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A “Nice Guy” and the League’s Highest Paid Basketball Player

A “Nice Guy” and the League’s Highest Paid Basketball Player

Posted May. 26, 2007 03:38,   


A mother of a basketball player used to tell her son who is much taller than his friends, “Watch both ways before crossing the street” and “Don’t inconvenience others.” As he grew older, she stopped mentioning the former but she still tells him the latter.

Kim Joo-seong (28 years old, 205 cm tall) “hit the jackpot” in his free agent negotiations recently. His annual contract is worth 680 million won for the next five years, totaling 3.4 billion won. Along with Seo Jang-hoon (33), he negotiated a contract worth an annual salary of 470 million won last year, and this year he is getting 210 million won more, becoming the highest paid basketball player in the history of Korean professional basketball. I met him at the JID sports clinic in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province.

“I’m Really Boring…I Don’t Look Like I Would Cause a Scandal”-

“I feel a huge burden on my shoulders because I need to perform well in line with my high salary. I think I was able to negotiate it not because of what I am capable of, but because of the change in the FA system.”

The Korean Basketball League introduced a salary cap system on annual salaries of players this year. Because Dongbu offered Kim the maximum salary allowable to keep Kim on the team, other teams were compelled not to compete with his asking price.

Kim is known as a “nice guy.” He is humble and takes good care of his parents who are disabled.

“People tell me that I am very nice. Sometimes it sounds like I’m a fool. But it’s okay. I think people say that because I try not to disturb them.”

When asked about a coach he respects, he said he respects all the coaches he has worked with. When I told him that sounds too plain, he said smiling, “That is right. I am such a boring person.”

There was no scandal involving Kim. He claims that he “doesn’t have the looks” of scandal-causing people. He likes Lee Yeong-eun, however, who is starring as the sister of actor Park Shin-yang on the TV show “Money’s Warfare” on SBS.

“A few years ago, I met my friend’s girlfriend. Lee Yeong-eun came along with her. I ran into her again a while later when we jokingly said to each other, “Why don’t we say that we are right for one another when we are interviewed by the media?”

He began his career as a professional basketball player in 2002 and has played five seasons so far. He said even though he is young, he is preparing for his retirement.

“Whenever people recognize me, I remind myself, ‘This popularity will not last forever’.” He continued, “I think I will be devastated when my career goes down rapidly while I didn’t make any preparation for the rainy days. If I lose a step, I will retire immediately.”

His first year’s annual salary was 80 million won and that jumped to 220 million won the next year, and to 350 million won a year later, and it rose again to 420 million won, and it was 470 million won last year.

Father Manages His Finances; He Once Did Not Have Enough Money for Tolls-

“I make a lot of money but I don’t know exactly how much comes into my bank account. My dad manages my finances and he saves money in the bank. Because I use a credit card mostly, I don’t carry much cash.”

He showed me his wallet. He did not even have a thousand won. He told me he was embarrassed once before because he did not have money to pay a toll fee. He said even though he does not have cash, he still treats his friends very often.

He told me not to call him a “top star.” Kim Joo-seong is an “innocent young man.” And his fans know that he deserves a top annual salary.