Moon Dong-joo, the AG Baseball MVP, expressed sincerity in stating that his brother Kwak Bin’s support was crucial for his gold medal win.
The MVP of the gold medal-winning Korean baseball team at the Hangzhou Asian Games was undoubtedly pitcher Moon Dong-ju (20, Hankwa). Starting the final game against Chinese Taipei on July 7, Moon pitched a dominant six innings of three-hit ball, striking out seven and walking none to lead South Korea to a 2-0 victory.
With Moon’s performance, Korea won its fourth consecutive gold medal and sixth overall, including the 1998 Bangkok and 2002 Busan Games, after winning in Guangzhou in 2010, Incheon in 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang in 2018.
It was a young squad, comprised of players aged 25 or younger and in their fourth year of professional play, with 19 of the 24 players receiving military service. Moon Dong-ju, who took the mound under immense pressure, saved Korean baseball’s pride and changed the careers of his teammates. Before the game, the players decided to choose their own MVP, and after the game, they unanimously chose Moon. The players unitedly collected the prize money and gave it to Moon.
After taking a break from Daejeon after returning home on the 8th, Moon returned to Hanwha Life Eagle Spark on the 15th to play against Lotte. 먹튀검증 He thanked head coach Choi Won-ho, the coaching staff, and the players, and was welcomed with fellow gold medalist Noh Si-hwan. With the gold medal around his neck, he was greeted by the players and fans.
Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho, a baseball gold medalist at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, said, “Keep the gold medal. Keep it and play for the next national team,” Choi said. Choi said, “I think that final game will leave a lasting impression on Dong-ju’s development. When he plays big games in the future, such as the postseason, he will remember the Asian Games experience fondly.”
Moon said, “I’ve been getting so many congratulations after the tournament. I’m having a good day. Because the Asian Games is such a big event, I received more attention than ever before, and I was constantly contacted by acquaintances. I don’t reply to the same thing, so I don’t think I’ve been able to respond to every single message. If there’s anyone out there who feels bad, I just want to say that I’m really sorry. I’m overwhelmed by all the congratulations.”
The tournament was highly publicized. He pitched four innings of three-hit ball, one walk, three strikeouts, and two runs against Taiwan in the group stage, but took the loss, and faced them again in the final after a four-day break, so the pressure must have been high. Pitchers are at a disadvantage against batters the more often they meet, but in the final, Moon changed all the rules of baseball. With a powerful fastball that reached the 160-kilometer range and a changeup that he rarely threw in the KBO, he made the Taiwanese hitters swing for the fences.
“I wasn’t too nervous because it was the final,” Moon said. I pitched well against Chinese Taipei in the group stage, but my command was lacking, so I worked on that and it paid off. I was also worried that I would get used to the ball in the eyes of the batters as I faced Taiwan again, but I was able to throw with a relaxed mindset because I had already met them once.”
“The atmosphere in the team was really good,” Moon continued, “and since there were many players of the same age, we were able to bond and enjoy each other even more. Especially in the final, I will never forget the atmosphere. It was the first time (for me personally) that I played in a game and won.
Moon also had special thanks for his roommate, senior pitcher Kwak Bin (24-Dusan). Kwak Binh suffered from a bilious condition on his right wing bone during his preparation for the first game against Hong Kong. He was also suffering from a high fever and had to undergo various treatments including ringers, injections, acupuncture and painkillers. She recovered from the Super Round against China and was in the bullpen, but didn’t get a chance to pitch until the final.
This led to controversy over his ‘free ride to the gold medal’. After the game against KIA in Jamsil on the 13th, Kwak said, “In the final, I loosened my arm from the second inning, but fortunately, (Moon) Dong-ju pitched well,” adding, “Every time I see my teammates, I feel sorry for them. I felt uncomfortable because I couldn’t help the team due to my injury, but everyone said it was okay and gave me encouragement.”
Although Kwak Bin didn’t throw a single ball for the national team, his ‘roommate’ Moon Dong Joo helped him play in the best possible condition. “Bean got along really well with my brother, so we were comfortable living in the same room,” says Moon. He took care of me so well in every way. He kept saying ‘I’m sorry,’ which I appreciated. I don’t think I would have done as well as I did without him. We shared a room together and talked a lot about baseball, and I learned a lot from him. Binyi is a really nice guy. He was very considerate throughout the tournament and helped me focus on my game in many ways. I am still grateful to him for his support and encouragement, even though it must have been very difficult.”
Moon also drew attention when he held Kang Baek-ho’s (KT) hand during a joint interview after winning the gold medal. Kang Baek-ho, who suffered from panic disorder this year as he was plagued by controversies both big and small in baseball, became emotional during the interview, and Moon Dong-ju stood beside him, holding his hand tightly and giving him strength. Through the club’s broadcast, Kang Baek Ho said, “My hands and body were shaking during the interview. Dong-joo gave me a thumbs up, so I held on to it. I said thank you. It was very helpful. After all, Ace has big hands,” and expressed his gratitude.
In response, Moon Dong Joo said, “Baek Ho was doing the interview next to me and I could see that he was struggling a little bit. I thought it would be okay if I held his hand, so I did. Baekho thanked me and I thanked him even more. I’m glad I was able to be with him this time. I really want to say thank you to Baekho,” he said, showing his affectionate feelings.
The Asian Games marked the birth of the Korean National Baseball Team’s 10-year ace. “In my first adult international tournament, with the help of many people, I was able to have good memories and confidence. It’s really unforgettable. I am so grateful. I think I will be able to play with more confidence in future international tournaments. I don’t have to be nervous, and I don’t have to be overconfident. I want to continue to work harder and raise my goals little by little. I’m also grateful to the fans for their support. I will prepare well and come back even better next year.”