The 2022-2023 season of professional volleyball started with ‘Volleyball Empress’ Kim Yeon-kyung (35, Heungkuk Life Insurance) and ended with Kim Yeon-kyung. On June 21 last year, Heungkuk Life Insurance officially announced the recruitment of Kim Yeon-kyung. Kim Yeon-kyung, who left for the Chinese league after the 2020-2021 season, returned to Korea after digesting one season. Volleyball is a team sport, but the effect of joining Kim Yeon-kyung was great. Heungkuk Life Insurance, which ranked 6th last season and had no major changes in power this season, was evaluated as being in the lower ranks. However, only with the joining of Kim Yeon-kyung, Heungkuk Life Insurance emerged as a team that could reach 3rd place.
Heungkuk Life Insurance catches both performance and box office success
Kim Yeon-kyung captures both the team’s performance and box office success. From the beginning of the season to the middle, it was Hyundai E&C’s solo system, but the regular league championship was won by Heungkuk Life Insurance. Heungkuk Life Insurance became stronger even though the manager and general manager suffered an internal conflict during the season. In the championship match, the championship trophy was unfortunately given to Korea Expressway Corporation, but considering the gaze toward Heungkuk Life Insurance before the opening, it was a huge turnaround. Few expected that it would produce such results.
All of this was the ‘Kim Yeon-kyung effect’. Looking at Kim Yeon-kyung’s personal record, it can be seen that she holds the center of her team firmly in karate. She scored 669 points (5th overall), the most among domestic players in the regular league. Her attack success rate was 45.76%, ranking first. She wasn’t just attacking. She also entered the ‘Top 10’ in defense, ranking 8th in receiving efficiency (46.80%) and 10th in the dig (3.713 per set). Kim Yeon-kyung’s position is outside heater. Since he played more than two players, he enjoyed the effect of having more players in the league as a team.
Outside of the game, Kim Yeon-kyung had a great influence. When Heungkuk Life Insurance was shaken during the season, Kim Yeon-kyung held the center and led the team. He said, “It is difficult to understand the current situation,” and did not hesitate to speak bitterly toward his team.
Kim Yeon-kyung led the box office success of the V-League. Incheon Samsan World Gymnasium, the home stadium of Heungkuk Life Insurance, was crowded with fans every game. They mobilized 81,708 people in 18 home matches this season. The average attendance is 4539. There is a difference of more than 2,000 people from the average crowd of 2,500 for the women’s division. When Heungkuk Life Insurance played away games, the home teams benefited from Kim Yeon-kyung.
Wherever Kim Yeon-kyung appeared, it was always filled with fans. Placards containing affectionate messages for Kim Yeon-kyung were often seen in the audience. Incheon Samsan World Gymnasium was crowded with fans who wanted to see Kim Yeon-kyung even after a long time had passed after the game. Kim Yeon-kyung also had a lot of affection for the fans. While living in an overseas league, he communicated with fans through YouTube. Even after his return to Korea, he was generous with his fan service.
Kim Yeon-kyung finally won the regular league MVP at the V-League awards ceremony held after the season. Kim Yeon-kyung, who was selected as the sole candidate, was unanimously selected as the MVP out of 31 votes by the reporters. She is the second unanimous MVP in V-League history after Heungkuk Life Insurance Lee Jae-young in the 2018-2019 season and the first as a sole candidate. In a way, it was a natural result that Kim Yeon-kyung became the MVP.
On this day, Kim Yeon-kyung also received the attention of the volleyball world. He also hinted at the possibility of retiring during the season, and after the season he became a free agent (FA). Kim Yeon-kyung, who was contemplating the extension of his active life, revealed his desire to win the championship. Kim Yeon-kyung, who received the most attention among all professional volleyball free agents, eventually signed a contract with Heungkuk Life Insurance for a total of 775 million won (475 million won in annual salary and 300 million won in options) for a one-year contract period.
As Kim Yeon-kyung made the decision to stay faster than expected, the V-League FA market moved actively. Park Jung-ah left for Pepper Savings Bank, Kim Su-ji transferred to Heungkuk Life Insurance, and Hwang Min-kyung transferred to IBK Industrial Bank. It was the hottest off-season.
All of this happened during the one season Kim Yeon-kyung played. Kim Yeon-kyung was born with the temperament of a star from the time she started playing volleyball. Kim Yeon-kyung, who started his professional career by joining Heungkuk Life Insurance in 2005, won the Rookie of the Year, regular league, and championship MVP from the 2005-2006 season, the first season of his debut.
In four seasons, including the 2005-2006 season, he won the regular league championship three times. He also lifted the championship trophy three times. A unified victory was also achieved. To him like this, the domestic league was narrow. Kim Yeon-kyung entered the overseas league in 2009. She was the first female professional volleyball player in Korea to set foot overseas. She started playing in the Japanese league and then moved back and forth between China and Turkey.
Despite her long overseas activities, Kim Yeon-kyung shined Korean volleyball with her Taegeukgi on her international stage. While she was a junior, she wore her Taegeuk mark for the first time at the 2004 Asian Youth Women’s Championships. In 2005 she competed at the World Youth Women’s Championships. In 2005, when she was a third year student at Hanil Computer Girls’ High School in Suwon, she also debuted as a member of her adult national team by competing in the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Grand Champions Cup.
Since then , she
has participated in numerous international competitions, including three Olympics, four Asian Games, and three world championships, including the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, leading the revival of women’s volleyball in Korea. Kim Yeon-kyung, who decided to retire from the national team after the Tokyo Olympics, also expressed her heartbreak. Without her Kim Yeon-kyung, the women’s volleyball team struggled in international competitions afterwards. It was the moment when she felt his empty seat even bigger.
With the decision to extend the active life, we can see Kim Yeon-kyung jumping once again for Korean volleyball. He was recently appointed as an advisor (advisor) for the women’s volleyball team. After her retirement, she accepted the offer from her national team to pass on the know-how, mirroring her experience of having to look after her juniors who were struggling. Kim Yeon-kyung, who once again wore the Taegeuk mark as an ‘advisor’, will participate in the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) in May. To this end, on April 24th, along with the women’s volleyball players, they entered the national village in Jincheon, Chungcheongbuk-do. On May 22nd, the national team’s training camp in Turkiye will also be leaving. Kim Yeon-kyung said, “Since I came to Jincheon, I really felt the excitement and was happy to see the players. He expressed his determination, saying, “I am happy to be running with the Taegeuk mark after a long time,” and “I will help a lot by playing a role in helping with various things such as communication.”ㅋㅋㅋ벳
Another dream is growing in Kim Yeon-kyung’s heart. According to officials in the volleyball world, Kim Yeon-kyung has made up her mind to challenge for the position of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athlete Commissioner. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Ryu Seung-min, the current president of the Korea Table Tennis Association, who won the gold medal in men’s table tennis at the 2004 Athens Olympics, was elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission. Commissioner Yoo’s term ends at the ‘2024 Paris Olympics’.
The Korea Sports Council plans to select one domestic candidate to challenge for the IOC Athletes Commission in March next year. The candidate will run for the Athletes Commission election to be held during the Paris Olympics.