A Korean invasion took place at the Toekomst on Monday morning. Hyun Jun Suk trained for the first time as an official member of Jong Ajax. The South Korean forward has a busy schedule in the Netherlands in the coming months.
Hyun Jun Suk isn’t lonely these days. Ajax’s new acquisition is surrounded by his countrymen, who are supporting him at every turn. After he enjoys his first lunch with his new Jong Ajax team mates, the second part of his day is about to start: interviews, and Dutch language lessons.
He speaks a few words of Dutch, but fortunately his translator, who also acts as his representative, is by his side. Korean is fluidly translated into Dutch, with the word “ArenA” popping up now and again in the steady stream of Korean. “I’ve given up everything in Korea to be able to succeed here”, emphasizes Suk during the interview, highlighting his ambition to do well with Ajax.
The tall Korean’s appearance was a striking one. Suk signed a contract at the beginning of October, binding him to Ajax from January 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. The agreement includes a one-sided option for an additional season. So far, nothing exceptional. Much more extraordinary is the way in which he arrived at Ajax. In mid 2009, the 18 year old Korean arrived in the Netherlands at haphazard, hoping to get a trial period to train with the team. After a failed attempt in England, he came to give it a try in the Netherlands on the advice of his former solicitor. He watched Ajax trainings, asked regularly if he could participate, and coach Martin Jol referred him on to Jong Ajax. After a few training sessions, he received an internship, and got the chance to prove himself in September. His mission succeeded, and resulted in a contract.
Suk reported for duty on New Year’s Day for the third time, this time for definite in the Netherlands. The forward has looked into staying with a host family. “It’s very important for me to learn Dutch as fast as possible”, he says, in Toekomst’s cafeteria. He has a Dutch lesson planned immediately after the interview, and his days in the coming months will consist mainly of training and language lessons. He shows that he already masters “Goedemorgen” (good morning), “Lekker” (delicious) and “Dankjewel” (thank you).
He tries to communicate as well as possible with his team mates and coaches Pieter Huistra and Fred Grim. “Fortunately, I can manage most of the exercises. But for new ones, I make sure that I’m not the first to go, so that I can watch what my team mates do. And it also helps that I have this contract now. The initial pressure of earning the contract is gone, and that makes it easier for me to seek out contact with my team mates.”
Suk is glad that his training internship has resulted in a contract with Ajax. “I’m very grateful to Pieter Huistra. He worked with me a lot during my internship, and he saw what I could do. He also made sure that Ajax knew about that. It’s a shame for me that he’s going to FC Groningen next season, although of course it’s a great thing for him.”
He’s clear about his goals with Ajax. “I’ll need to settle in here first, but after that, I hope to make it to the first team. It’s important that I train a lot and play games. I’m going to do everything I can to make this work.”