After 4 years in Korea, I went to Japan… Ahn Kwon-soo’s Never Ending Story

#11th Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan. In the top of the 7th inning, Lotte left fielder An Kwon-soo (30) chased a foul ball hit by Doosan Soo-bin to the fence and made an out with a sliding catch. Su-bin Jeong looked at left field for a long time as if he was dumbfounded. A scene that clearly shows An Kwon Cheopyo’s unselfish baseball skills. The game on the 11th was Lotte’s last home game of the season, and the last game for Ahn Kwon-soo in front of his Sajik home fans. After the game, Ahn Kwon-soo shed many tears in front of the fans who chanted his name.

#Daejeon Hanwha Life Insurance Eagles Park on the 16th. Lotte attacked in the top of the 8th inning, leading 6-2. Kwon-soo Ahn, who appeared at the plate, picked up the first hit of the game in his fifth at-bat and brought a runner home. 7 to 2. In 7th place Lotte’s final game of the regular season, the last score came from Ahn Kwon-soo’s bat. Lotte coach Jeon Jun-ho received the ball that hit the hit from Hanwha player and passed it to Ahn Kwon-soo who was in the dugout.

Ahn Kwon-soo, who played an active part as Lotte’s top hitter this season, ends his four years in Korean baseball with the game on the 16th and returns to Japan on the 20th. As a third-generation Korean living in Japan, he faced a barrier under the current military service law, which requires military service if you live in Korea for more than three years. He said he once considered joining the military, but as the head of a family, it was difficult for him to leave his wife and one-year-old son living in Japan alone. Ahn Kwon-soo, whom we met at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon last week, said, “I already knew about the military service law from the time I first came to Korea. “He originally planned to retire in Japan, but he wanted to play in a high-level league once, so he took on the challenge.” The reason he decided to go to Korea was the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang held five years ago. “I watched the Korea-Japan match on TV during the Asian Games. The Japanese business team is also of a high standard, but Korea won both times. It was then that he gave up his thoughts of retiring and realized that he wanted to challenge himself in the KBO league. “But he didn’t really expect to be selected in the draft.”

Ahn Kwon-soo chose three hits in the Incheon game against SSG on April 30 last year while playing for Doosan as one of his most memorable moments over the past four years. “I was worried about whether I would be able to succeed in baseball in Korea. If I couldn’t do it last year, I just tried to take off my uniform. But while playing against SSG, I thought, ‘Oh, my baseball skills are working. “I gained confidence and thought, ‘It’s worth a try.’”

Ahn Kwon-soo, who was selected by Doosan with the 99th pick in the 2020 draft, has not had a chance to bat for two years. The suspension of the league due to the coronavirus also made it difficult to adjust to life in Korea. Then, he revealed his presence in 2022 by recording a batting average (0.297) close to .300. His precise hitting and hustle in base running and defense stood out. However, when he tried to return to Japan after last season due to the military service law becoming an obstacle, he was able to play for one more year at Lotte’s offer. Lotte, with Ahn Kwon-soo as the top hitter, was at the top of the league early in the season and made Sajik Baseball Stadium lively with cheers. But his run was halted by an injury. It was the time he chose as his most regrettable moment.

“His right elbow has been hurting ever since the end of April. However, there was a possibility of participating in the Asian Games, so I persevered and played. He took injections to reduce the pain, but they actually made his condition worse. He wondered what it would have been like if he hadn’t gotten the injection… “When I look back, that’s when I regret it the most.” Coincidentally, Lotte fell slowly due to the injury of Ahn Kwon-soo. Ahn Kwon-soo returned to the field after a month and a half, breaking expectations that rehabilitation after surgery would take about three months.

“Seeing the team keep losing made me anxious. I didn’t feel any pain for the first week or so after his return, but then it started again. I was scared when I hit the bat, and I made mistakes in defense as well. Since he was away from the game, I lost my senses. Then from mid-September he started to come back to life a bit. Even though Lotte could not participate in the postseason, I did my best until the end because I thought I had to work hard and show a good performance until the end in front of all my juniors.” At the age of 30, it’s a shame to give up baseball. Still, Ahn Kwon-soo said, “I have no regrets because I did my best.”

“I shed a lot of tears without realizing it while saying goodbye to the fans during my last home game. From the moment I arrived in Korea from Japan until now, the four years have literally passed by in my mind. After coming to Korea, my baseball skills improved a lot, and I met many good friends. “I will never forget it.” During Sajik’s last home game, Ahn Kwon-soo requested the club to play Lee Seung-cheol’s ‘Never Ending Story’ as the featured song instead of the usual exciting dance music.스포츠토토 Like the lyrics, ‘If you miss me, I hope that someday something like that in a movie will come true’, it is said to contain the feeling that the love for Lotte and Korean baseball will never end, and the expectation that it will return someday.

“Living in Korea, I had a hard time because the culture was different from Japan. Even recently, there are a lot of people who are upset that I haven’t contacted them since they returned to Japan. But in Japan, even if we break up, we usually say, ‘We’ll meet again anyway.’ Once I return to Japan, I will study, meet a lot of people, and gain a lot of experience at a consulting company that will help me for the rest of my life. And I will come to Korea often. At the beginning of this year, if I were to compare my life to baseball, I would be in the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs and on the verge of defeat, and I thought it would be nice if we could go to extra innings. Now 3 balls, 2 strikes. “I’m still at bat.”

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