Interview with Minjae Kim
Thu, 31/08/23, 09:20
Minjae Kim: I've followed FC Bayern since I was a child
Minjae Kim has been part of FC Bayern since mid-July and has settled in very well during his first few weeks with the German record champions. In an interview with the members' magazine "51", the defender talks about his home country South Korea, his role models at Bayern and his goals for the upcoming season.
Interview with Minjae Kim
Minjae, can you please describe to the FC Bayern fans how you grew up - for many people, South Korea is far away...
"Servus, I'd love to: I grew up in Tongyeong, a port city with about 140,000 inhabitants on the south coast of South Korea, about a three-hour drive from the capital Seoul. There's even a German village near Tongyeong, it's called Dogil Maeul - with an Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, I haven't been there yet, but I would like to go one day. Since Tongyeong is by the sea, the sea has always been an important part of my life and my family."
How did you get into football?
"I was fascinated by football very early on. I have to say that I was always a child who wanted to keep moving. Sitting at home was not my thing - and that's when football, with its high running intensity, struck me as just the thing. First I was a striker, and when I was 12 or 13 I found that I enjoyed winning tackles and helping my team out in defence even more. I enjoyed giving my all on the pitch all the time. So one day I asked my parents for permission to play football, and since they're both very sporty themselves, they had no objections. I may not have been the most talented to start with, but I kept trying very hard. I always wanted to realise my dream and today I'm very happy that my journey led me to FC Bayern via China, Turkey and Naples."
When did you first hear about FC Bayern?
"We watched football matches from all over the world on TV, right from when I was a little kid - and there were always FC Bayern matches on too. FC Bayern is one of the biggest clubs in the world and very popular in South Korea. I've always watched FC Bayern - but if someone had told me back then that one day I would wear this jersey, I would never have thought it possible, of course. It's a huge honour. I'm living a big dream and I know I have to give everything every day to make sure it lasts."
You're well acquainted with the club's history - you name Franz Beckenbauer and Lúcio as role models. What impresses you about these former FCB players?
"Both were exceptionally strong defenders and at the same time also had great qualities in building up play going forward. I try to integrate these attributes into my game. What impresses me most about both of them is that they played at the very highest level for a very long time - and were central figures at FC Bayern for a very long time. If I could do that here, too, I'd be very happy."
You used to train like Rocky Balboa, pulling car tyres up a hill...
"(laughs) Yes, back then I had the feeling that I had to get faster. So I dragged those tyres behind me. Maybe it was too hard a measure, but I really wanted to get results. I don't know if it helped - but it probably didn't hurt. It's important to me to this day that I'm always open to trying new things and testing my own methods."
Is that part of your mentality - to always want to learn more?
"My parents taught me that you can and should always keep learning, no matter how old you are. Otherwise you don't develop. I observe my colleagues, I observe the people around me and I move through the world with my eyes open. That's part of my character."
What did you take away from your time in China, Turkey and Naples?
"In China I came up against really strong strikers - I was able to improve my one-on-one skills. In Turkey, they often employed spatial defending, which helped me in that respect: when do you drop back, when do you get forward? In Naples, both options were required because Italy is very flexible tactically. I was able to implement my game there. At the time, the coach also demanded that I get involved in attack. That season in Serie A was the best test of stamina so far: The level in the league is high, the World Cup last December meant we almost permanently had weeks including midweek games and had to stay permanently focused. The fact that we became champions made me very proud."
How was your time in Turkey - the first time you were really far away from home?
"Homesickness was never an issue for me. I like to be alone and concentrate on the here and now. It also helped that my wife and child went with me. They're now here with me in Munich. The family gives me support and peace. That's where I draw a lot of my strength. Family stands for stability."
What are your goals at FC Bayern?
"I'm currently focusing on one single goal: Being able to be on the pitch in every game. Feel free to ask me again in January, then we can talk about new goals!"
The extended interview (in German) can be found in the new issue of the FC Bayern members' magazine "51".