[Magazine S] The Continental Dream: Kim Dae-Ryuk Shoots for the Stars

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[Magazine S] The Continental Dream: Kim Dae-Ryuk Shoots for the Stars

Postby Anonymous13423 » October 5th, 2017, 5:41 pm

Written by Joo Min-Sung
Translated by Melissa Lee

It's no secret that Korea's most popular sports have been split between baseball and soccer; however, basketball has quickly risen in its popularity in the last decade to give both sports a run for their money, no doubt in part to the fresh, young talent from local colleges who turned into the gold medal heroes of the 2014 Asian Games.

While Kim Dae-Ryuk (Kkachi, PG, BLV) was not one of the members in 2014 thanks to his dual citizenship and relative obscurity prior to 2015, he has also been a part of the reason why more and more Koreans are watching FBA broadcasts, and while his smart, classic style of play might not be as eye-catching as that of some other point guards, it was clearly enough to secure him a starting spot for two in a row; his online abrasiveness, while a source of worry for some and derision for others, has also gathered him somewhat of a cult following from the Korean web commenters.

After a few transit flights, I was able to find him practicing away as usual in the facilities of his new team, the Biloxi Voodoo. After a whirlwind of an offseason ended up in him switching both teams and conferences, he clearly had a lot of things he wanted to say. Not all are pretty, but they all added up to an intriguing personality who had a clear sight in what he wanted.

Thanks for participating with us for the interview! Considering that this is your first interview in Korean, would you like to say a word of greetings to your Korean fans?

Kim Dae-Ryuk: Annyeonghaseyo to my fans! This is Kim Dae-Ryuk, otherwise known as Derek Kim, and one of the newest members of the Biloxi Voodoo.

Come to think of it, this is also your first media interview since your transfer to your new team. How do you feel so far?

Kim: Excited, hopeful, slightly apprehensive, but nonetheless confident that this was the right decision.

Not many people expected you to switch teams this offseason. What would you say were your biggest reasons for your switch?

Kim: There were mainly two. First of all, I wanted to play for a team where I'd be respected as a core member, not just some run-of-the-mill PG who feeds passes to the shooters. Secondly, I was afraid of... what's the word? Stagnation.

Would you care to elaborate on your second point?

Kim: I felt like I wasn't making a lot of progress on the team last year compared to my rookie season. Winnipeg in general felt like I was playing in the same mold of strategy against every single team, and I don't think the other members really felt confident in trying out different styles for different games... even when the team was struggling.

So would you say you're looking for change in Biloxi?

Kim: Definitely. For one thing, I'm looking forward to playing with my new teammates. They've got their different strengths and weaknesses, but I can already see that they've got a lot more flair compared to what I've seen before. I'm also going to try and make some adjustments to my playstyle, given what worked and what didn't.

What would those adjustments be?

Kim: I can't tell too much of the specifics, but the past two years I've been called more of a clear-cut, textbook playmaking style point guard... and despite my efforts to shake my opponents in court, they were probably right. Expect a bit of unpredictability added to my play from this season onwards.

One thing Korean fans are looking forward to the most this season is how your partnership with longtime friend Sterling Bengtzing (Marbled Polecat, C/F) will play out. Did you have an idea that he would also choose to sign with the Voodoo?

Kim: I did know that both of us had received offers from Biloxi, but I didn't know if he was gonna join us or try his luck with the Howlers again... I was silently preparing myself to hear that he'd re-signed with Montana, and that he wanted to give back to the team that gave him a chance in the first place. But the fact that he chose us in the end really means a lot for me, and I hope to have an amazing season with him.

Would you agree that your friendship with him seems a bit... irregular on paper?

Kim: I feel like you're saying that just based on our contrasting appearances. We definitely have our similarities going beyond that: we both take the game seriously, we're both second-generation Americans, and we both aren't afraid to say what we want to. (caws)

Fun fact: did you know that Sterling's nickname amongst Korean fans goes back and forth between "Ourling" and "Yourling" depending on his performance each game?

Kim: (laughs) Oh my god... I hope that they don't mind me borrowing those nicknames because that is freaking hilarious!

You're planning on using those nicknames on him, aren't you?

Kim: Of course I am! Although I do hope that #Ourling happens more often. (caws)

While not quite on Sterling's level, you've also gathered a reputation for your trash-talking on social media.

Kim: (laughs) Oh god, I like where this is going...

One of your recent controversies have involved you publicly speaking out against the Tallahassee Typhoons' victory in the FBA finals, including calling their head coach "what's wrong with the FBA".

Kim: I was probably about five to ten percent angrier than I should have been that night. What made me angry, though, wasn't just that their head coach pretty much single-handedly killed the career of a legend in the making. It was that everyone involved seemed to brush it off, that it was just an unlucky injury, that a Howlers fan spilling soda on the court was a bigger deal than a coach butchering a player just to get a ring... Honestly, if my own career ended like that, I'd be livid. I wonder if Korber's gonna regret his words in that interview in ten years from now...

I appreciate your honesty. Korean fans have sure been split on your behavior on social media; some have called it "refreshing" while others have called you a "walking time bomb". What are your own thoughts on this matter?

Kim: Honestly, in the eyes of my haters, the time bomb has gone off a few times already... (caws) I'm aware that my kind of trash talking isn't really for everyone, and that one really bad comment might possibly ruin my reputation for good. But while I do pull it off as a way to shake my opponents, I'm not really the type to hold back on what I see as wrong. And hey, I'll always appreciate a bit of polarized opinions on myself than just a unified "oh he's a good player" kind of opinion.

Thoughts on how this FBA season will play out?

Kim: Of all the division winners last season, I think the Minutemen have the best shot at keeping their division; Bangor looks really dangerous with Wildfyre as well. On the West... I'm really not sure on how it's gonna play out but the Bikers look really scary so far. As for us... I feel that we've got enough team power to make it into the playoffs this time, and if luck's on our side, we're gonna be able to challenge for more. One thing's for sure: it's gonna be one heck of a ride.

Thoughts on the point guard competition in your new division compared to your previous one?

Kim: Not having to face Wildfyre for eight games a season again is definitely a huge plus! (caws) I feel like Wendy Brown, despite all her personality flaws, is gonna be the toughest challenge for me in this division. Sawyer's a good player, but I feel he makes up for some of his flaws with his leadership on the court. As for the Typhoons... let's just say it wouldn't be the first time I've had to school a shooting guard posing as a point guard.

Despite the increase in basketball's popularity, Korea still has relatively tough luck in producing FBA-level talent, especially compared to their next door neighbors, Japan. Why do you think this is the case?

Kim: This probably comes from the height limitations of Korean players, but I think the lack of freedom to play the positions they want to does affect player development in a bad way. If [Lee] Jin-Sung had stayed in Korea, I fear he might have been forced into a bigfur role just because of his height. Popularity takes a while to turn into decent prospects, though, so hopefully in a few years there's gonna be a lot more familiar faces over here. (caws)

Our final question: how do you wish to be remembered as a player?

Kim: In the end, I hope that I'll be remembered as myself, a smart-ass point guard who acted on his dream to shoot for the stars when he could. I've seen comparisons that I'm a "downgraded version" of some other player, but this is hopefully the year those comparisons end.

Thanks again for doing this interview with us today. Any last words that you'd like to give to your fans?

Kim: It's been a great two years in the FBA so far, and all of your attention, both positive and negative, has been one of the reasons why I keep coming to practice on 6:00 A.M. in the morning. Thanks for your support, and I hope you're gonna love this coming season as well!

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