Handball king talks study, career and friends

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Handball king talks study, career and friends


Yoon Kyung-shin

Yoon Kyung-shin stood out like a sore thumb on the crowded campus of Kyung Hee University in Suwon, south of Seoul.

The two-meter (6-foot-8) star handball player was at least two heads taller than everybody else around him.

Some students passing by recognized and greeted him with a Korean-style, chest-deep bow with their eyes fixated on him. Yoon just calls them fellow students.

“I started a doctoral course here this year,” said Yoon, 37. “Today is the first day of the first semester and I am more nervous now than I would be on the handball court.”

Yoon is the most famous handball athlete the country has ever produced and many Koreans know who he is despite his sport’s relative lack of popularity.

Last month, Doosan, which Yoon plays for, won its third straight Handball Korea Cup. And Yoon was Doosan’s star - he scored a league-leading 33 goals during the season to win the scoring title for the third straight year.

Before joining Doosan in 2009, Yoon played in the German professional handball league for 12 years and is still the all-time leading Bundesliga scorer with 2,908 goals. While most fans think Yoon still has plenty of energy left to play handball, the player himself is preparing for life after handball by going back to class.

Q. You have devoted yourself to sports, so might it not be hard to pick up the book again?

A. It was so difficult to figure things out in the beginning because I lacked basic knowledge. I didn’t even know how to use PowerPoint even though I have to give a lecture this year. I have learned it now, but still am struggling with it.

People call you the Michael Jordan of handball. Did you ever consider trying other sports like Jordan did with baseball and golf?

I golfed as a hobby, but it doesn’t suit me well. Every time I try other sports, I become convinced that choosing to play handball was the best decision I ever made. I’m also not very good at winter sports like skiing or snowboarding. I once thought I had talent for every sport, but that’s not the case.

You have made a lot of money over your career, but is money important to you?

I earned more than 5 billion won ($4.5 million) in my 13 years in Germany. My annual salary in Germany started at 120 million won and it went up to between 300 and 400 million won later on. Considering performance-based bonuses and money earned from appearing in advertisements, it was good money. My annual salary was cut by a fourth when I returned to Korea. I am currently reading a book called “Money,” but it is not because I want to make more money. I want to learn how to spend my money well. My wife is running a business in Guangzhou, China. I will help her business after retirement.

You are a five-time participant in the Olympics for the Korean national team. Are there any other Korean athletes you have befriended while participating in such international sports events?

I am close with Lee Yong-dae (gold medalist in badminton at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games), Lee Kyou-hyuk (World Cup gold medalist in speed skating) and Lee Woon-jae (former national football team goalkeeper). Lee Kyou-hyuk is amazing. He failed to medal at the Olympics several times but refused to be discouraged and has since been on top of his game. It’s something I want to emulate.

Lee Woon-jae and I enrolled at Kyung Hee University in 1992. We were not close as undergraduates because Woon-jae attended the Seoul campus and I went to the Suwon campus but we got close during graduate school. Woon-jae did not enroll in a doctoral program because he decided to play for the Chunnam Dragons (in the K-League) and needed time to adjust to the change. Yong-dae is a nice guy. Some Olympic gold medalists get distracted after winning medals but that isn’t the case with him. We were both injured during the Guangzhou Asian Games and became friends while participating in rehabilitation programs.

By On Nu-ri [joe@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article[일간스포츠]

핸드볼 ‘레전드’ 윤경신, 인생 2막을 준비중…박사과정 시작

일 경희대학교 수원캠퍼스 체육대학원 2층. 윤경신의 모습은 한 눈에 띄었다. 다른 사람들보다 머리 두 개쯤 더 크기 때문이다. 지나가는 학생들이 그를 향해 꾸벅 인사를 했다. 눈에 존경의 눈빛이 가득 담겨 있었다.
윤경신은 "올해 박사과정을 시작했다. 오늘 새학기 시작이다. 떨린다"고 했다. 핸드볼 선수로 아직 승승장구하고 있지만, 그는 벌써 인생 2막을 준비중이다.
공부만 하다가 공부를 하니 힘든 점은 없나.
"운동 선수라서 기초가 너무 없어 힘들었다. 올해부터는 강의도 하게 됐는데, 파워포인트 작성법 같은 것들을 알지 못했다. 지금이야 다 배웠지만, 기본 상식이 모자라 힘든 부분이 있다."

-'핸드볼 코트의 마이클 조던'이라는 별명도 있는데, 은퇴 후 조던처럼 골프 등 다른 스포츠에 도전할 생각은 없나..
"골프는 취미로 쳐 봤는데, 적성에 안 맞는다. 다른 스포츠를 접할 때마다 핸드볼 하길 잘했다는 생각이 든다. 동계스포츠 중 스키나 스노보드는 거의 몸치 수준이다. 운동신경이 있다고 생각했는데, 아니더라."

-돈은 워낙 많이 벌어 돈 욕심은 없을 것 같다.
"독일에서 뛴 13년간 수입을 합치면 50억 이상이다. 초봉은 1억 2000만원 가량 됐고, 연봉이 이후에도 꾸준히 3~4억 수준이었다. 여기에 광고·수당 등이 있었으니 수입은 남부럽지 않았다. 한국에 오면서 연봉은 1/4가량 깎였다. 요즘 '돈'이라는 책을 읽고 있는데, 돈을 벌기 위해서라기보다는 잘 쓰기 위해 읽고 있다. 아내가 광저우에서 사업을 한다. 은퇴 후 도울 예정이다."

-올림픽만 5번 뛰었다. 친한 선수들도 많을 것 같다.
"이용대(배드민턴)·이규혁(스피드스케이팅)·이운재(축구) 등과 친하다. 이규혁은 참 대단하다. 올림픽에서 여러번 메달 획득에 실패했지만, 그럼에도 불구하고 세계 최고 기량을 계속 뽐낸다. 본받을 점이다. 이운재는 경희대 92학번 동창이다. 운재는 서울에서, 나는 수원에서 학교를 다녀 대학 때는 친하지 않았다. 석사 과정을 같이 밟으며 친해졌는데, 운재가 박사 과정에는 안들어왔다. 전남 드래곤즈로 이적했기 때문이다. 적응하면 술 한잔 해야겠다. 운재가 서울 원정 오면 응원해야겠다. 용대는 인성이 좋다. 생긴 것과 달리 순진하다. 올림픽 금메달을 따면 보통 나쁜 물이 들기도 하는데, 전혀 그렇지 않다. 광저우 아시안게임 전 내가 어깨를 다쳤을 때, 용대는 팔꿈치 수술을 해서 함께 재활하며 친해졌다."

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