Kim Yeon-kyung tearfully says goodbye to Taegeuk Mark for good

Yoo Jae-seok and 10 other women’s volleyball legends celebrate with her

“I tried not to cry, but…”

Kim Yeon-kyung (36-Hungkuk Life Pink Spiders), the “Volleyball Empress,” has said goodbye to the “Taegeuk Mark.

Kim played her national retirement match at the Jamsil Indoor Gymnasium in Seoul on the afternoon of Aug. 8. The match was organized by the Korea Volleyball Association and co-hosted by RyanAt and Next Creative.

Kim’s retirement match was a festive affair, with many of the country’s top women’s volleyball players in attendance. Although there were several star players who were unable to join Kim’s retirement match because the Korean women’s national volleyball team is participating in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL), Yang Hyo-jin, Kim Soo-ji, Kim Hae-ran, Han Song-i, and many other star players representing women’s volleyball gathered to celebrate.

The match was divided into ‘TEAM Korea’ and ‘TEAM South Korea’, led by Kim Hyung-shil, who was the head coach of the women’s national volleyball team at the 2012 London Olympics, and consisted of Kim Yeon-kyung, Kim Soo-ji, Kim Myeong-ok, Han Song-i, Hwang Yeon-ju, Park Eun-seo, Yoo Seo-yeon, Kim Se-bin, Ha Hye-jin, Kim Ha-kyung, and Lee Yoon-jung, Do Soo-bin, while TEAM Korea was led by Lee Jung-cheol, who was the head coach of the women’s national volleyball team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and included Yang Hyo-jin, Bae Yuna, Kim Hee-jin, Kim Hae-ran, Lee Ig-eun, Kim Joo-hyang, Kwon Min-ji, Kwon Min-ji, Yuk Seo-young, Ko Eui-jeong, Lim Hye-rim, Park Hye-jin, and Chae Sun-ah.

The matches were played under local rules. The matches were played in three sets, with the first set ending at 25 points, the second set ending at 50 points, and the third set ending with the winner scoring 70 points. The rules of the game are based on the FIVB rules.

TEAM Korea led throughout the entire match. TEAM Korea closed out the first set with a 25-16 lead and then held off a furious comeback by TEAM Korea in the second set to take a 50-46 lead. TEAM Korea had the last laugh. The match ended with a 70-60 victory for TEAM Korea.

Kim’s close celebrity friends, including comedian Yoo Jae-suk and actors Lee Kwang-soo and Ryeo-won, were also in the audience at the Jamsil Indoor Gymnasium to cheer her on. Singers Tei and Kyuwon provided the celebratory performances.

After the game, Yoo Jae-suk, the “National MC,” agreed to an interview at the request of the stadium announcer and said, “I should have come a little earlier, but I’m here now. I played my retirement match in front of so many people, and I think it will forever remain in (Kim) Yeon-kyung’s memory.” ‘When I was cheering with (Lee) Kwang-soo, I thought, ’This is a 메이저사이트 festival,’ and I wanted to run out onto the court, but I held back. Kwang-soo injured his leg,” causing the crowd to laugh. Then, Kwang-soo gave him a pinch, saying, ‘Why would you think of running onto the court during a match?’ causing the venue to burst into laughter.

PD Na Young-seok, who is making waves in the Korean entertainment industry, said, “I am so honored to be able to ‘intuit’ Kim Yeon-kyung’s national retirement game. I am against Kim’s retirement, but she can only play so long, and it seems like today is the day. I am so sad, but with love and joy, I want to applaud her for the longest time. Thank you for your hard work,” and applauded Kim generously.

Lee Kwang-su also took the microphone and said, “I want to say that it was so cool and it will be so cool in the future,” and “I had a lot of fun and I want to support Korean volleyball a lot in the future. I had an intuition and it’s so fun.”

Song Eun-yi, who received the most applause from the crowd, said, “I feel great to be invited to watch Kim Yeon-kyung’s national retirement match. I dare to say that Korean women’s volleyball is divided into before and after Kim Yeon-kyung, and when I saw so many people cheering for her, I thought, ‘When did I like volleyball,’ and I think it was after Kim Yeon-kyung. I hope everyone will continue to support Kim Yeon-kyung no matter what she does in the future.”

A retirement ceremony was held after Kim’s national 안전놀이터 team match. Kim was joined by 10 other women’s volleyball legends, including Yang Hyo-jin, Kim Soo-ji, Kim Hae-ran, Hwang Yeon-ju, Hanyumi, Han Yumi, Han Song-i, Lee Hyo-hee, Lee Sook-ja, Kim San-i, and Lim Jeong-eun (formerly known as Lim Hyo-sook).

“It’s a great feeling to be in the same room with my seniors,” Kim said at her national retirement ceremony. The reason why I became interested in women’s volleyball is because of all the people here and my seniors,” she said, adding, ‘I tried not to cry, but as I talked about it, I got a little emotional.’

Kim continued, “I’ve been running for the Korean national team for a long time, wearing the flag. I have a lot of memories from my childhood when I always dreamed of wearing the flag,” she said, reminiscing about her time running under the flag.

Kim, who competed in the 2012 London Olympics, 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and 2021 Tokyo Olympics, led her team to a four-peat and created a women’s volleyball phenomenon across the country. She also won silver at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, gold at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, and bronze at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games.

Kim is not done organizing events yet. On September 9, the KYK INVITATIONAL 2024 Kim Yeon-kyung Invitational World Women’s Volleyball All-Star Game will be held at Jamsil Indoor Gymnasium starting at 2:30 p.m.

Head coach of the Heungkuk Life Pink Spiders Marcello Avondanza and former Korea Women’s National Team coach Cesar Hernandez will lead the team, which will feature Natalia Pereira, Sheila Castro (Brazil) and Maret Gross (Netherlands), Jamila Nichetti (Argentina), Elin Rousseau (Belgium), Plumjit Tinkaow (Thailand), Miyu Nagaoka and Inoue Kotoe (Japan), and Anna Lazareva and Natalia Goncharova (Russia) will be among the world’s top women’s volleyball stars. Russo played for Hyundai E&C in the V-League during the 2020-2021 season, while Lazareva is a familiar name to fans in Korea, having played as a foreign player for IBK in the 2020-2021 season.

There are also 12 Korean players. Kim Yeon-kyung, Kim Soo-ji, Park Hye-jin, and Lee Ig-eun (Heungkuk Life), Kim Hee-jin (IBK), Park Hye-min, Park Eun-jin, Yeom Hye-sun, and Nolan (Jeonggwanjang), and Lee Myeong-ok, Bae Yuna, and Lee Yoon-jung (Korea Expressway Corporation) are among the 12 leading stars of Korean women’s volleyball.

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