If you ask handball officials to name the best player in the women’s division of the SK handball league, the most common answer is Kang Gyeong-min (27, center back) from Gwangju Metropolitan City Corporation. It deserves it. This is because Kang Kyung-min won the regular league best player (MVP) for the first time in the 2019-2020 season and was selected as MVP three times out of four seasons, including the 2022-2023 season that ended on the 16th.
Kang Kyung-min, who said at the time of the first MVP, “I thought the announcement was wrong,” said this season as well, “There were many players who were very active, so I didn’t expect it. I was lucky,” he said. Kang Kyung-min scored 195 goals this season, which is the second-highest in women’s history. The first place in history is also the 206 goals recorded when Kang Kyung-min was selected as the MVP for the 2020-2021 season.
Kang Kyung-min has scored a total of 875 goals so far this season and is ranked 3rd in all-time scoring. Kang Gyeong-min, along with Yu So-jung (27, SK, 6th), is the latest to make her handball league debut (2015) among the players who have been named in the top 10 in career scoring. And her number of appearances (132) is also the lowest.
The reason for the small number of games is that she has been off the court for about 9 months since November 2018. Kang Kyung-min, who worked as a swimming instructor in his hometown of Incheon, said, “I will never look at the ‘hand’ in handball again.” As I took a break from exercise, the painful areas healed, and my heart toward handball became more desperate.” The reason why Kang Gyeong-min took up handball again was the persistent persuasion of coach Oh Se-il, who newly took the helm of Gwangju Urban Corporation. Director Oh persuaded Kang Kyung-min for nearly four months, going back and forth between Gwangju and Incheon.
Eventually, as Kyung-Min Kang, who returned to the court, took center stage, the Gwangju Urban Corporation, which was called the ‘pronoun of last place’, was also reborn as a team aiming for a ‘winner’. After participating in the league in the 2020-2021 season, it ranked 4th in the regular league for the first time and advanced스포츠토토 to the playoffs, and in the last two seasons, it took second place in the regular league in a row.
Kang Kyung-min said, “This season, the team’s four main players fell out at once due to injuries, and I just thought ‘let’s hold on’. However, the young players performed better than expected and proved that we are a strong team. I am proud,” he said. Kang Kyung-min expressed regret when mentioning the names of his teammates who were missing due to injuries, including Aru Seo (27), Hye-soo Song (24), Seon-pil Won (29), and Seung-mi Han (29).
Kang Kyung-min, who took over as the team captain when Han Seung-mi, who was the captain, was injured, said, “I know very well how we got here, so on the last day of the regular season, I told my younger brothers, ‘Let’s enjoy’ instead of ‘Let’s win’.” I plan to jump one step further with the thought of doing my share. I don’t want to lose,” he said.
Gwangju Metropolitan City Corporation will play a one-off playoff on the 3rd of next month with the winner of the semi-playoff against SK in 3rd place and Busan Facilities Corporation in 4th place in the regular season. If they win this game, they will face off against Samcheok City Hall, who are ranked first in the regular league, in the championship match with 2 wins out of 3 matches. Since the handball league will change to a professional league from next year, this is the last postseason played as a semi-professional. Kang Kyung-min said, “I will do my best until the end of the handball league.”
Since 2019, when he returned to the handball court, Kang Kyung-min has lived with the words, “I will play handball short and thick until 30.” However, as Kang Kyung-min, who has established himself as a key player not only in his team but also in the national team, is approaching the age of 30, voices that dissuade this pledge are getting louder.
Kang Kyung-min laughed and said, “I was especially scolded by Eun-hee Ryu (33, Hungarian Sinri), who entered Europe at the age of 30.” I’ll think about the phrase ‘shortly until 30’. However, he wants to continue to show his ‘thick’ appearance until he stops playing handball.”