Last week we told you the story of Canadian Hockey Player Brock Radunske. Radunske is going through the complex and occasionally controversial process of becoming a naturalized Korean citizen in order to play for the country’s ice hockey team.
Read Last week’s story: Citizen Brock: South Korea considers a Canadian
Notes From Korea caught up with Brock to ask him about the citizenship situation, his hopes for the future, and Hockey in Korea.
NFK – The Korean Olympic Committee has rejected previous applications for athlete naturalization. Why do you think you have their support this time?
BR – I’m not sure why they are giving extra consideration this time around. I was interviewed by the committee about a week ago, about my experience in Korea and why I would be a good fit for the team. My wife and I have been here for 5 years and would like to think we have embraced the culture and learned a little Korean along the way. Maybe this made a good impression on the committee.
NFK –If successful, do you think there will be extra pressure on you when competing for the Korean national team in comparison with the Korean players?
BR – There will probably be extra pressure on me, if the passport goes through and I can represent the country, for a few reasons including the uniqueness of this situation. I do, however, have pressure on myself already being an “import” in the Asia league and being expected to perform accordingly, but once the puck drops most of that goes away and I would do what I could to help the team. We would all have some extra pressure on us because there is an urgency to move up in the world ranking if Korea wants to compete in the 2018 Olympics. From what I understand there is no automatic bid, and an improvement in the rankings is needed. This will be a challenge with or without me on the team!
NFK – Do you think you could be the ‘first of many’ naturalized players in Korean hockey or did you get the impression that this was a unique situation?
BR – If my situation ends up being successful, they may try for a couple more players, if they meet the requirements. I know they are putting an emphasis moving up in the rankings so a few new players would help that cause, but it will be easier to find, Canadian/Korean or American/Korean that play hockey in North America, than players like myself who have spent 5 years playing hockey in Korea.
NFK – What are your hopes for Hockey in Korea? Can it have a big (or just bigger) future? Koreans certainly seem talented enough on the ice in other sports.
BR – I think that Hockey should gain popularity with the approach of the Winter Olympics. In most other winter games, Hockey is normally the premier event and involves a lot of talented players from all over the world. This should help with the interest in the game. The players that I have played with in Korea, mostly all of them have exceptional skating ability. The quickness and speed of these players are at an elite level, so rounding out their game with some new systems could help them improve their ranking on the world stage.
Brock is a member of Korea’s Anyang Halla. You can find out more about the team at: https://www.facebook.com/HallaIcehockey