“I am the happiest right now”

Coach Lee Man-soo, the “Hulk,” was the first home run hitter in Korean professional baseball and the first Korean coach to win a Major League championship ring. In 2014, after stepping down from SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) manager, he suddenly left for Laos for the ‘baseball mission’ he always dreamed of as his manager.안전놀이터

2023, about 10 years from then. He is still working hard to spread baseball in Southeast Asia with a consistent look. In the process, the Laos Baseball Association was founded and the local national team participated in the Asian Games, and many miraculous things occurred, such as the construction of the first baseball field in the country. And now, the first baseball tournament in Southeast Asia has been held.

The following is an interview with Hulk Foundation director Lee Man-soo (Chairman) on February 18th.

– hello. How have you been?
“Yes, hello. I am still working for the same baseball missionary dream while traveling to and from Korea and Southeast Asian countries, especially Vietnam. Externally, I recently went on a pilgrimage to Israel and had an unforgettable experience.”

– I heard that you are holding a competition in Laos. Can I ask a specific question?
“On the coming 24th, the ‘1st Southeast Asia Baseball Championship (DGB Cup)’ will be held in Laos. Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia will participate, and we hope that baseball will become more popular in Southeast Asia through this tournament in the future. ” 

– You have been active in Southeast Asia for a long time,
“Actually, I still don’t realize that a baseball tournament is being held in Southeast Asia. If I think of 2014 when I first set foot in Laos, it is truly miraculous. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all those who have been with me until these miracles happened. I

believe that I have come to where I am today because I never gave up on the common goal of ‘someday that dream will come true’. . There is still a long way to go, but with the spirit of never giving up, I want to achieve bigger goals one by one.”

– It has already been 10 years since you started working in Laos and Vietnam. Don’t you sometimes miss activities in Korea?
“It would be a lie if I said I didn’t miss the days when I was active on the Korean professional stage. But if you ask me if I was happier in those days than I am now, I would answer no. That time is very precious to me, but I am happier than ever because I can deliver baseball and hope to many people at the same time here. In Laos, some players started playing

baseball because they needed a glass of cool water. I think there is nothing more rewarding than being able to give people hope through baseball.”

– It is true that you received a lot of questionable attention in Korea while working in Laos. There is still such public opinion, what do you think?
“When I first left for Laos, they called me ‘fool’ in Korea. Still, I was a manager who directed a professional team, but to think that I was going to spread baseball to a foreign country, where the sport of baseball was not known at all. Maybe it was a natural reaction, I don’t know.

Ever since I was active as a player, I always thought that someday I must return the love I received through baseball to baseball. And thanks to my family who supported my dream, I was able to leave for Laos. ‘Never ever give up’ is my motto. I always thought of this one sentence and ran hard without giving up my will, and it seems that I have come to this place without knowing it. I consider myself a ‘pioneer’. And I am very proud of this title. A lot of people don’t call me ‘fool’ anymore. I think that probably means that I am on the right path (laughs).”

– I know that you are doing activities while spending your own money. Is there a special reason? 
“As I said, I did not come all the way here on my own. . Many people’s helping hands and earnest prayers were together. Looking back at the first time Laos players started playing baseball on the dirt floor without even proper sneakers, so many things have changed now. I have always been proud of myself and I have never regretted nor will I ever regret spending my own money.”

– I’d also like to hear about your future plans.
“First of all, it is my immediate hope that the tournament in Laos will be successfully completed. After that, my goal is to work together so that the sport of baseball can be well established in Vietnam following Laos. In addition, five countries in Indochina (Laos, Vietnam) , Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia) as my ultimate goal, and even if I don’t fully achieve this goal, I will do my best until I can.”

– Lastly, please say something to your domestic fans.
“I sincerely thank everyone who always supports and is with me. I have never abandoned the thought that I have to return the love I received through baseball to baseball. Although I am mainly active in spreading baseball to other places other than Korea, When I look at young people who find their dreams through baseball and change their lives, I feel very rewarded for this work. If you join me in any way, it will be a great help to me. I am always grateful.”     

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