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Update: Shin-Soo Choo is one win away from freedom

Nov 18, 2010, 11:36 AM EDT

Shin-Soo Choo

Well, maybe freedom is not the right word — it’s the army he’s trying to avoid here, not a jail sentence — but he is on the cusp of being able to take advantage of his full earning potential in Major League Baseball without a bunch of hassle: South Korea is in the Asian Games baseball final, where they’ll take on Taiwan tomorrow.

I’m kind of torn on who to root for here. On the one hand, sure, I’d like to see Choo play baseball in the U.S. without having to become a criminal at home or renounce his citizenship or whatever.  On the other hand, if every able-bodied Korean has to serve in the army, I’m not sure how it’s fair that Choo gets out of it simply for being good at baseball.  Not that anything I think about how South Korea sets up its military rules matters.

  1. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    How is this not the biggest baseball news around right now? This should be a nationally televised game in the U.S. dubbed “Choo v. South Korea v. Asia” or something like that. So, how the hell did a deal get made that if he helps win his team gold in the Asian Games that he gets to skip the military in the first place?

    • chipmaker023 - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:16 PM

      The SK government has done it before, starting with Park in 1998. This “win gold, get waived from military commitment” thing has happened before.

    • fivetoolmike - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:24 PM

      Currently it’s any Olympic medalists or gold medalists in the Asian Games. They made an exception for the 2002 World Cup team.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:10 PM

      SK wants their athletic ambassadors alive, that’s probably why.

  2. thehollar - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    My fantasy team thinks it’s perfectly fair. If those other South Koreans are as important as Choo, why didn’t I draft them?

    • The Baseball Idiot - Nov 18, 2010 at 3:12 PM

      Yep, baseball players are much more important that the soliders who keep the 4th largest army in the world from coming over the border with no notice and enslaving their country. You know, because insane, despotic leaders of communist countires don’t do that anymore.

      If baseball is such a special thing that players get exemptions, then why not artists, musicians, scientists, and medical students? Seems to me that those people serve a purpose at least as important as playing a game that doesn’t defend your country.

  3. Jonny 5 - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    Yeah, although I’m sure he’s quite popular within baseball circles, I just don’t see this as positive PR back at home. Bringing a championship home should help immensely though. As a US citizen it seems like a great thing, but to the Koreans it may be akin to espionage. I thought beating wives as long as you don’t make them ugly was wrong, but in some countries that’s preferred, so you never know….

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:19 PM

      What if you beat said wife into a higher level of hotness? Are there foreign laws regarding this issue?

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:27 PM

        Hmm? I’d assume by the laws regarding beating your wife of some countries, you might get a tax break if you actually improve their looks…

  4. fivetoolmike - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    What kind of backwards country is South Korea? Choo can’t even claim he’s gay to get out of serving anymore! http://jurist.org/paperchase/2010/10/south-korea-rights-commission-finds-military-gay-ban-unconstitutional.php

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