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March 13, 2006

Hee-Seop Choi

In-Sik Kim


THE MODERATOR: We'll take our first question.
Q. Hee Seop Choi, how does hitting a homerun for your country in this tournament compare to hitting three homeruns for the Dodgers last season against Minnesota?
HEE SEOP CHOI: Well, I think my feeling is different. At that time, I was running for the team when I had three homeruns, but this time it's different. It's a lot more meaningful because I run for my home country and we were able to win over the USA, which is the best team in the world.
Q. My question is for Mr. Kim. What kind of strategy did you have for today's game? And once Korea advances to semi-final and again compete with USA, what kind of strategy would you have at that time?
MANAGER IN SIK KIM: Well, something happened today which nobody could believe. But not just it's the USA Team, but it's the best of all the best Major League players, and our players won over these players and it's very difficult to believe what happened.
But this is the baseball. You never know what might happen even. There's some differences in terms of each player's capabilities, but you never know what might happen. If we fight with USA again, I don't know what the result might be, but I can say that we'll do our very best.
And my strategy would be -- well, it's how to handle the pitchers. I think the baseball is the fight of pitchers, so I think that handling the pitchers would be the most important factor in the game. But I can ensure you that we'll do our best.
Q. I'd like to ask the following two questions to Mr. Kim. Could you please briefly elaborate on your pitcher rotation? You had four difference pitchers. If you can talk about your strategy on this pitch rotation? Second one is did you actually expect -- or did you anticipate that Min Han Son would not -- would have lead this game? And did you already have the plan after Min Han Son?
MANAGER IN SIK KIM: Well, did I think whether he could take us to a leading position? No, I did not think that. My plan was to have Min Han Son pitch to the limit, but my adjustment was that when we were leading then at that point I said, maybe then we can rotate the pitchers and that was -- became feasible.
But we were up to lead quite a bit, so that's why I decided to have that pitcher rotation. From the beginning, you cannot anticipate how it will be. You kind of adjust your strategy as the time goes. Our strategy was to give as little point as possible to the USA team, but that didn't happen. I mean it happened the other way.
Q. I'd like to ask Mr. Kim again and what kind of strategies did you have against Japan and USA? And do you have a very distinctive strategy for each team? And at today's game, at what point did you have a confidence you were going to win over USA?
MANAGER IN SIK KIM: Well, we had three points first, and then we also had have an opportunity to have another point. That didn't happen, but when I saw Hee Seop Choi making a three-run homerun, that's when I had confidence that we were going to beat the USA team.
Q. Mr. Choi, have you ever had a bigger homerun? And also, were you surprised that ball stayed fair -- I asked him, have you ever hit a bigger homerun in your life? And also were you surprised that ball stayed fair, because it wasn't fair all the way down the line.
HEE SEOP CHOI: Well, I thought that might be a foul ball, and I thought that after them I catch my ball. But when I heard all the screaming from the audience, that's when I realized that I hit a homerun.
Q. Congratulations, Mr. Kim. You have already opened door for the semi-final. And the second question, how do you want to manage the third game with Japan? Is there any difference in the two runs at the last two innings? I think what he wants to say is is there a problem with having those runs scored against you in the 9th inning? Will that affect the tournament for you in terms of tie breakers?
MANAGER IN SIK KIM: Well, my answer is we do our very best until it ends, and any country do the same. And I wasn't really concerned. I mean, I was -- this is a tournament. I mean, it's a league, but it's run like tournament, and each of the last three hitters in the 9th inning, I believe they hit all homeruns.
It was seven to six, so I was not really apprehensive about that.
Q. My question on behalf of ESPN, is if the Korean baseball has a philosophy, what type of philosophy it has? And also personally, for Manager Kim, do you have any personal philosophy? And Americans feel that it's quite unique, so would you please share that with us.
MANAGER IN SIK KIM: Well, Korean baseball philosophy? I mean, the question seems quite broad.
Well, the question seems quite broad, but as far as I know, well I think Korean baseball still has a lot to learn from other countries such as USA, Japan.
And because they have a lot longer tradition of baseball, we have a lot to learn from these countries. I think a lot of young coaches are going to Japan and USA to learn, regardless whether we win or lose the game.
I'm just telling you our current situation, current address. And my personal philosophy, well, just like anyone else: Just do your best. Do your very best, and personally I think that when I play against a weak team, I have to be kind of alert. And when I play with a strong team then I'll relax. That's how I feel.
Q. This question is for Mr. Choi. You didn't start tonight. You've struggled through the WBC hitting 214 coming into tonight. Talk about not starting and maybe how your struggle maybe motivated you to come in and hit the homerun. Well, if it motivated you at all, did you feel more motivated when you came in and had your three run homer? Thank you.
HEE SEOP CHOI: Well, I know that my condition was not in excellent shape, but I was able to hit the homerun in a very dramatic moment. But we are very happy. We're ecstatic that we won the strongest team. And not just myself, but all of our team members are very motivated and very challenged now.
And so we feel that we don't have any teams that we should be afraid of, and so our atmosphere is very positive, very good. And so in my case, I think I had Major League experience, so that's why I was apt to have such a good game against pitcher Willis.
THE MODERATOR: Last question.
Q. This is for Mr. Kim. Since the Korean professional players would be in spring training back in Korea at this time, how does, let's say the arm strength of the pitchers, or the timing of the hitter, or the general physical conditioning of the players on your team compare to what they normally would be like in spring training in Korea?
MANAGER IN SIK KIM: Well, in Korea starting, January, what you call spring training, for spring training we would go overseas. In Korea, January and February tend to be very cold. So in Japan's case, their training camp would be located in Kyushu, which is a southern part of Japan. And Okinawa they have camps there, training camps. And in Korea we would also go to Kyushu, the center part of Japan, or Florida or Hawaii in January and February time period.
And this time, our team also went to the camp and we gathered on February 19th. And for the pitchers, they don't really have game more than three times, and also same for the hitter, batters, they don't really have practice for the fast balls or breaking balls. So I was concerned.
I was uphanded and we couldn't really fight well against Korean Lotte team. The batters could not keep up with that. But we were gradually getting better from Tokyo, and now we have fully recovered.

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