16 Apr. 2020
Having ended the 2019/20 SK Handball Korea League prematurely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Korean Handball Federation (KHF) recently revealed the All-star Teams, Most Valuable Players (MVP) and best coaches of the competition, which began on 24 November 2019 and finished on 22 February 2020.
The All-star Teams and MVP awards were decided by online voting. The MVP award voting was split 40% media and 60% organising committee, while the voting for the best teams was split 20% media, 50% organising committee and 30% coaches of each team in the respective league.
The SK Sugar Gliders won the women’s league with 21 points from their 14 games, which included nine wins, three draws and two losses, and it marked their return to top spot after their 2017 title. Last year, the title was won by Busan Infrastructure Corporation for the first time, led by the 2018/19 league MVP Ryu Eun Hee, who moved to Paris 92 for this season.
The 2019/20 women’s regular league had originally been scheduled to consist of 21 games with each team playing each three times, but shrunk to 14 rounds, with each team playing each other twice. The final games of the season were also played without any spectators.
The SK Sugar Gliders managed to pip Busan Infrastructure Corporation to the title by one point, while Samcheok City Hall came in third with 19 points. The top three teams all won nine games each in one of the tightest finishes in recent years.
Despite their league title, the SK Sugar Gliders only had one player in the All-star Team, which was diverse enough to feature players from five teams in the final seven. Gwangju’s centre back Kang Kyung Min was named best in her position and also took the MVP award.
“I thought the announcement was wrong”, said Kyung Min to local media after she won the award. “It wasn’t until I received several congratulatory calls that I realised – I will share my joy with my friends who have struggled together.”
The award for Kyung Min is even more impressive considering she gave up handball to become a swimming instructor in her hometown of Incheon for last season. However, Gwangju and the club hierarchy managed to persuade her to come back to handball and help rebuild their team.
“They told me I was more suited to a handball uniform than a swimsuit,” said Kyung Min, when she revealed what the club directors had said to persuade her to come back. “At the time, I thought it was ridiculous, but as time passed by, I saw myself agreeing.”
Park Sung Rip of the SK Sugar Gliders won the best coach award.
Goalkeeper: Park Sae Young (Gyeongnam Development Corporation)
Centre Back: Kang Kyung Min (Gwangju City Corporation)
Left Back: Huh Yu Jin (Gyeongnam Development Corporation)
Right Back: Yu So Jeong (SK Sugar Gliders)
Left Wing: Shin Eun Joo (Incheon City Hall)
Right Wing: Kim Sung Eun (Incheon City Hall)
Line Player: Kang Eun Hye (Busan Infrastructure Corporation)
Most Valuable Player (MVP): Kang Kyung Min (Gwangju City Corporation)
Top Scorer: Kang Kyung Min (Gwangju City Corporation) – 123 goals
Most Assists: Kim A Young (Daegu City Hall) – 68
Most Saves: Park Sae Young (Gyeongnam Development Corporation) – 200
Best Save Ratio: Park Mira (Samcheok City Hall) – 38.56%
Best Coach: Park Sung Rip (SK Sugar Gliders)
Doosan went unbeaten this season, winning 11 of their 12 matches and drawing their other, to finish with 23 points, nine ahead of second-placed SK Hawks and 10 ahead of Incheon Urban Corporation who finished in third.
The league had been scheduled to see each team playing each other four times, but this was reduced to three times each, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The league playoffs were cancelled as well.
Since the league launched back in 2011, Doosan have won the title eight times out of nine (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018/19, 2019/20), missing out on just one, when they finished as runners-up in the 2014 season.
The Doosan dominance was reflected in the All-star Team and MVP awards as their goalkeeper Park Chan Young took both the best in his position and the overall best player title. Four of the seven players in the All-star Team came from Doosan, who also saw their coach, Yoon Kyung Shin, win the best coach award.
Goalkeeper: Park Chan Young (Doosan)
Centre Back: Jeong Ui Kyeong (Doosan)
Left Back: Park Kwang Soon (Hanam City Hall)
Right Back: Jung Su Young (Hanam City Hall)
Left Wing: Choi Beom Moon (Chungnam Provincial Office)
Right Wing: Hwang Do Yeop (Doosan)
Line Player: Kim Dong Myung (Doosan)
Most Valuable Player (MVP): Park Chan Young (Doosan)
Top Scorers: Jung Soo Young, Kwang Soon Park (both Hanam City Hall) – 69 goals
Most Assists: Jung Soo Young (Hanam City Hall) – 50
Most Saves: Ji Hyung Jin (SK Hawks) – 152
Best Save Ratio: Park Chan Young (Doosan) – 43.13%
Best Coach: Yoon Kyung Shin (Doosan)
For more information, visit www.handballkorea.com.