South Korea’s Jang Kun Lee is a rare commodity in the upcoming Pro Kabaddi League Season 5. The Busan-based raider is among the only four players to have represented the same team in all seasons of the league. Not surprisingly, Lee brought his experience of playing in India to the fore as he played a pivotal role in South Korea’s victory over the hosts on Day 1 of the kabaddi World Cup in Ahmedabad last year. In his formative years, kabaddi wasn’t the only sport Lee played. A self-confessed fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lee played soccer in college before switching allegiance to kabaddi. “I used to play soccer in the university, and the Korean kabaddi team practice too used to happen there. That’s where they spotted me and approached me asking if I could play kabaddi,” revealed Lee, who dons the Bengal Warriors jersey in the tournament. That’s not all. Lee also played judo locally and has been a national rower as well. However, once the 24-year-old decided to turn a professional kabaddi player, there was no looking back.
“Although Korea is not popular in kabaddi, but when I started playing the sport it always kept me happy. My family and friends were also happy to see me content with what I was doing, and supported me in everything I did,” said Lee. It didn’t take long for Lee to make a mark on the international level. His high point arrived in 2014 when he was part of South Korean side that won bronze at the Incheon Asian Games. Lee felt Indian coaches such as Jayvir Singh and Srinivas Reddy were instrumental in him being part of that competition. “Jayvir came to Korea in 2013, and he coached me for 6 months. In 2014, Srinivas Reddy taught me more of the sport,” Lee mentioned.
Lee felt there were in the kabaddi styles practiced in India and South Korea. “In India, there are more matches and tournaments. In Korea, there are no matches, only practices,” Lee explained.