KT Wiz is the only team among the 10 KBO League teams to hold spring camps in Korea this season. The team, which moved to Gijang in Busan on Sept. 29, will hold two-day self-training sessions on Sept. 30 and 31, and will begin its spring camp in earnest on Sept. 1. KT plans to hold its first camp for 20 days until Sept. 21, and move to Okinawa, Japan, for its second camp.
It is the first time in two years that a KBO League team including KT has held a spring camp in Korea since the 2022 season. Back then, however, the road was blocked due to the spread of COVID-19. The last time a KBO League team had a camp in Korea due to the Asian financial crisis was in 1998, when four teams had camp in Korea due to the IMF financial crisis. It has been a whopping 15 years.
For this reason, when KT announced that it will hold a spring camp in Korea this year, there was a lot of controversy. Critics pointed out that the team lacked support. In response, both KT team officials and team captain Park Kyung-soo jumped up and down and said, “That’s not it.” “The players asked the team first,” Park explained.
KT’s change of camp destination was a huge impact last year. When COVID-19 subsided last year, KT set up camp again in Arizona, the U.S. However, the weather was the problem. Arizona was famous for its warm weather even in winter, but last year, the weather continued as snow and hail poured out due to cold weather. Players who failed to pack a padded jacket were shivering in the cold and couldn’t maintain their condition.
The two-hour flight to Los Angeles International Airport and Tucson Airport in Arizona, where the camp is located, was also a challenge for many players. Notably, some of the national team players were forced to take a seven-hour bus due to a defective flight on their way home, and some of the Kia Tigers players had to make an emergency landing at a nearby airport due to bad weather. There were many elements of anxiety.
KT searched again for a candidate for the new season`s spring camp site from the beginning. For now, overseas trips were given priority. Not only Arizona, the U.S. but also Guam was considered. Then, however, the team came up with a suggestion first. “How about Gijang in Busan?” Gijang Hyundai Motor Dream Ball Park, located in Gijang County, Busan, was used by KT as a camp site in Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also a place with fond memories of having the team win its first all-around title at the camp in 2021.
Park Kyung-soo said he recommended the captain to his team after gathering opinions from the team. He mentioned the advantages of not having problems with distance traveled and jet lag, but also excellent environment such as training facilities and hotels. Rather, the team officials were surprised and asked, “Is it okay to go to the stadium?” Park said, “I heard that Arizona was too cold last year, and Guam had difficulties repairing the ground. I thought it would be better to do it at Busan Gijang, so I listened to the team’s opinions and suggested it to the team.”
Park Kyung-soo said, “When we set up camp in Korea, people around me said, ‘Isn’t the club’s investment low?’ No, all the players preferred the captain.” “I have a good memory of winning the title at the stadium. I want to win the title again this year with good memories.”
Meanwhile, a total of 54 players, including 10 coaches and 44 players, will participate in KT’s spring camp. Mel Rojas Jr., who returned to KT after four years, Woo Kyu-min, who joined the team in the second draft last year, and Chun Seong-ho, who won the Futures Southern League batting award last season as a member of Sangmu, will join the camp. A total of three players, including pitcher Won Sang-hyun, pitcher Yuk Cheong-myung and catcher Kim Min-seok, have been on the camp list for 2024.