of the world cup and its still very frustrating and sad. Earlier I had brought up the propensity of the blame game of our peeps and it played out hard in our game. Heads rolled. All of it was self inflicted beginning with the big head, Coach Hong.

    But did you get a load of that Kim Yu Na story (yeah…was my main intention of posting). The lesson of karma is heavy. But was amazed by how many heads rolled in this one.
    I cannot believe it happened to the Ice Princess herself though. Gossip as example over.

      • Three members of the national hockey team, currently doing their military time (including Kim Yuna’s boyfriend) were caught off-base without permission. They had gotten approval from civilian team coach to buy drinks, but instead went to a (non-special) message parlor. On the way back they were involved in a car accident which was how they got caught. They had tried to cover it up, but failed. I think that’s the story he’s talking about. Only one I know of involving her lately.

        • Three guys axed from team/lose preferential treatment as athletes, coach axed, and several officers demoted/axed for sleeping at wheel.

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