Heungkuk Life expects Kim Yeon-kyung’s comeback effect from ‘Score + Success’

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Kim Yeon-kyung. /Korea Volleyball Federation

‘Volleyball Empress’ Kim Yeon-kyung (34, Heungkuk Life Insurance) returned to the domestic stage after a long time. Kim Yeon-kyung’s return to the V-League is an evaluation that is a positive factor to shake off the bad news of the current women’s volleyball team, which is struggling in international competitions.

After living in Shanghai, Kim Yeon-kyung, who was worried about returning to Korea with other overseas clubs, responded to Heungkuk Life’s ‘love call’ with 9 days left before the registration deadline for the V-League 2022-23 season, which ends on the 30th. On the 20th, Kim Yeon-kyung set up the first negotiating table with Kim Yeo-il, head of Heungkuk Life Insurance, while dismissing rumors of discord. During this meeting, it was reported that the two sides reached a amicable agreement.

Kim Yeon-kyung’s contract with Heungkuk Life Insurance is for a total of 700 million won per year (an annual salary of 450 million won + options 250 million won), the highest amount in the women’s professional volleyball team. For Kim Yeon-kyung to play in her country, she had to play one more season with her former team, Heungkuk Life. This is because she was tied as a voluntary withdrawal player when she left for Shanghai, China after spending the 2020-2021 season at Heungkuk Life. Therefore, Kim Yeon-kyung becomes a free agent (FA) after one year. So, the atmosphere that predicts that Kim Yeon-kyung’s actions after the 2022-2023 season could become the ‘eye of the typhoon’ is also perceived in the volleyball world rather than now.

Previously, in 2020, Kim Yeon-kyung received an annual salary estimated to be around 1.3 billion to 1.7 billion won in overseas leagues, but decided to return to Korea by lowering her annual salary to 350 million won due to a salary cap. At that time, Heungkuk Life Insurance had already paid 1 billion won to the twin sisters Lee Jae-young and Da-young (26) as an FA contract. Kim Yeon-kyung cut her salary herself to minimize damage to her juniors in the V-League, where her salary cap clause is. Her cause of her return was “for (Tokyo) Olympic medals”. Afterwards, Kim Yeon-kyung retired from her national team after writing a semifinal drama at the Tokyo Olympics last August. She and she went to the Chinese Women’s Professional Volleyball Super League, where she led the Shanghai team to the top of Ligue 3.

Right now, Heungkuk Life is expected to improve its grades thanks to Kim Yeon-kyung’s comeback effect. Heungkuk Life, which finished 6th out of 7 teams with 10 wins and 23 losses (31 points) due to various adverse events last season, broke up with former manager Park Mi-hee and recruited ‘rebuilding expert’ Kwon Soon-chan. Coach Kwon said, “As a veteran ace Kim Yeon-kyung, he will be the centerpiece of a team with many young players.” Kim Yeon-kyung will join the team training in early July to prepare for the upcoming season.

Kim Yeon-kyung’s return is also a good thing that will influence the overall box office game of volleyball. Kim Yeon-kyung’s retired women’s volleyball team is struggling in international competitions. The V-League desperately needed a reversal card that would make them forget this situation.

This is the background to emphasize that the Heungkuk Life team wants to help develop Korean women’s professional volleyball beyond the team over the contract with Kim Yeon-kyung. Heungkuk Life Club official said, “Kim Yeon-kyung made a big decision. As a club, we plan to actively support Kim Yeon-kyung so that she can play volleyball in a fun way.”

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