Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim speaks to 10News about his return to South Korea

Ha Seong-Kim interview at Spring Training 2024
Posted at 3:58 PM, Mar 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-19 19:48:06-04

PEORIA, Az. (KGTV) — Spring Training is when top MLB prospects earn spots and veteran stars showcase their skills for the crowds of fans lined up to catch a glimpse of their favorite players.

This year, training is shorter, and the reason is more than 6,000 miles away. The stage is set for the first-ever MLB regular season game in Seoul, South Korea — a place that is near and dear to the heart of Padres Star shortstop Ha-Seong Kim.
I got a chance to spend some time with Kim and his translator, David Lee, at Spring Training to chat about his return to South Korea.

"I'm really grateful and honored to be a part of something historic," Kim says. "An MLB game has never been played before in Korea, so I'm really glad that I get to go back to my home country and play a major league game with this group of guys."

Although South Korea is known around the world for its advancements in technology, rich culture and delicious food, to the Friar Faithful, it’s simply where Ha-Seong Kim dominated in the Korean Baseball Organization.

The KBO is also where the Padres’ new relief pitcher, Woo-Suk-Go, started his career.

Kim says this trip is about sharing his home with his teammates and the world.

"I think I'm just overall excited to just show my teammates the whole country, the culture, and how baseball culture is in South Korea." he says.

Teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. says this trip to Korea won’t just be about baseball — it’s about family.

"It's going to be a fun experience. I can't wait to see what Kim is about and the beautiful culture and go there... I'm 100% looking forward to that experience," says Tatis Jr.

Manager Mike Shildt says that’s what makes this team unique: bringing their love for the game to a different level.

"We have this international game now, where we have more players coming over. We expose our game internationally but we’re incorporating more players internationally — that’s super healthy," Shildt says. "Look at our roster: We have four languages in our clubhouse, and I think that’s fantastic.”

While the focus will be on baseball and starting the season strong, the players are also ready to have some fun, perhaps in the form of karaoke, which is a favorite of Kim’s.

"I don't really have one particular song, but I do like singing Korean ballad songs," Kim says.

I asked Tatis, if he was a karaoke guy.

"No! I’m probably going to try to do the drums or something. I don’t karaoke," Tatis Jr. says.