Kim (35, 179 cm) is a veteran among veterans in the WKBL. For 19 seasons, her basketball life has been full of twists and turns. Dissolutions, acquisitions, invalid records, injuries, unexpected transfers, championships, and a return to her home team. If there were a graph of Kim Jong-un’s life, it would be a deep, choppy undulation. Still, he’s managed to stick it out for 18 years and become a league veteran. Here’s how she chose to take the risk of returning to her family’s team, even though everyone told her not to. (The interview was conducted on May 12.)

This article originally appeared in the June issue of Jump Ball.

Why did the veteran return to her hometown team?
Kim was drafted by the Shinsegae Coolcats as a first-round pick in the 2006 WKBL Draft. While Shinsegae didn’t win a championship with Kim, they weren’t exactly a last-place team, but they disbanded after the 2011-2012 season. For a moment, the players were like duck eggs in the Nakdong River, waiting in silence. Hana Overseas announced its takeover, and it seemed like the team would blossom with the support and attention it received. However, the team began to be labeled as the last place team and lost the playoff spot they had just secured in the 2015-2016 season. The entire season was forfeited due to the Chelsea Lee scandal, which involved a mixed-race player.

He then moved to Woori Bank. In his first season with the team, Kim won the title. He won two regular season titles, and five seasons later, in 2022-2023, he won another title. Faced with the prospect of being benched, Kim Jong Un took a reckless gamble. He made a comeback with Chinjung and Hana OneQ, still in last place.

“Ginga Minga.” These were the first words Kim Jong Un spoke in the interview. He asked Hana One Q to prepare his jersey for the photo shoot. On the day of the interview, he saw the Hana One Q jersey with his number 13 on it. Tears formed in his eyes. It seemed to contain many emotions that could not be expressed in one word. Only ‘ginga minga’ and ‘singsong singsong’ could describe his feelings.

How did you feel after the transfer?
I’m still very nervous. The first day I arrived, I didn’t get any sleep. When I was lying down, I thought, “Am I really back? Right now, my training is centered around rehabilitation. There are so many bad places, but the coach doesn’t put any pressure on me and lets me build my body on my own. I’m working out with the juniors separately, so it’s not like I’m stuck with them. When I train with the ball, I get to be around the players a lot, but I don’t have that opportunity, so it hasn’t really hit me yet. I just talk to them at meals and with the rehabilitation group.

Shin Ji-hyun was very happy to see you back, how are you two getting along?
I actually go to her room more than she does. She’s become a lot more reserved. When I came back, I explained the situation to Shinji (Shin Ji-hyun’s nickname) and told him that he shouldn’t expect too much from me (laughs). When I told her that she was older and not the young Kim Jong-un I used to know, she said she would help where she could. I think I’m more dependent on her. When we eat or talk about things, I can feel that she has really grown up. When I was in Hana~KEB Hana, I was really stressed about my grades. I jokingly told Shinji that I finally understood how she felt back then, but I felt bad even as I said it. It’s no secret that I can’t run around for 40 minutes, and I don’t care how many wins they get just because I’m here, my presence has to be a plus.

What are your goals for the comeback?
I want to win a lot and give the younger players a taste of what it’s like to win. I’m going to talk a lot with (Yang) In-young, (Kim) Anna, and the older players. I think In-young has been through a lot. My heart ached while listening to her story. I felt like I wanted my body to go back to where it was three years ago. I think I have to do everything in my power. I realized that I had to give it everything I had.

It must have been a difficult decision to make, how did you decide to move on?
At the end of my career, I thought free agency was pointless, but my home team called me back, and thankfully, I got offers from other teams. I wanted Woori Bank to stay as well. There were many teams that valued my physical appearance more than my value as a player. I think I’m one of those players who had a lot of ups and downs, but I also think that I was able to survive thanks to those evaluations. When I was thinking about transferring, I thought about a lot of things. But only one thing. I remembered the regret that I didn’t make it in my home team. If I stayed at Woori Bank, I wouldn’t have to worry. I would have been able to stabilize my body, and my grades would have been good. It was a risky move at my age. People around me and my family discouraged me. They said, “You’ve won so much, you might as well retire now. Why do you want to buy and suffer?” But I’m too old to retire…. I think I still really love basketball. I felt like I would have regrets. No one knows yet whether it will be a success or a failure, but I wanted to come back to my hometown team and give everything I have and help the younger players grow. 메이저사이트

A basketball life with more thorns than flowers
Kim Jong-un’s basketball life, as he describes it, has been full of twists and turns. It resembles a flower called matricaria, which blooms along rural roadsides and in fields, and whose name means ‘strength in the face of adversity’. In addition to the hardships that Kim Jong-un has faced in the past, there may be hardships waiting for him in the future. Nevertheless, he chose the thorny path once again.

There were many twists and turns before you returned to Hana Won Q. What memories do you have?
In the New World, I didn’t feel like I was in last place. When it was disbanded, I knew there weren’t many companies that wanted to buy it. I was 27 at the time. I was 27 years old at the time, and I knew that there weren’t many companies that could take over. The players below me were crying because they didn’t know what to do with themselves. At that time, my sister Kim Ji-yoon, coach Heo Yoon-ja, and I had a lot of willpower and worked well together. The three of us said, “We need to do well without any losers so that someone will take over.” If we stayed together, someone would take over someday.

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