Meet Dongwon University Coach Kim Moon-ho from ‘Great hitter’ to ‘Great Coach’!

When we met for our interview, Coach Kim was in such great shape that he could have been an active player. One look at him and it’s clear that he’s serious about coaching the Dongwon Expectations and playing for the Monsters. We chose Moon-ho Kim to be our first guest for the second season of Busan Baseball Diary because he’s one of the hottest baseball people around, and he has a lot to say about the Lotte Giants, the rookie draft, and the strongest baseball team. The following is an interview with Coach Kim Moon-ho.메이저놀이터

[Busan Baseball Report]

Was there a particular moment that inspired you to start playing baseball?

[Coach Kim Moon-ho]

My hometown is Jeju Island, and at that time, the elementary school I was attending had a baseball team. When I was in the third grade, my homeroom teacher looked at me and said, “I think he should play baseball.” I was a little bit taller then, so my homeroom teacher encouraged me to play baseball, and I wanted to play sports at that time. I told my parents right away, and they were really against it at first, because I have two older sisters and I’m the youngest, so I guess they didn’t think I’d be an athlete. I kept bugging them, and then I was lucky enough to get their permission. (Laughs) Initially, it was agreed that I would only play until elementary school.

Coach Kim Moon-ho was one of the biggest stars in the country when he was an amateur at Deoksujung High School (now Deoksugo High School). In the center of Duksugo’s batting lineup for the national championships, Kim Moon-ho was always a steady presence in the center, and he was a hitter who lived up to the team’s expectations every time he stepped up to the plate. As an amateur, he was no stranger to being called a “genius hitter,” and that’s how he was drafted by the Lotte Giants. But for Kim, who was born in Jeju Island and spent his school years in Seoul, Busan must have been an unfamiliar city. We asked Kim how he felt when he was drafted.

[Busan Baseball Report]

I understand that you had no connection to Busan before joining the Lotte Giants. How did you feel when you were drafted by the Lotte Giants?

[Coach Kim Moon-ho]

Honestly, I was confused at first because I went to middle and high school in Seoul, so I wanted to play baseball for a Seoul team. After I was drafted by the Lotte Giants in Busan, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do well because I didn’t know anyone there. At that time, I didn’t have any relatives and didn’t know anything except that Kang Min-ho’s older brother was from Jeju Island, so I was worried. But right after I was drafted, I started getting a lot of applications from Lotte fans on my Facebook page. I felt the passion of Lotte fans. (Laughs) I thought, ‘It would be really fun to go to Lotte.

Coach Kim Moon-ho high-fives the third base coach after hitting a home run as a Lotte Giants player. International Newspaper DB

[Busan Baseball].

In 2015, you started to make your presence felt by hitting .300. Before that, Lotte had a lot of really good players in the outfield, including Kim Joo-chan, Jeon Jun-woo, and Son Ah-seop. Did you feel overwhelmed by those situations?

[Coach Kim Moon-ho]

Competition is inevitable when you come to the pros, and no matter how good you are every year, it can change overnight. I think I took it in stride. I knew I wasn’t good enough, so I realized early on that if I didn’t work harder, the outfield wouldn’t be my place for the rest of my life. When I joined the team, I think I actually took the professional stage a little too easy, but when I got there, it was a place where all the flying and crawling players were gathered, and I regret that I overlooked that fact,

It was a series of performances that did not live up to the reputation of a high school genius hitter. At the beginning of Kim’s career, the Lotte Giants’ outfield was filled with national team players. It wasn’t easy to make one of those spots your own. Kim Moon-ho was more of a backup than a starter. But then his chance came. In 2015, he started to prove his worth, going 3-for-6 with 88 hits in 93 games. He then exploded in 2016, breaking the 4% mark at the start of the season and becoming the centerpiece of Lotte’s batting order. Cho Won-woo, the manager of Lotte at the time, showed his faith in Kim by consistently playing him. Although his pace slowed down as the season progressed, Kim lived up to his manager’s expectations with a career-high 171 hits in 32.2PPG. Kim said that the driving force behind his career-high performance was his faith.

[Busan Baseball Report].

