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Korean Team in Japan Baseball League Named `Haechi`

Posted December. 24, 2009 08:15,   


Haetae is a horned creature in mythology that is a guardian against fire and disasters, and is believed to know how to tell right from wrong.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government designated the mythical creature as the city’s mascot last year. It is stepping up efforts to promote Haechi through the planned installation of sculptures at the Seoul city hall and Hannam Bridge.

Critics, however, are questioning why Haechi is the city’s mascot, saying it also exists in China and Japan. Thus, the city’s push to promote Haechi as its mascot is under fire.

Despite this controversy, a baseball team in Japan comprising ethnic Korean players and calling itself Haechi will join the Kansai Independent League early next year.

Based in Osaka, a city with a high population of ethnic Koreans, the team originally decided on the name “Turtle Ships.” That plan was scrapped, however, over fears that the name could raise anti-Korea sentiment. In the 16th century, the turtle ship was used by Korean admiral Yi Sun-shin to defeat a Japanese armada. Working-level officials of the Kansai league also expressed discontent over this name.

The team then chose Haechi after learning that it was Seoul’s mascot. It then secured the right to use Haechi images, so players will wear uniforms and jackets with the Haechi logo.

A Seoul city official welcomed the team’s name, saying, “If the team performs well and draws attention, it’ll help promote Seoul and Haechi.”

Launched this year, Kansai is Japan’s third independent league and has four teams including Haechi. Each team will play 72 games, and Haechi will play six of its games in Seoul.

Park Cheol-woo, former assistant coach for the Kia Tigers of Korea, is considered a candidate to manage Haechi. On the player roster is Sohn Ji-hwan, who has played for the LG Twins and SK Wyverns of Korea.