Woo Hee Jun - A Kabaddi Player Turned Miss Erath Korea Turned ROTC Cadet.

Society often considers that women who are pretty are not able to play sports or do physically enduring activities. In today’s article, we bring to you a story of a woman from South Korea who is not only a sportsperson but also a beauty pageant winner. Here’s a look into Woo Hee Jun‘s inspirational story.

 

Kabaddi

South Korea’s Woo Hee-jun (R) tries to score as Taiwan’s players defend during the women’s team Group B kabaddi match between Taiwan and South Korea at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta on August 20, 2018. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP via Getty Images)

 

Woo Hee Jun is a former- South Korean national Kabaddi player. Kabaddi is a comparatively lesser-known sport in South Korea. When she visited India in her 20s, she was curious to see the little kids playing in groups. She asked further and the game turned out to be Kabaddi. That’s when she decided to become a Kabaddi player. She became a national level Kabaddi player in 2015. Since Kabaddi is not a popular sport in Korea, they had to face hardships initially. The team had to practice at a university gym.

In 2016, she helped the team win a gold medal at the 4th Asian Women Kabaddi Championship. Then in 2017, the team won a silver medal at the 5th Asian Women Kabaddi Championship. And in 2018, the team won gold at Taiwan International Kabaddi Tournament.

 

Miss Korea Pageant

Image credits – koreatimes.co.kr

 

Woo Hee Jun was the first runner up at Miss Korea 2019. Later, she participated as Miss Earth Korea at the Miss Earth pageant. The reason she went to compete in the beauty pageants is to spread more awareness about the sport of Kabaddi. She wanted more people to know and participate in the sport. In doing so, not only did she win the competition, but also set an example for young people. One of the reasons for participating was also that she wanted to rid the stereotypes that sportsperson cannot do anything beyond their sport or that they are not good in studies. She mentioned that since she knew less about makeup and dressing up, she asked other participants for help. In return, she taught them squats and other forms of exercises.

Image credits – HIM magazine via Woo Hee Jun Instagram (@heejunking)

Inspiration

In one of her interviews, she mentioned that her father is her inspiration. Her father was a taekwondo player and currently, he is a detective officer. He encouraged her to engage in sports. Before joining Kabaddi, Ms. Hee Jun was a part of the cheerleading team as well. She participated in various national and international competitions as well. As a result, she is also fluent in English and Chinese languages.

 

ROTC Cadet

Image credits – koreatimes.co.kr

 

Currently, she is an ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps), cadet. She has only 6 months of training left. She shall become an army officer once she graduates. Her reason for becoming an army officer stems from her patriotism for her country. Any sport has a limitation, that is one cannot continue to play the sport for a long period of time. She wanted to serve her country for a longer time, so she decided to join the army.

 

She took three different paths, and each path has been a great learning experience for her. In doing so, she has also set an example for the women in South Korea and abroad that women can do anything they set their minds on. Woo Hee Jun is indeed a source of inspiration and a great role model for the younger generation.

Kabaddi as a sport has grown a lot in India in the last few years. With Kabaddi getting recognition and international tournaments happening in India, the sport has reached new heights. Legend has it that the game originated in Tamil Nadu, about 4,000 years ago. Additionally, many players from the Men’s National Kabaddi team from South Korea have also participated in the Pro Kabaddi League in India. There is also an anime titled “Shakunketsu Kabaddi” or Burning Kabaddi which is set to release in 2021.

Written by

Nandini Iyengar

An aspiring translator and a writer!