In 2016, you finally regained your high school fame. You had a career-high batting average in the early part of the season, even challenging for a four-hit season, and finished the season with a 3-for-5 batting average and 172 hits. I still have a lot of memories of my coach, who was intuitive at the time and delivered sharp hits all the time.(Laughs) What was your secret at the time?

[Coach Kim Moon-ho]

The biggest thing was that the coach trusted me. Honestly, if you say that your skills are similar, it’s really energizing for a player to have the coach continue to play you. If you don’t perform well one day, you can’t help but worry about things like, ‘What if I can’t play tomorrow,’ but it’s a very valuable opportunity for a player to be able to relieve such worries. It may have been a big thing that I had a lot of hits with a good batting feeling in the beginning, but I’m really grateful to the coach who kept giving me opportunities at that time.

[Busan Baseball].

Kim Moon-ho’s most famous nickname is “The Big Hitter.” What do you think of this nickname?

[Coach Kim Moon-ho]

I am very grateful for the nickname, which was given to me by my close friend Jung Hoon, who is still playing hard in the field. I’m very grateful to Jung-hoon, but I think it’s an undeserved nickname for me. (Laughs)

[Busan Baseball Report].

If you could summarize your professional life in one word, what word would you choose?

[Coach Kim Moon-ho]

I would choose ‘eventful’. I think I had a hard life in the second team, and I had a short time in the first team, but I decorated sports news, did interviews, and had all those valuable experiences. It was very eventful.

While interviewing Coach Kim, this reporter suddenly had a question. I wondered what Coach Kim thought about the Lotte Giants’ current form after their hot start to the season. After all, the Lotte Giants are a team that follows a similar pattern every year, with a strong start to the season, a midseason slump, and a late-season comeback that leaves you wanting more. Having spent 14 seasons with the Lotte Giants, I was curious to see what Coach Kim had to say about the current situation.

[Busan Baseball Report].

How do you see the Lotte Giants this season?

[Coach Kim Moon-ho]

As a fan of the Lotte Giants, I thought, “This year is going to be really different,” because I’ve gone from being a player to being a fan. The Lotte Giants were so great at the beginning of the season when they were on a winning streak. Baseball is a sport where flow is really important, so I thought, “This year, we’re going to play fall baseball. But I’m looking at it positively. There are a lot of young players coming up, and I think it’s essential for the future of the team, and it’s important to have a new structure, so we have good leaders who can guide these young players, but I hope there will be more in the future.

The interview took place a day before the KBO rookie draft. We couldn’t resist asking Coach Kim, who is the leader of the players who dream of being drafted by a professional organization.

[Busan Baseball].

Based on the date of today’s interview, the rookie draft is tomorrow. I’m sure the Dongwon players are eagerly awaiting their draft picks. How are you looking at it?

[Coach Kim Moon-ho]

I watched the draft last year from the first round to the end. I wasn’t even there when I was drafted. (Laughs) I don’t know how this is going to play out, because I have two sons, and of course I don’t know if I’m going to let them play or not, but I feel like I’m in the shoes of a parent now, and while the parents of the players are probably the most eager, I’m also very eager because it could be a chance for me to be judged as “Coach Moon Ho Kim.” So I’m very eager. I want my students to go to the professional stage.

Dongwon University of Science and Technology’s baseball team, which has produced three professional team designees in its third year of existence. International Newspaper DB

On the day of the interview, Coach Kim was more eager than anyone else to see his students drafted to professional teams. We talked about three of his students, Son Yong-jun (drafted in the third round by the LG Twins), Kim Joo-hoon (drafted in the fifth round by the Kiwoom Heroes), and Kim Min-jae (drafted in the eighth round by the Kia Tigers), all members of the Dongwon University of Science and Technology baseball team. Dongwon University of Science and Technology’s baseball team produced a whopping three draft picks in the 2024 KBO Rookie Draft held on September 14. Considering that most clubs prefer high school players and that Dongwon University of Science and Technology is a team that has just been founded, the three picks are a great achievement. Although the U-League Wangjungwang is not over yet, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Coach Kim’s season has been a success.

To learn more about Coach Kim’s story and player Kim Moon-ho’s ‘strongest baseball’ story, check out the second installment of Busan Baseball’s Coach Kim Moon-ho. For more interviews, you can watch the video above or on our YouTube channel.

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