Woori Card was the hottest team in the 2023 V-League off-season. They were in talks with several teams for setter Hwang Seung-bin, who was rumoured to leave the team as soon as the season ended. KB Insurance, who brought in free agent Na Kyung-bok, but will have to endure without their main setter Hwang Taek for the 2023-2024 season, was a possible trade partner. On 25 May, Woori Card traded Hwang Seung-bin and acquired Han Sung-jung. It was an obvious choice as the team needed to fill the void left by outside hitter Na Kyung-bok. Moreover, he is exempt from military service.
The decision was made a long time ago, but the final announcement took some time. The team was worried about the criticism that would follow the departure of Han Sung-jeong, who has the image of a filial athlete. With Han Sung-jung’s return to Woori Card, another player had to leave the team. It was Song Hee-chae. There was no need to keep two players with similar roles. The best team for her was OK Financial Group. They had the best foreign player, Leo, but he was plagued by reception anxiety. She ended up talking to her teammate Song Myung-geun. The puzzle was put together, but OK Financial Group had one unique condition before the final announcement. It was the last variable. They wanted us to complete the salary negotiation for Song Hee-chae on our card.
While Woori Card and Song Hee-chae were negotiating her salary, an OK Financial Group representative met with Song Hee-chae in person. Until then, Song Hee-chae was officially a Woori Card player. At that meeting, a salary was agreed upon and the trade was announced on 26 May. There’s a lot more to this trade than the short announcement. A team that is traded has to rebuild from scratch with new members and organisation. That’s what Shin Young-cheol has done 12 times with the Woori Cards. His ability to bravely make changes year after year and get his team ready for spring volleyball without fail is admired by his supporters, who say he is the best at what he does. Others accuse him of not thinking about the team’s future and only looking at today. Why does he change players?안전놀이터
The first trade Shin Young-cheol made for Woori Card came on 1 October 2018. He received Yoon Bong-woo from KEPCO and gave Shin Moxie Jo Geun-ho. The keyword was change. “When I first took charge of the Woori Card, I needed a change. To change the game, you have to change people. A volleyball team is run by people. I watched the players first. I saw what they were thinking and doing. I believe that when you change your thoughts, you change your behaviour, and when you change your behaviour, you change your life. So I chose to change. It was a trade for the good of the team.”
10 November 2018. In the middle of the season, the team announced a trade for Choi Hong-seok in exchange for Noh Jae-wook. At the time, the Woori Card was in fifth place with a 2-5 record and the KEPCO needed to turn things around after losing their opening seven games in a row. Choi Hong-seok was the franchise player and pillar of the Woori Card. Noh Jae-wook had played seven games in a KEPCO jersey as compensation for Jeon Kwang-in, who left the team as a free agent.
The keywords for the trade, according to head coach Shin Young-cheol, were development and clearance.
“Choi Hong-seok had to go so I could develop Nae Kyung-bok, who is an up-and-coming player. You can’t develop a new player if you have a veteran in that position. If you keep all the players, it’s good for the coach, but it also has a negative side. A player who talks a lot and can’t play is bound to be dissatisfied. Players have their own lives and you can’t sacrifice them. If they are needed by another team, you have to let them go. The coach takes that into consideration, but it can be hurtful to hear a few words from strangers.
After leading the team to spring volleyball for the first time in his first year as head coach, Woori Card decided to make two changes for the 2019-2020 season. The first was a 3-3 trade with KB Insurance. He sent Park Jin-woo, Kim Jung-hwan and Koo Do-hyun and received Ha Hyun-yong, Lee Soo-hwang and Park Kwang-hee. The key players were Park Jin-woo and Ha Hyun-yong. At the time, it was seen as a loss to send the young prospect Park Jin-woo and receive Ha Hyun-yong, who is in his mid-30s. However, subsequent records swayed Shin’s judgement. Ha Hyun-yong’s 94 points and 27 blocked shots in 2019-2020 were well below his seasonal averages, but he had his best two years in 2020-2021 with 267 points and 81 blocked shots, earning him a spot in the top seven for the first time.
With Noh’s arrival, there’s a new problem on the cards. It was the role of veteran setter Yoo Kwang-woo.
He was eventually sold to Korean Air in a cash deal on 2 September 2019. Coach Shin Young-cheol said, “If Yoo Kwang-woo had stayed with us, we wouldn’t have survived. The team’s reception was shaky at the time, and we thought it was better to have a younger, more active setter than Yoo Kwang-woo in this situation. Also, if Noh Jae-wook goes to the army, we need to develop young Ha Seung-woo, and in order to give him a chance, we need to let go of a veteran and make room for him, so we pushed for the trade.”