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Park Byung-ho prepares to rejoin Nexen Twins in KBO

Park Byung-ho, who was released from the Minnesota Twins last year to join the Nexen Heroes in the KBO, is scheduled to return to Korea next Tuesday, his team said in a statement Wednesday.

The Nexen Heroes plan to hold a news conference upon his arrival and conduct a ceremony welcoming him to the team at the Grand Hyatt Incheon. Park will wear No. 52, the same number he wore for the Twins and the Heroes.

Park debuted in the KBO in 2012 with the Nexen Heroes. From 2012 to 2015, he won the home run title and RBI title, and became the first player in the KBO to hit 50 home runs for two consecutive seasons in 2014 and 2015.

When Park left for the MLB in 2015, he had a career batting average of 0.281 with 210 home runs, 604 RBIs and 535 runs.

Park played for the Minnesota Twins for two seasons. Although his contract was supposed to last until 2019, he chose to return to the Heroes with a 1.5 billion won ($1.4 million) deal in November.

The 31-year-old slugger will have to play four seasons with the Heroes to earn free agent status.

By Kang Yoo-rim


Men’s team set to train for World Cup in Turkey

The Korean men’s team will set up their winter training camp in Turkey later this month to prepare for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Korea Football Association said Wednesday.

The team will train in the resort city of Antalya from Jan. 22 to Feb. 4.

“We originally considered .?.?. Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates as our winter training destination but had to change it since we couldn’t find friendly match opponents there,” a football official said. “We plan to have at least three friendly matches during our overseas training, and we thought it would be easier to find opponents in Antalya.”

FIFA hasn’t designated any international match day period in January, meaning foreign clubs are not obligated to release their players even if Korea plays a friendly match.

With such restrictions, Coach Shin Tae-yong will not be able to call up Europe-based star players like Son Heung-min and Ki Sung-yueng, as their respective clubs will be still in the middle of the season.

Instead, Shin will assemble players from the domestic K League and other Asian leagues, as he did for the East Asian Football Federation’s E-1 Football Championship in Japan last month.

K League clubs flock to Thailand for preseason

Thailand is the most popular winter training destination for Korean pro football clubs this year, according to data released by the K League on Wednesday.

Half of the first-division K League Classic clubs will begin their winter training in Thailand this month to prepare for the new season, which kicks off on March 1.

Jeju United, the 2017 season runners-up, and Incheon United will set up their training camps in Chiang Mai, while the Pohang Steelers and newly promoted club Gyeongnam FC will stay in Bangkok.

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