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(Olympics) S. Korean men's hockey coach enjoys flying under radar with limelight on women's team

2018/02/14 13:27

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By Yoo Jee-ho

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- With the joint Korean women's team taking much of the limelight during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the South Korean men's squad has been the forgotten one.

But that's exactly the way its head coach likes it.

"It's perfect for us," said Jim Paek after practice Wednesday, the day before South Korea's first game against the Czech Republic. "Let's fly under the radar. Better for us."

  

South Korean men's hockey head coach Jim Paek instructs his players during practice at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 14, 2018, the day before their first Group A game against the Czech Republic in the men's tournament of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap) South Korean men's hockey head coach Jim Paek instructs his players during practice at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 14, 2018, the day before their first Group A game against the Czech Republic in the men's tournament of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

In addition to being the men's coach, Paek is also the national team director. He has been following the developments surrounding the joint women's team, from its formation last month to its struggles in the Olympics so far, with back-to-back 8-0 losses to Switzerland and Sweden.

Paek said he will try to support Sarah Murray, the women's head coach, whenever she needs him, but for the time being, "I've kind of stayed out of her hair.

"I don't think she even has a second to breathe," Paek said. "She has more distractions now than ever."

   Despite the high level of stress that's sure to accompany Murray's job, Paek said he isn't worried about the women's coach because of her makeup.

"She thrives on challenges," he said. "She's very intense, and she's a perfectionist."

   From the national team director's point of view, Paek said the media attention on the women's team is positive because it promotes hockey in a country that hasn't exactly been a hotbed of the sport.

"Fans get to read about and see what this hockey is all about," he said. "I think that's been fantastic for us. Hopefully, we'll play well, and that'll be more positive for us."

   Asked if he thought the men's team could also have a unified Korean squad, Paek responded: "You never know. Right now, we've got to focus here. If that ever happens, we'll deal with it when the time comes."

  

South Korean men's hockey players listen to instructions from their coaches during practice at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 14, 2018, the day before their first Group A game against the Czech Republic in the men's tournament of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap) South Korean men's hockey players listen to instructions from their coaches during practice at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 14, 2018, the day before their first Group A game against the Czech Republic in the men's tournament of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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