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“73-Year-Old Hallyu” Sweeps Japanese Women’s Basketball

“73-Year-Old Hallyu” Sweeps Japanese Women’s Basketball

Posted January. 11, 2005 22:12,   


It has been 44 years since he worked as a coach. Although he is over 70 years old, his passion for basketball is still strong.

Im Young-bo (73, photo) is the head coach of the Japan Airlines team of the Japan Women’s basketball league. The Japan Airlines team, which he leads, won the championship in the prestigious 71st National Championship that ended on January 9. It is the first championship since the foundation of the team in 1967. The team attracted particular attention from the local media by winning the championship by besting Chanson Cosmetics and Japan Energy, which were alternatively ranked in first place for the last 16 years.

Coach Im, whose team is currently in second place in the Japan Women’s League, which will resume play on January 23, expressed his happiness, saying that the victory is more valuable than any other championship, and that Korean-style training focusing on physical strength and teamwork seemed to finally pay off. As four out of the “best five” players of the team are working as flight attendants, the team did not have sufficient training. But his rich experiences as a coach and excellent leadership yielded a valuable result.

Having started his career as a coach in 1961 with Dongshin Chemical, Im pulled off 28 consecutive wins as a coach of Kookmin Bank. After assuming the post of coach of the Japan Airlines team in 1998, he upgraded the team from a third level team to a second level team in one year. He successfully brought the team to the first level in 2000 and was tossed to the sky for victory this year.

The championship showed the power of Hallyu or Korean coaches, as the semifinal features not only Im’s team but also Chansong Cosmetics under Chung Joo-hyun, former coach of Kolon; Toyota Motor Corporation under Chung Hae-il, former coach of Kookmin bank; and Japan Energy for which Kim Pyeong-ok worked as technical advisor until last year.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com