Title: Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim Triumph and Avoid Military Service with Team Gold Medal Win
Date: Oct 1, 2023
The golfing world may be enraptured by the Ryder Cup this weekend, but two PGA Tour members from South Korea, Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim, have achieved something just as remarkable, if not more so. By leading South Korea to its first team gold medal in 13 years at the Asian Games in China, Im and Kim have not only basked in sporting glory but also earned exemption from a mandatory 21 months of military service before the age of 35.
Under the rules, any South Korean athlete who secures an Olympic medal or a gold medal at the Asian Games becomes exempt from military duty. This year marked the first time that professional golfers were eligible to compete in the Asian Games, opening the door for Im and Kim to make history.
Im expressed his excitement about the exemption, stating, “I think I should be able to stay focused even more on the PGA Tour. I feel like I can have a really long and successful run there. I think this will help me so much mentally.” This exemption will undoubtedly provide Im and Kim with the opportunity to fully commit to their golfing careers without any distractions or interruptions.
Im, Kim, along with amateurs Jang Yu-bin and Cho Woo-young, dominated the competition, securing a commanding 25-stroke victory over Thailand for the team gold medal at the prestigious West Lake International Golf Course in Hangzhou, China. Im further showcased his exceptional talent by winning an individual silver medal, finishing second in the competition with a score of 26-under par, just one stroke behind Taichi Kho of China. Kim, on the other hand, claimed a respectable fourth-place finish at 23-under.
In addition to this incredible achievement, Kim had an added reason to celebrate. His wife, Ji Hyun Oh, was in the United States, preparing to welcome their first child. Reflecting on his recent successes, Kim expressed his joy, saying, “She knows how hard I’ve had to work for this. I can’t wait to go see her. Ever since I married her, only good things have been happening in my career.”
Im and Kim’s triumph at the Asian Games not only signifies their individual skill and dedication but also highlights the rising prominence of South Korean golf on the international stage. Their success will undoubtedly inspire a new generation of golfers in their homeland, showcasing the potential of South Korean athletes to compete at the highest level.
While the Ryder Cup may attract the most attention from golf fans around the world this weekend, the remarkable feat achieved by Sungjae Im and Si Woo Kim in winning the team gold medal at the Asian Games is not to be overlooked. Their victory not only brought pride to their nation but also paved the way for their continued success in the PGA Tour, with the assurance of exemption from military service.