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S. Korea finalizes list of 5 candidates for nat'l baseball manager

Sports 14:13 January 23, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday finalized a list of five candidates for the national baseball team managerial position.

The technical committee at the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) met for its second meeting at the KBO headquarters in Seoul, chaired by technical director Kim Si-jin.

Kim Si-jin, technical director for the South Korean national baseball team, speaks to reporters after a meeting at the Korea Baseball Organization headquarters in Seoul on Jan. 23, 2019. (Yonhap)

After the meeting, Kim told reporters he and six committee members have come up with five candidates.

"I can't name names yet, but I can tell you that we were able to form a consensus on the candidates," Kim said. "We all felt that the candidates' track records were an important part of the process."

But Kim did hint that the two names that have been bandied about in the media made the list. Kim Kyung-moon, who led South Korea to the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Cho Bum-hyun, the skipper for South Korea's gold medal run at the 2010 Asian Games, are regarded as two of the strongest candidates.

"I think the media may be a step ahead of our committee," Kim Si-jin said. "The media and our members share similar thoughts on candidates."

Both Kim Kyung-moon and Cho have enjoyed success in the KBO too. Kim, 60, managed the Doosan Bears to back-to-back Korean Series appearances in 2007 and 2008, and more recently, he led the expansion NC Dinos to four consecutive postseasons from 2014 to 2017. Kim has never won a Korean Series ring, and the 2008 Olympic gold medal remains his crowning achievement.

Cho, 58, won the Korean Series title with the Kia Tigers in 2009. He served as the inaugural manager of the expansion KT Wiz from 2015 to 2016.

Kim and Cho were teammates as catchers on the Bears in the mid-80s.

In this file photo from April 6, 2018, Kim Kyung-moon, then manager of the NC Dinos, takes off his cap to the press after the team's Korea Baseball Organization regular season game against the Doosan Bears was canceled at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Kim Si-jin, the technical director, said the committee ranked the five candidates based on their preference, and he himself will be contacting the five in order.

Kim was named the new technical director last December, with the national baseball program in shambles following the Asian Games in Jakarta earlier in the year.

Former manager Sun Dong-yol stepped down in November amid a controversy surrounding his Asian Games roster choices. South Korea won its third straight gold medal at the tournament but was not widely celebrated in the baseball-crazed country.

Sun and his coaching staff put together the team for the Asian Games, a departure from the earlier practice where the technical committee, usually headed by a former KBO club manager, wielded more power and picked teams for international tournaments.

At first, Sun was defiant in the face of criticism that he'd picked undeserving players to help them earn military service exemptions but succumbed under mounting pressure and quit in disgrace. Sun's term was to run through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Premier 12, scheduled for November 2019 as a qualifying event for Tokyo 2020, will be the first major competition for the new national team skipper.

In 2020, baseball will return to the Olympics after an eight-year absence. South Korea won the most recent Olympic baseball gold, in Beijing in 2008, and won the inaugural Premier 12 in 2015.

Baseball in Tokyo will feature six nations. At the upcoming Premier 12, the top finisher from the Americas and the top country from the Asia/Oceania region, excluding Olympic host Japan, will earn direct entries into Tokyo 2020.

In this file photo from July 13, 2016, Cho Bum-hyun, then manager of the KT Wiz, watches his team in action against the Nexen Heroes in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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