Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lee Sedol's Temporary Retirement.

A big news came from Korea. Lee Sedol, the current Korean number one player will retire for 1 and a half year.

For now, he will only participate in the upcoming 2009 Fuijtsu Cup (best of 8), CCTV fast game and China League 2009. He will not participate in the rest of the international or domestic games (those that haven't start yet from 2009). It is expected that he will make a comeback in early 2011.

The problems came from May, when 6 of Korean pro competitions are delayed. They are Gisung, Myeongin, Electron-Land Cup, BC Card Cup, Osram Cup, and SK Gas cup. Because of the global economic problem, some sponsor that sponsored the Korean Baduk League (KB League) decided not to sponsor this year. Hankuk Kiwon asked for 7 new sponsors, which is one number less than the last year's number. One of the sponsors was the Government of Lee Sedol's home county, which expected to recruit Lee as the captain of the team. However, Lee declined to participate in this year's KB League at the last moment. This made uncertain whether the County Government of Lee's home town would agree to be one of the sponsors, making uncertain the viability of the Korean Baduk League. It was expected that Lee will get some punishments.

Lee Sedol was accused to the following:

a. Not taking part in the Korea League tournament this year as well as the awarding ceremony of last year's tournament. The absence of top players will affect the willingness of businesses to sponsor Go tournaments. This will in turn affect the well-being of less successful Go players. This might be the reason that so many players voted against him. I can understand about this one.

b. not handing in 5% of his income from participating Chinese City League to the players association. I'm not sure about this. Perhaps Lee Sedol has a contract with Hankuk Kiwon about his participation in Chinese City League (though this is just my opinion). After all he is still a pro under Hankuk Kiwon.

c. not signing a contract to allow the Baduk Association to handle the intellectual property of players' game records. I am not sure what this mean.

I can understand why Lee chose to participate in China's tournament. First, it's almost guarantee that he will play with Chinese top players (Gu Li, Chang Hao, Luo Xihe, etc) which will be a good practice for him (so far he has won against Zhou Ruiyang, China's promising young player)

Second, he is paid 10 times bigger in Chinese City League, compared to Korean tournament.