I still get the Canadian Embassy in Seoul’s e-Newsletter even though I’ve been back in Canada for four years now (wow, it’s exactly four years!), mainly to stay in touch with things happening there. One of the articles in the last issue caught my attention and led to this post.
You see, like many Canadians, I love hockey (which is generally referred to as ice hockey by non-Canadians). I grew up watching it – and cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs much to the dismay of my Montreal Canadiens loving father :) – and playing it. During my three years living in Korea, hockey on of the things I missed most, was right after my friends and family.
Unfortunately, while I was living in Korea there was little opportunity to watch hockey because it simply didn’t exist. Not at the professional level at least. At least that was what I thought. Little did I know – and I wish I did which is why I’m sharing the information with you – that there is a professional league which has teams in Korea.
Don’t get me wrong, sports are just as popular in Korea as they are here in Canada but baseball and soccer are the sports of choice. I had the opportunity to see both in Korea, and it was a lot of fun (and an upcoming post). I even caught a basketball game but no hockey unfortunately.
What I didn’t know was since 1994, Korea has had a professional hockey team. In fact, they how have two teams in the Asia League. I didn’t find out about them until I returned to Canada but have been following the progress of the Anyang Halla since I found them on Twitter.
And they’re not just a token team. They were one of the founding members of the Asia League. In fact, they existed before the Asia League (they started in 1994 and the Asia League started in 2003). But the kicker is that in 2009/2010, they won the Asia League Championship – the first Korean team to do so. Yay!
This leads me back full circle to my opening paragraph. The article that caught my attention was about Ric Jackman, a Canadian professional hockey player who formerly played in the NHL (National Hockey League) and is now playing for the Anyang Halla. As a hockey fan, I recognized his name but the fact that he was playing for the Asia League intrigued me. I knew he wasn’t the first Canadian to play there but it’s much more common for Canadians not playing in the NHL to go to Europe (were hockey is popular, although nowhere is it as popular as in Canada, we’re pretty crazy about hockey). There are two other Canadians on the Anyang Halla – Mark Derlago and Brock Radunske. Of course, the rest of the players are all Korean.
As a hockey fan, following the progress of the Anyang Halla – and the other Korean team, the High 1, which plays in Chuncheon and has three Canadian players – is interesting not only because I wished I knew about them while I was still there. But it’s also promising for the upcoming 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea. The host country always gets to ice a team and even though hockey isn’t popular or very prevalent in Korea, they’ll have enough qualified players to ice a decent team. I know it’s still a while until 2018 but I’m still excited to possibly watch Canada and Korea play each other.
Now if only I had have known about the Anyang Halla when I was still living in Korea. I would have attended a game or two.