Batting in support

January 6, 2014

Choo named goodwill ambassador for PyeongChang Games

Texas Rangers’ Choo Shin-soo, right, and Kim Jin-sun, president of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic organizing committee, pose with a commemorative plate after Choo was named a goodwill ambassador for the event at the Korea Press Center in Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap)

Texas Rangers’ Choo Shin-soo, right, and Kim Jin-sun, president of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic organizing committee, pose with a commemorative plate after Choo was named a goodwill ambassador for the event at the Korea Press Center in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

By Jung Min-ho

PyeongChang2018

High-profile Koreans have been asked to do their part in promoting the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. The latest to join the star-studded group of goodwill ambassadors is Choo Shin-soo, the $130 million man of the Texas Rangers.

”When I go back to the United States, I will start the job of promoting the 2018 Olympics to the people around me, including my Rangers teammates,’’ the 31-year-old outfielder told reporters at the Korea Press Center in Seoul Monday, after PyeongChang’s organizing committee announced his new role.

The list of advocates is highlighted by the classical music group, Sejong Soloists, former World Federation of Overseas Korean Traders Association Chairman Kwon Byeong-ha, novelist Lee Oi-soo and ballerina Kang Sue-jin. Interestingly, the PyeongChang organizing committee didn’t name athletes as goodwill ambassadors before Choo, although figure-skating megastar Kim Yu-na promoted last year’s PyeongChang Special Olympics for athletes with learning disabilities.

Choo believes the Olympic Games will help create a more positive and dynamic image of Korea. He explained that his national pride has always been a large part of his drive for success in Major League Baseball (MLB).

”I have played in America since I was young. I found that people knew little about Korea, and many assumed that Asian players are Japanese,” Choo said. “People hardly said good things about Korea.’’

Kim Jin-sun, president of the PyeongChang Olympic organizing committee, appreciated Choo’s commitment, saying “Choo’s story of success is similar to that of PyeongChang, as both came true after overcoming some major hardships.”

Choo’s recent $130-million deal with the Rangers has generated lots of anticipation about his performance this year, especially after his most successful year in the MLB with the Cincinnati Reds last year. He was ranked second in the National League in on-base percentage (.423), walks (112) and runs scored (107). He also had his third career “20-20” season with 21 homers and 20 stolen bases.

When asked about his goals, he said it would be trying to play as many games as possible.

“My goal is to stay healthy enough to play 150 to 155 games this season,” he said. “If I can do that, I am confident good records will follow.”

Choo has engaged in some charitable activities. He believes giving equal opportunities to children is important not only for them but also for Korean baseball.

“I will retire someday,” Choo said. “But some of the children will play in the MLB.”

“I’d like to build stadiums for them and teach them what I’ve learned both from Korea and the United States. I want to make an environment where they can play baseball regardless of their background.”

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