“I feel like I have to be as good as they expect me to be. There is a lot of pressure, but I try to overcome it every day.”
Kim Se-bin (18-middle blocker), a junior in the school’s volleyball team, said this when we met at Hanbom High School Gymnasium in Suwon on Sunday. Kim is one of the most sought-after players ahead of the women’s professional volleyball rookie draft for the 2023-2024 season, scheduled to be held in September. “She’s the unquestioned No. 1 overall pick,” said one pro team coach, “and one of the top prospects in recent seasons.”
Kim was also recognized by fans after the trade between Pepper Savings Bank and Korea Expressway Corporation. Pepper Savings Bank brought back starting setter Lee Ig-eun (28), who was sent to Korea Expressway Corporation as compensation for free agent Park Jung-ah (30), and gave up a first-round rookie draft pick along with middle blocker Choi Ga-eun (22). This led to complaints among Pepper Savings Bank fans that “the club made a mistake in judgment and added Kim Se-bin to the team.” Pepper Savings Bank is the team that finished last (7th) last season and has the highest probability of winning the first pick (35%).
Kim Se-bin, who is said to be “tall (188 centimeters) and has good footwork,” was selected to the Under-18 and Under-20 national teams last year. She is also the only high school player on the 50-player preliminary roster for the Hangzhou Asian Games, which begin this September. “If she can improve her blocking, she could be an immediate force in the professional ranks,” said Park Ki-joo, who has been at the helm of the school since 2002, when she was a student at Hanbom Girls’ High School, and has produced the likes of Hwang Yeon-ju (37, Hyundai E&C), Kim Yeon-kyung (35, Heungkuk Life) and Bae Yuna (34, Korea Expressway Corporation).
Kim became a starter as soon as she entered Hanbom High School and has led the team to a total of nine national titles. Since last year, the team has won seven consecutive tournaments in a row. “It feels good to win now,” said Kim, who serves as Hanbomgo’s captain. Our goal is to win every tournament we compete in this year. Especially, I want to win the National Games (my last high school competition),” said Kim.
Kim is the second daughter of “volleyball couple” Kim Cheol-soo, 53, the head of KEPCO, and Kim Nam-soon, 53, the former playing coach of 먹튀검증 Korea Tobacco Ginseng Corporation (now KGC Ginseng Corporation). Her father was a middle blocker and her mother an outside hitter. Kim learned to play volleyball for fun from her mother, and started playing seriously in the fourth grade at Pajang Elementary School in Suwon. “I watched volleyball on TV all the time from a young age, so I think I naturally thought, ‘I want to try it, too,'” Kim says. Even now, after a game, I ask my parents for advice on every single move.”
Kim, a former coach of the national team, said, “Se-bin still lacks power and stamina. She needs to improve her strength and stamina so that she can showcase her skills in the professional arena.” “My mom definitely had a different level of power,” Kim said.
Kim’s role model is Yang Hyo-jin (34, Hyundai E&C), the “blocking queen” of the V League. “I have a variety of angles when attacking and a quick wrist snap,” Kim said, adding that although she is confident in attacking, “I think it’s more important to be good at blocking in the pros. I want to learn Hyo-jin’s hand shape, steps, and everything else,” she said, adding, “I will be a hardworking and good player.”