For Korean male athletes, winning an Asian Games gold medal comes with an added bonus: an exemption from mandatory military service.It’s often a touchy and divisive issue in Korea, and prominent professional athletes receive the bulk of the spotlight, for one reason or another.For the Korean men’s Asiad football team, which beat Japan 2-1 for the gold medal in China on Saturday night, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) midfielder Lee Kang-in is easily the biggest name among those getting an exemption.It comes at an opportune time in Lee’s career, too. The 22-year-old signed a lucrative deal with the French champions this summer, and the military service exemption will set him on a path to an uninterrupted career in France or perhaps elsewhere in Europe down the road. This was the gamble that PSG were willing to take. Because the Asian Games aren’t part of the FIFA international calendar, clubs are under no obligation to release their players. However, Lee convinced PSG to let him play for the country in the middle of their club season and even put that into his contract.
PSG only let him leave after he played in a UEFA Champions League group stage match soon after the Asian Games tournament kicked off, and Lee didn’t join Korea until the third and final group stage match. And he never once played a full 90 minutes.Lee, who missed some time from late August to early September with a left quadriceps injury, wasn’t close to being Korea’s best player on their run to the gold medal. That distinction belongs to Jeong Woo-yeong, midfielder for the Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart who led the Asian Games tournament with eight goals in seven matches.Jeong scored a brace in the semifinals against Uzbekistan and netted the equalizer against Japan to key Korea’s rally. Though not nearly as beloved as Lee by Korean fans, Jeong, 24, is another talented young attacking player who will now be able to enjoy a potentially long club career.
Before Lee and Jeong came the likes of Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-min and Bayern Munich defender Kim Min-jae, who earned their military service exemptions with their 2018 Asian Games gold medals. Both players have established themselves as among the best in Europe, something Lee and Jeong will now try to do as they enter their prime years.Korea head coach Hwang Sun-hong said the gold medal would have a positive impact on Lee’s career in the long run.”He’s playing for a great club, and I think he has to keep improving,” Hwang said. “And this exemption will help him continue on that career path. And I also think he has to keep playing hard for the country. It’s important for him to play his best when wearing the national flag on his chest. And since he’s playing well for a big club, I expect him to have a major influence on the development 온라인카지노 of Korean football.