‘Asian invasion’ helps KW kick up a storm

King’s West’s Kenny Seo takes a header during the Warriors’ 7-2 win Tuesday against Evergreen Lutheran. - Photo by James Mange
King’s West’s Kenny Seo takes a header during the Warriors’ 7-2 win Tuesday against Evergreen Lutheran.
— image credit: Photo by James Mange

No group at King’s West has benefitted more from the heavy influx of South Korean exchange students than the boys soccer team. The imported ringers make up a full quarter of the team this season, and coach Jason Meeder couldn’t be happier.

Andy Lee, Eric Jeong, Kenny Seo, David Shin and Daniel Song make up the Asian Invasion.

“The Korean players aren’t only just bodies on the field,” Meeder said. “Each brings a strong ethic to work hard both on and off the field. All of them have formed well with everyone on the team, and have really become a great asset to the team.”

One thing that helps build unity is the fact that four of the five are in at least their second year at the small private school. Andy Lee is in his third year at KW, and he is one of the team captains this season.

“Andy Lee has been with the team the longest and has become not only a leader for the new Korean players, but a leader for the whole team,” Meeder said. “I was happy to give him the title of captain this year due to his great leadership abilities.”

Lee, a junior, also has some great soccer abilities, as he’s one of the team’s leading scorers, booting at least one goal in every game so far, with six on the season along with several assists. Lee played five years on teams in Korea before coming to America. His freshman year he practiced with the team, but was unable to compete because of an eligibility snafu.

“The game is different here,” Lee said. “In the U.S. they are really physical. I think the fields make a difference. In Korea we play on a lot of dirt fields, so you don’t go as hard and fast. We focus more on skills.”

“They are generally better with their dribbling,” agreed fellow captain Brian Paulson, “especially Andy. They don’t tend to force people off the ball as much, and when they do, they tend to use their elbows so they get called for it.”

Kenny Seo sees the differences the same way.

“The American players are in better shape,” Seo said. “It’s hard to run with them, because they’re faster than me. They’re stronger. They’re used to playing a faster style.”

Seo is another returner, although he didn’t come to King’s West until January last year.

“One of the biggest differences,” Seo said, “is in America there is a lot more time to play. In Korea we have to study, study, study.”

One of the things they study here is English. To make things easier, all of the Korean players go by Anglicized names. Andy is really Dong-Hoon, Kenny is Jung-In, Eric is Hyun-Woo, Daniel is Eui-Yul and David is really Min-Woo. Eric is the only one new to King’s West, but he spent last year in school in Kentucky, where he started every game on the school team.

“We’re stronger as group,” Lee said. “The Korean’s get together a lot, but we care about the team as a whole as well. I think having five of us makes us better individually and better teammates.”

The language barrier hasn’t been a problem with the English speaking players.

“It’s more a problem for the coach,” Paulson said, “because he’d like them to speak English more.”

The players all try to stick to English on the playing field, but use plenty of Korean when they can.

“I especially find it entertaining when they try to sing Korean songs on the bus,” Paulson said.

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