By Senior Feature Writer Kim Hyung-dae
With the intention of distributing Baduk (Go), Saudi Arabia has selected Korean professional Baduk player Kim Myung-wan (44, 8th dan) as its advance guard.
At the invitation of the Saudi government, Kim Myung-wan visited the capital Riyadh for ten days just before the Lunar New Year holiday in January 2022 and returned home. He explained changes in Saudi Arabia, a Baduk wasteland'.
Kim said, “Saudi Arabia has been engulfed in a huge national renovation project called ‘Vision 2030’ for several years. Its goal is to move away from dependence on oil, transform the industrial structure, and build a smart city of the future.”
Baduk is included in the “Quality of Life” project, which includes culture, arts and sports. “The budget for ‘quality of life’ alone, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has reached 42 trillion won,” Kim said.
Abdulaziz University, one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East, commissioned by the Saudi government for related work, has chosen three sports as mind sports that will enrich life: Baduk (Go), chess, and bridge.
After that, Saudi Arabia decided to choose Kim as an expert in an advanced country to discuss the Baduk (Go) distribution project.
The first task entrusted to him for ten days was to train Baduk (Go) instructors.
Since it is a completely barren land for Baduk, the country needed a 'teacher' first. Twelve people completed the Baduk education from Kim and they plan to produce 20 disciples in the future, increasing the Baduk player population.
Kim taught them the concept, technique, and real game of Baduk for six hours a day.
Students were exempted from all expenses such as airfare and hotel accommodation. The distribution of their occupations varied, including elementary school teachers, former chess champions, and employees of the Ministry of National Defense in their early 20s to 50s.
Kim said, “Saudi's enthusiasm for Baduk (Go) is amazing. Before I arrived, they even made their own textbooks. They put a lot of effort into the introductory search made by beginners.”
He said that he also discussed Baduk exchange plans with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) two years ago, but it was suspended due to the spread of the corona virus.
“I show a video that says Saudi Arabia will be in a few years, but at first I thought it was too bluffing. After a few days of looking around, I was amazed at the scale and luxury many times,” said Kim.