Wed. May 31st, 2023

aiming for Korea Expressway Corporation to win the V-League Women’s Division in the 2022-23 season. The 3rd place team in the regular league repeatedly knelt down 2nd place Hyundai Engineering & Construction and 1st place Heungkuk Life Insurance. During the Championship Series (Best of 5), after 2 losses in a row, he made a miracle of 3 consecutive wins. This is the first record in V-League history. Korea Expressway Corporation’s upset victory unintentionally brought about a large butterfly effect. It is the sudden retirement postponement of the ‘Volleyball Empress’. 

Kim Yeon-kyung revealed a surprise in the middle of this season,온라인카지노 “It is true that I have concerns about retirement.” Afterwards, rumors circulated in the volleyball world that if Heungkuk Life Insurance won the combined championship, Kim Yeon-kyung would announce her retirement. A picture was drawn of Kim Yeon-kyung leaving the court while receiving applause from the top spot. After the season, Kim Yeon-kyung became a free agent (FA), so there were no obstacles. However, the championship was unexpectedly lost to Korea Expressway Corporation, and Kim Yeon-kyung’s future became uncertain. After the championship match, Kim Yeon-kyung’s move shook the entire volleyball board.

At the V-League Awards Ceremony held on April 10, Kim Yeon-kyung came to a conclusion at the end of the long run. On this day, after being unanimously selected as the season MVP (5th personal total) by the second press corps ever, Kim Yeon-kyung said, “I’m trying to play (volleyball) a little more now.” “He wants to join a team that can win a unified championship,” he said. This is the part where you can see how great the pain of the runner-up was. Since there has been no domestic league championship since the 2008-09 season, the championship spot is bound to be coveted.

Kim Yeon-kyung has experienced three championship wins as a member of Heungkuk Life Insurance in the domestic league. Since his rookie days, he has been very active, raising the team from the bottom of the previous year to the unified championship team in the first year of the pro league (2005). In the first year of her professional debut, she swept the top scorer award, offense award, and serve award, and she vomited the spirit of holding the regular league and championship MVP at the same time as the Rookie of the Year. Due to his tall height (192cm) and genius volleyball sense, he was evaluated as a ‘super high school level’ player even before he joined the pros. Kim Yeon-kyung also won the championship in the 2006-07 season when he underwent bone fracture surgery in his right knee, and also lifted the champion trophy in the 2008-09 season, just before advancing to the Japanese Pro League. After that, he took off as a world star while playing in the Japanese, Turkish, and Chinese leagues. 

However, while playing in an overseas league, he formed a bond with his home team, Heungkuk Life Insurance. This is because Heungkuk Life Insurance claimed the rights of the ‘original club’ in the process of signing a contract with Turkiye Fenerbahce in 2012. When playing in an overseas league team as a rental, Kim Yeon-kyung and Heungkuk Life Insurance confronted each other for about two years over whether or not to consider that period as a member of the team. Their conflict ended in February 2014 when the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) finally recognized Kim Yeon-kyung’s ‘free status’.

Kim Yeon-kyung, who played in an overseas league, returned to the domestic league in June 2020 when the Corona 19 pandemic occurred. In a situation where the whole world was shut down, it was unknown how long Corona 19 would last, and the Tokyo Olympics had to be prepared. Since he went abroad with a voluntary withdrawal status, his return team was fixed. It was Heungkuk Life Insurance.

Since the twin sisters Lee Jae-young and Lee Da-young, who are the best players in the domestic league, and Kim Yeon-kyung were united, Heungkuk Life Insurance was naturally mentioned as a candidate for the championship. There was even a saying, “Oh Woo-heung (Heungkuk Life Insurance wins anyway).” However, an unexpected variable occurred. The team disintegrated as rumors of conflict within the team arose and suspicions of school abuse by twin sisters erupted. Kim Yeon-kyung took care of her team atmosphere and played the championship match, but she fell to GS Caltex on her knees. Kim Yeon-kyung left Heungkuk Life Insurance again after returning with only scars. Heungkuk Life Insurance fell to 6th place in the league in the 2021-22 season. Considering that the new team, Pepper Savings Bank, was in last place, it was practically the bottom. Director Park Mi-hee, who has led Heungkuk Life Insurance for the longest time, also failed to renew the contract. 

Kim Yeon-kyung, who briefly played in the Chinese league, returned to Heungkuk Life Insurance after a year with the highest treatment ever in the women’s division (700 million won in total) This is because she had to play one more season at Heungkuk Life Insurance to qualify for free agency. However, her second and permanent return season (season 2022-23) was also a mess. In the midst of continuing the fight for first place with Hyundai E&C, new director Kwon Soon-chan and general manager Kim Yeo-il resigned together. Heungkuk Life Insurance was shaken again by the sudden change of leadership, independent of team performance. After repeating crippling, such as playing games as an acting coach, they regained their normal track only after appointing world-renowned Italian coach Marcello Abondanza.

The reason why there was a question mark on the accompaniment of Heungkuk Life Insurance and Kim Yeon-kyung, who obtained the FA qualification, is because the road he walked as ‘Heungkuk Life Insurance player Kim Yeon-kyung’ was quite difficult. Several clubs other than Heungkuk Life Insurance were interested in recruiting Kim Yeon-kyung, but the salary cap (upper limit on total annual salary) and compensation players were a problem. The total compensation for the V-League women’s division in the 2023-24 season is 2.8 billion won (salary cap 1.9 billion won + option cap 600 million won + winning bonus 300 million won). The maximum amount that a player can receive is also set, but in the case of annual salary, only 25% of the salary cap and in the case of options, up to 50% of the option cap.

Compensation players also became a stumbling block. In the case of Kim Yeon-kyung, when recruiting, 200% of the previous season’s annual salary and 1 compensation player other than 6 protected players, or 300% of Kim Yeon-kyung’s previous season’s annual salary had to be paid. Aside from the compensation money, a team with a large player base could lose a promising player in the future. Pepper Savings Bank, which has a shallow player base, was able to bet on Kim Yeon-kyung, but Pepper Savings Bank, the weakest player, is not the “team capable of winning the integrated championship” that Kim Yeon-kyung wants. On April 16, Kim Yeon-kyung, who had narrow options, signed a contract with Heungkuk Life Insurance for a total of 775 million won (475 million won in annual salary, 300 million won in options), the highest salary cap. Kim Yeon-kyung and his close middle blocker Kim Su-ji also moved from IBK Industrial Bank to Heungkuk Life Insurance. Kim Su-ji is the player Kim Yeon-kyung wanted to play with.  

Kim Yeon-kyung is also aiming for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes Commission. Currently, Yoo Seung-min, the current head of the table tennis association, is an IOC athlete member, and his term ends at the 2024 Paris Olympics. In addition to Kim Yeon-kyung, shooting legend Jin Jong-oh has cast a vote for the athlete commissioner. Kim Yeon-kyung’s reversal of retirement and remaining at Heungkuk Life Insurance are certainly good news for the box office success of the V-League. This is because the effect of Kim Yeon-kyung’s return was great in conjunction with With Corona. Last season, the number of spectators in the V-League women’s division increased by a whopping 38% (347,267) from the 2018-19 season (250,164) before Corona 19. The viewer rating for the 5th round of the women’s championship game was 3.40%, the highest ever in the V-League. As Kim Yeon-kyung renews the contract with Heungkuk Life Insurance, the volleyball fever is expected to continue into the next season along with his ‘Road to Champion’ move. Will Kim Yeon-kyung be able to retire with applause along with the championship trophy in the 2023-24 season? 

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