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Doosan Bears’ Kim Dong-ju Makes a Comeback after his Retirement

Doosan Bears’ Kim Dong-ju Makes a Comeback after his Retirement

Posted January. 10, 2005 22:48,   


After being at a loss on what to do, Kim Dong-ju (29, Doosan Bears) went to a construction site.

He reports, “I wanted a tough job because I thought I might go insane if I did nothing.” Staying at his friend’s, Kim Dong-ju labored at an apartment construction site in downtown Incheon from 6:00 a.m. till the afternoon. He carried bricks and performed other manual work with sweat droplets continually forming.

He wore a sweat suit and a cap kept far down on his head so that others could not recognize him. He said that some workers recognized him but did not show it in order to not embarrass him.

Kim Dong-ju used to be paid 20 million won monthly, but as a construction worker, he earned 65,000 won daily. That amounts to 350,000 won per week. Still, he said, “That money was the most precious one to me.”

“It was really hard. I realized that I made easy money and how much baseball means to me. Baseball was the only thing I was good at.”

On January 10, Kim Dong-ju returned to baseball, a comeback that is two months after he abruptly announced his retirement on October 19 last year. In the morning of the same, the Doosan Bears held its opening ceremony and Kim went to Jamsil Baseball Stadium to pick up his baseball gear and to be appointed as the captain by Manager Kim Kyung-mun. The appointment can be interpreted as encouragement for a fresh start as the team leader.

In the afternoon at a Japanese restaurant in downtown Seoul, I met Kim Dong-ju who had been to the Korea Professional Baseball Player Association’s regular session as the captain of Doosan. It was long since I last met him, but I still could see signs of worry on his face. He said he has lost six to seven kilograms.

“It was not a sudden decision to quit baseball. Since the summer of last year, I was thinking about it. I was under enormous stress because of aching wrists, legs, back, and family troubles. I just wanted to quit everything.”

After notifying his team of the retirement, Kim Dong-ju endured many things for two months. He spent time working as a laborer and drinking soju without side dishes. In the end, it was baseball he chose.

“I leaned a lot while working with people who were undergoing various hardships, and it was heartbreaking when my diabetic mother (Lee Jeong-im, 57) shed tears. It just didn’t seem right to quit baseball because of personal headaches.”

Kim Firmly Denied Recent Rumors-

“Is it for more money? No, that is absolutely not true. The manager thought that ‘I hated him.’ We straightened things out like men. It’s that sometimes you just want to die because everything is so difficult. This must have been a step for maturity.” Kim Dong-ju entrusted all of his salary to his team. On January 11, he will be at his first team training and he’ll grab a bat, rather than bricks.

Sang-Soo Kim ssoo@donga.com