‘600,000 Tries’ coach Oh Young-gil “Rugby, the answer found in discrimination”
13 years ago, attention was focused nationwide on the Osaka Korean Advanced School (Osaka Jogo), a high school for Korean residents in Japan located in Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan.
This is because they made it to the semifinals of the Hanazono, the most prestigious high school competition called the ‘Koshien of Rugby’, through the preliminaries in Osaka Prefecture, where there are many strong teams in Japan.
This tournament, which boasts a history of over 100 years, is a dream stage for Japanese rugby players, and Osaka Jo High School, a Joseon high school, was a thorough ‘outsider’.
In 2010, a policy was introduced in Japan to make all high school education free, but ‘Chosun School’ Osaka Jo High School was excluded. It was also frequent that they were targeted by anti-Korean groups’ ‘hate speech’ (hate demonstrations against a specific ethnic group or people).
“Rugby was like a way to promote our existence and situation throughout Japan and be recognized.”
The story of Osaka Jogo at that time was included in the movie ‘600,000 Tries’ released in 2014.
Director Oh Yeong-gil (55), a Korean-Japanese who led the team as the main character of the movie, took office as the first commanding tower of the OK Financial Group’s ‘Thsman Rugby Team’, which was launched in March last year, 13 years later.
In an interview with Yonhap News on the 4th at the office of the Korea Rugby Association in Jung-gu, Seoul, coach Oh confessed why he and his students had no choice but to choose rugby 13 years ago.
Coach Oh, who has been to Hanazono 7 times for 8 years since 2007, looked back and said, “Even when I was in high school, there was a lot of discrimination in Japan. It was very difficult.”
Coach Oh said, “People tended to be too pessimistic about being subject to discrimination. It’s always been said that their rights were taken away.” I had to tell you,” he said.
To fight discrimination, there are also ways to raise a direct voice, such as protests.
When asked why he chose ‘rugby’ instead of such a political struggle, coach Oh asked back, “Wasn’t it possible to officially inform Japanese society of the existence of our school through a fair match between students of the same age?”
1994 was the first time the rugby team of Osaka Jo High School officially appeared in a national tournament. Originally, it was not allowed to participate, but with the help of the Japanese people, such as rugby토토사이트 coaches and lawyers holding a signature campaign, they were able to step on the stage of the national competition.
Director Oh said, “Having an official game means that the fact that we played will remain as an official record. Since it is a national tournament, it has the effect of being known throughout the region, such as Kyoto, Tokyo, and Hokkaido.”
He continued, “When we went to the provinces for the tournament, everyone looked at the names of the players and asked in English, ‘Can you speak Japanese?'” and added, “Even we were dumbfounded.
Director Oh said, “I know that there is a school like ours, but I don’t know what kind of students learn and what kind of education they do there. It’s about perception.” It’s a sport,” he replied.
Hanazono was a challenge for both players and coaches. At the time, Osaka Jo High School was a small school with about 400 students.
Director Oh said, “The road may be difficult. But let’s go together, let’s try together. I want to say, ‘I’ll lead you,’ but it was a challenge for me too.” said.
When mentioning the disciples who made the ‘Hanazono 4 River’, his voice became more powerful.
He said, “It’s a tournament where all Japanese high school students compete under the same conditions, so do well, and do well there to change your fate.” I told him to try it. Now, many of them play in the Japanese rugby world or go to companies,” he said proudly.
It wasn’t just the players who were challenged. Director Oh also came to Korea after a challenge of his own.
He could have stayed at school as a high school coach, but in 2015 he worked as a power analyst for Japanese semi-professional team NTT Docomo to experience high-level rugby.
From 2021, he also took on the position of director of the association and coach of the Korean national team, after coming into contact with Choi Yoon, OK Financial Group and Korea Rugby Association president, a former Zainichi Korean rugby player who had met for the first time as an enemy in a tournament more than 30 years ago.
Chairman Choi asked Coach Oh to take over the commanding tower of the newly launched Thinman Rugby Team.
This is because he believes that leadership to master the players is important to manage an unfamiliar club called ‘working players’, who work in the OK Financial Group’s working-level department during the day and exercise the rest of the time.
Coach Oh’s new goal is the success of the ‘youngest’ unemployed team, Itsman Rugby Team.
After training five times a week from 8 to 10 am, the players go to work and focus on their own work, such as loan review.
It is not easy for players who have been concentrating on rugby to adapt to various office work including finance.
Director Oh said, “It’s the same as Hanazono 13 years ago. For me and for the players, the rugby team is a challenge.”
The 1st Korea Super Rugby League, held for three weeks from the end of March, was Coach Oh’s debut in Korea.
The Thumman rugby team lost all rounds 1, 2, and 3.
After losing 5-59 to KEPCO in the first round, the Thumman rugby team met with Hyundai Glovis and POSCO E&C in the second and third rounds and broke 10-67, 0-43.
Coach Oh is hoping for his first victory in a face-to-face confrontation with the Armed Forces Athletic Corps in the first round of the second league competition held at Incheon Namdong Asiad Rugby Stadium on the 6th.
When asked, “When do you think you will win your first win?” to coach Oh, who said, “First win is the goal,” he replied, “The day after tomorrow, this Saturday.”
“Next year, my goal is to win. I have to beat KEPCO, POSCO E&C, and Hyundai Glovis,” he said, laughing.