[NOTEBOOK]Hey, you morons, get out quick!

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[NOTEBOOK]Hey, you morons, get out quick!

Kim Young-joo has been named as a referee for the upcoming 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan. He will have the honor of becoming the first Korean referee to step on the stage of the biggest soccer event on earth. His judgment, knowledge of the game and language ability earned him the spot, the official stamp by FIFA that he is a proven person in his profession.

So you might be surprised to learn that he is not officiating in Korea at all. Yes, that's correct, not a single game is under his watchful eye here.

In 1996, he received a two-game suspension as a penalty for "creating a fuss." He awarded a penalty kick and the opposing team protested. At the time Mr. Kim said, "Look at the videotape. If I am wrong you can have my uniform." He quit, not because there was any wrongdoing on his part but because he was soured and disappointed at the suspension decision. After that, his talents were only available for matches in other countries.

Lim Eun-joo is the first female soccer referee in Korea. She is acknowledged in the international soccer community and to some extent in Korea. Although she was known here, her status was not so high in Korea as to think of her as someone who represents the Korean soccer community. The international community seemed to have a different view, as FIFA chose her to draw the lots for the World Cup finals round-robin groupings.

Chan Ho Park was certainly branded as a talented pitcher in his high school and college days, but was never given credit as a top pitcher. In fact, he was ranked only third among Hanyang University hurlers because of his lack of control. When the Los Angeles Dodgers came for him, giving him a 1 million-dollar contract, nobody seemed to understand. "We can teach the techniques but not the speed," the Dodgers gave as their reason for signing him. They knew they could refine his skills and raise him to a new level. While in Korea teams were looking for someone they could use instantly, the Dodgers chose the long way, the right way, of investing and it certainly paid off for them.

Another case of an investment that was based on potential was the soccer player Cha Du-ri. He was never selected to the Korean national team or the Olympic team ?not even a national collegiate team. A virtual nobody ?but Gus Hiddinck chose him and the once "Cha who?" kid has been playing for Korea ever since. The reason for his selection was again potential. He had the speed and stamina. Hiddinck knew that he only needed to teach the kid the technical side of the game.

I wonder why there is such a difference in so-called standards. For a long time we have been on a crusade to internationalize, but it seems that we are still far away from achieving it.

The reason why we still do not stand on par with international standards is because of our factionalism and impatience.

A good example is the selection of the head of the Prosecutor's Office. Although logic pointed to a certain person, another one was selected. In basketball, a coach who had settled for someone from the school he attended despite the availability of a better player is agonizing over his decision.

Rather than look at the potential of a person, Koreans tend to select someone who can be used immediately. Old habits die hard, and our impatience for instant results often blocks us from seeing the benefits of taking a longer view.

I frequently see news of some high school students who were not doing so well in Korea but are suddenly honor students in the United States. I am starting to wonder: If we brand someone or something as "second class," is that some kind of formula for sure success elsewhere? If that is indeed the case, I just want to scream, "Morons, leave home as soon as possible! A greater life lies ahead out there for you!"

We do not have the eye to spot the talented and gifted, and that is sad. But what is even more depressing is the fact that some people love to trample on these unpolished diamonds. I don't know what to think of persons who take pleasure in disparaging and discouraging others.

To ask people to deveolop the patience to groom someone for success is probably too unrealistic, so I am asking only one thing: "Please do not extinguish our potential bright lights."


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The writer is a deputy sports news editor of the Joongang Ilbo.

by Sohn Jang-hwan

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