Soonwoo Kwon's drama: he will have to join the army

The elimination from the 2023 Asian Games without winning a medal will force the current number 112 in the ATP ranking to enlist for compulsory military service in his country

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Soonwoo Kwon's drama: he will have to join the army
© Aitor Alcalde / Stringer Getty Images Sport

The South Korean tennis player Kwon Soon-Woo, after the unexpected defeat against the Thai Samrej Kasidit, number 636 in the world, had a sensational outburst, which hid a dramatic revelation: he will have to join the army.

The elimination from the 2023 Asian Games without winning a medal will force the current number 112 in the ATP ranking to enlist for compulsory military service in his country.

The Military Service Law in South Korea obliges all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of 18 and 28 to serve in the military for approximately one and a half to two years, as part of the country's efforts to strengthen protection against North Korea.

However, some prominent sports and cultural figures may be granted an exemption if they are considered capable of promoting national prestige by winning a medal at the Olympics or a gold medal at the Asian Games. The best-known examples include Tottenham footballer Son Heung-min, who was granted an exemption after leading the Korean team to a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, and gold medalist Chung Hyeon at the 2014 Asian Games (doubles) and former world number 19.

Kwon, a former world number 52, lost to a player ranked more than 500 places below him in the second round of the men's singles and withdrew from the men's doubles in the semifinals against Indian pair Saketh Myneni and Ramkumar Ramanathan.

As a result, having not won any medals at the event, he will have to fulfill his obligation to serve in the South Korean army.

The outburst and apologies on Instagram

After the 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 defeat against the Thai tennis player Kasidit, the 25-year-old South Korean vented his frustration by destroying his racket, also refusing to shake hands with the chair umpire and his opponent.

Kwon Soon-woo later apologized in an Instagram post for his behavior: "Immediately after the end of the second round of the Asian Games Tennis Fasting Match with Kasidit Samrez, I did something reckless that I shouldn't have done as a player of the national.

I sincerely apologize to all the people who supported the national team's match and to the fans at the stadium. I am sorry. Once again, I sincerely apologize to my opponent who felt offended by my rude behavior. I am sincerely sorry and reflect on the actions that were seen after the match.

As a national athlete representing the country, I will think carefully and be a more responsible athlete, paying attention to all actions. Once again my sincerest apologies to all sports lovers."

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