September 8th, 2010
11:30 AM ET

Baseball player's options: Win gold or go serve

Shin-Soo Choo and the South Korean team will be going for gold at the Asian Games.

For Cleveland Indians player Shin-Soo Choo it is literally win big or go home - and serve.

Choo, like any male from South Korea, has an obligation to serve in his country's military for two years by the end of the year they turn 30. And at 28, Choo's running out of time.

But he may be able to stave off his service. Choo was just named to his country's final 24-man roster for November's Asian games. reports that if Choo's team captures the gold medal in the Games, he would likely get an exception from the South Korean military. He missed the chance to earn the top medal for his country at the Olympics because Major League Baseball doesn't allow its players to compete.

But this go-around, the timing is right.

And it could mean good things for the South Korean's baseball career, which would be able to continue instead of returning home to train for the military.

"My first thing is that I'm playing for my country as best as I can," Choo told "If we play good, maybe we'll win. ... That's my first goal. Then the next thing would be my military obligation. But it's not the first thing I'm trying for. I'm playing for Korea."

The Indians' organization has fully endorsed Choo's decision, reported.

"As always, with international competition, we leave the decision up to the player," assistant general manager Chris Antonetti told "In Choo's case, he certainly wants to represent his country. Provided there's not an injury or a workload concern, we are always in support of international competition."

And it's likely his Cleveland teammates will be rooting him on - if nothing else to ensure he can stay around and help the team in the next few years.

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Filed under: Baseball • Sports
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Dexter

    America rules

    September 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Go Cleveland!!!

      Long live the hastily made Cleveland tourism videos. The show how lovely the mistake on the lake really is.


      September 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Those are probably the two funniest videos on youtube. I really enjoy laughing at what a dump Cleveland is, as does a talented hometown comedian who made the videos.

      September 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      I wonder if Shin-Soo Choo actually enjoys Cleveland or loves his big salary? Lol did he take less money to be in the lovely city of Cleveland as so many of his peers have?

      September 8, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hot in Cleveland


      September 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf


      September 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf


      September 8, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      lol Cleveland where we export our crippling poverty and all our fish have aids. Maybe just maybe due to incredible fluke of chance your great great grandkids might see Cleveland win a championship in a major sport. Hahaha heres to eternal hope eh?

      September 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • geoff h

      This clown ducks military duty and makes millions while we have 50,000 American soldiers guarding his country from attack by North Korea. What a country!

      September 8, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tim

    GO SOUTH KOREA! We need him back!

    September 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mo

    Oh well give my Kaliahnikov!!

    September 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ooops123

      South Koreans use M16's I believe. No AK"s from what I remember from my 18 month tour.

      September 8, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. k

    Well, best of luck!

    September 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Squirts

    Had the honor of serving a year on the DMZ in Korea. Knew many young South Koreans doing their duty of service for their country. Those who worked closely with the US and could speak english were called "KATUSA" (Korean Augmentation to the US Army). Now that the 2nd Infantry Division has pulled back from the "Z", Korea needs its conscripted service men now more than ever. I wish him well,

    September 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. The_Dude

    I bet kim song ill didn't have to do this mandatory service

    September 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • steebu

      wrong country.....

      September 8, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Kim Song Il? xD

      September 8, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • sean

      Yeah he did, I met him, real nice guy. He runs a BBQ downtown.

      September 8, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rich

    I assume The_Dude meant Kim Jong-il. And yes, North Koreans don't have to give military service time to South Korea. Imagine that.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. AdmiralAwesome

    Kim Jong Ill is North Korean...

    September 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. johnnyhouse

    We could get some from the hood here, they already armed,could teach our soldiers how to hold it like it comes out of de box, you know sideways.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thelonious

      You are an ingrate.

      September 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Haha, so true, gangsters are nothing but losers in life. I don't mind them as long as they kill their own, after all, the only good gangster is a dead gangster.

      September 8, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Aezel

    Like, I hate to say it but, even if he wins and gets to stay the Cleveland Indians are currently a sinking ship.

    September 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      Maybe so, but they are an American sinking ship.

      If it's American, it sinks.

      September 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. asdf

    Go Cleveland!!!

    For a montage of how wonderful the mistake on the lake is:


    September 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Everyone whether a Cleveland resident or not needs to watch the hastily made Cleveland tourism videos on youtube at least once. Pee your pants funny.

      September 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mike T

    He should serve just like every other South Korean male. I spent 3 yrs at the DMZ during my tour of duty. I found my Korean counterparts to be very abled, but this guy should serve as well!!

    September 8, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ruby gumshoe

    Hey! Elvis put his career on hold when he was drafted and then served honorably in the US Army; what's this guy's excuse?

    September 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • umad

      its 2010.

      September 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Elvis though was an entertainer in the Army (better than nothing). Jimmy Stewart (you know dude from Its a Wonderful Life) actually served in combat on a bomber during WW2.

      September 8, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. AD

    When I was stationed in South Korea, I met a young man who was born in Korea but grew up in the states. He went to visit some family when he was grown and was told he had to enlist because he was still a South Korean. He could have gotten right back on a plane and came 'home' but he didn't. Instead he enlisted. He was not even given an assignment as a Katusa (reserved for the rich), he went straight to the ROK Army (as soon as the GIs heard his English he became the unofficial translator though). Shin-Soo Choo could learn a lot from that kid. It is called honor.

    September 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. R

    Obviously not a lot of baseball fans posting on CNN, I understand that. #1 Choo is not making a big salary ($500K) in his 3rd year. He is however due a big raise as this is his first year of arbitration eligibility. #2 He never chose to play in Cleveland. He signed an international minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners and was traded to Cleveland. He has had no say in playing there and he will not have a say for 3 more years unless Cleveland decides they don't want him anymore.

    Finally, there is no one who believes that South Korea will actually make him serve 2 years and not play baseball. He is doing much better things for the country by being a successful Korean athlete than what he could do in serving in the military. There have been some creative ways thrown around that he can use his celebrity to promote South Korean and the South Korean Military

    September 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Doesn't take a Bill James (baseball stat expert) to realize nobody goes to Cleveland or stays willingly for less money or in some cases for any amount of money (Lebron James). This is true regardless if you are a plumper or a baseball star.

      September 8, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
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