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Hah Eun-joo, Tallest Female Basketball Player in Korean History

Hah Eun-joo, Tallest Female Basketball Player in Korean History

Posted January. 02, 2003 22:23,   


Future of Korea`s female basketball is getting brighter day after day.

It`s partly due to Hah Eun-joo (20, studying in Japan). Hah, standing 202cm, is considered the core of the future of the Korean national team which is aiming at renew its victory in 1984 L.A. Olympics in the upcoming Athens Olympics next year.

After grabbing the silver medal, the Korean national team has failed to get to the final in various world championships. Reason? Simply, the opponents were too high. Lack of a tall center was the main reason for South Korea`s failure to advance into the final in the 2000 Sidney Olympics.

Hah, daughter of Hah Dong-gi (205cm) who served on the national team in the 1980s, is the highest player throughout the 70-year history of South Korea`s female basketball. Kim Young-hee (41), who was called Elephant Center in the 1980s, was not so agile due to her ailment of giantism. Hah, however, is agile and speedy like other "short" players, and makes accurate shoots.

Cho Seung-hyun of the Women`s Korea Basketball League said, "Just by putting Hah under the basket, our women`s team can play a totally different game. If she gets experiences, she will become a player who could stand out in the world."

Hah is the "hand of Midas" that makes out victories. Ever since her elementary school days when she first started her basketball career, she has always earned championships to her teams. After a severe knee injury shattering her knee bone into pieces, she underwent rehab programs for two years in Japan. Then in March of 2001 when she was a senior at Osaka High School, she picked up basketball again. Hah got her school all the championships. Korean sports experts believe that once Hah comes back to Korea, our national team will top the world as well as Asia. But everything depends on Hah. After leaving Korea due to the severe knee injury, she has received all the medical benefits in Japan. Now, therefore, she considers Japan as her Mother country. In fact, many Japanese once argued for naturalization of Hah to put her on the Japanese national team.

Another obstacle hindering her comeback is her wish to play in the WNBA of the United States. She wants to go directly over to the WNBA. If this plan goes wrong, she intends to play in Japan. Either way, South Korea`s regaining of fame will end up as a pipe dream. Cho said, "The best way is to get Hah to play in the Korean pro league. We plan to persuade her into joining the national team before the Asian Women`s Championship in June."

Sang-Ho Kim hyangsan@donga.com