Seo Seung Jae team contract controversy casts pall over 2020 debut

Korean doubles star Seo Seung Jae is in an ominous predicament at home, with his contract decisions regarding which pro team to join actually putting his spot on the national […]

Korean doubles star is in an ominous predicament at home, with his contract decisions regarding which pro team to join actually putting his spot on the team in jeopardy.

Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported yesterday that Hong Kong Open winner Seo Seung Jae could be facing worrying discplinary prospects if a dispute over his professional team contract direction is not resolved amicably by the end of January.  Yonhap reported last month that the (BKA) had confirmed that Seo had made a provisional contract with Incheon International Airport badminton team but then two days later, signed a contract with Samsung Electromechanics.

Seo is graduating this winter from Wonkwang University and he is by far the most sought-after free agent in Korea.  According to an article yesterday in the Chosun Ilbo, it had been widely rumoured since last summer that Incheon, whose head coach Ahn Jae Chang is also Head Coach of the Korean national team, had been courting Seo Seung Jae to join.  Hence, the news that he had provisionally signed with them was expected, while the follow-up story of his making a final contract with Samsung came as a shock to the badminton community.  The report goes on to say that documentation submitted  by Samsung, as well as a statement by Seo Seung Jae, suggested that the provisional contract with Incheon was made against the player’s intention, but does not give details on how that could be accomplished.

Yonhap said that the BKA’s Performance Development Committee met on December 31st to discuss the issue and that they had decided to postpone making any ruling until January 31st, giving Incheon, Samsung, and Seo Seung Jae one month to arrive at a mutually acceptable conclusion.

The Yonhap article quotes an unnamed BKA official as saying that there are rules against disrupting the order of pro team contract conventions that can result in a player being excluded from national team training.  Indeed, the article cites the case of singles player Bae Yeon Ju, who spent her most of her first year after high school off the national team after being disciplined in a similar case.

However, were the BKA to decide to suspend Seo Seung Jae this year, it could have very serious collateral damage.  While 2009 was not an Olympic year and Bae Yeon Ju was still a budding talent at the time, Seo Seung Jae is currently ranked 9th in the world in men’s doubles with Choi Sol Gyu and 7th in mixed doubles with Chae Yoo Jung, the only Korean pairs in the top 20 and top 40 of those respective categories.  Not only could a suspension dash the Olympic qualification hopes of both of Seo’s partners but should either pair fail to qualify, it is highly likely that Korea would end up with no representation in Tokyo in that .

Seo Seung Jae and his partners are slated to fly to Kuala Lumpur this weekend for next week’s Malaysia Masters, followed by the Indonesia Masters and the Thailand Masters, as Korea’s national team players begin their competitive year for 2020.

Photo: Badmintonphoto

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @