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[Herald Interview] B-boy Leon to battle for world title at 2022 Asian Games
Country’s top B-boy to represent Korea as part of national team as breaking becomes medal sportBy Jie Ye-eun
Published : Dec. 6, 2021 - 17:20
Kim Jong-ho, better known as B-boy Leon, has qualified as one of the four breakers who will represent South Korea in the upcoming 2022 Asian Games. Although Kim has already bagged numerous trophies at various international competitions, gaining a spot on the country’s first-ever breaking team for the continental multisport competition is a “thrilling life event.”
“It is such an honor to become (Korea’s) first national breaker. But at the same time, I feel a strong sense of duty and responsibility to achieve an outstanding result since I’ll be there not only as B-boy Leon but also as a national athlete wearing a Taeguk flag,” he said during an interview with The Korea Herald at the studio of his dance crew, Fusion MC, located in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province.
“Originated in New York City during the late 1960s and early 1970s, breaking enjoyed its heyday in Korea in the 2000s. Back then, dancers showed off their jaw-dropping performances and dominated world stages. Korean b-boys are still known as some of the world’s best dancers, although breaking’s popularity across the country has gradually diminished since 2010,” he said.
Over his 17-year breaking career, Kim has won several local and international competitions, including the 2018 Red Bull BC One Korea Cypher and the 2018 Bucheon B-boy International Championships. As a national representative, he participated in the 2015 Red Bull BC One World Final and won the Asia-Pacific final at the competition as well.
But he could not have imagined breaking becoming an official medal event at the Asian Games and Olympics. “We often talked half-jokingly that if breaking becomes an Olympic sport, it would be a big hit,” Kim said.
The inaugural Breaking Project Korea, the three-round tournament held from July to November, gave Kim a ticket to the Hangzhou Asian Games. He appeared to be out of the running after the early rounds of the competition, but managed to enter the finals even with a back injury. He eventually won the final round, and took first place by earning the most points in the overall tournament.
While he has yet to fully recover, the dancer is busy preparing for another global breaking competition set to take place in Russia this weekend. Kim’s dance crew is the only Asian team that has been invited by the organizer, he added.
With the number of both domestic and global breaking competitions and events having been dramatically reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kim regrets missing opportunities to be on stage. Instead, he will be entering the Jincheon center, a training venue for Korean national team athletes, located in North Chungcheong Province, next year to undergo systematic training.
“Japanese dancers are good at individual competitions, rather than crew battles. Since they often begin learning breaking when they are in the lower grades of elementary school, they perform remarkably well in their 20s. Their breaking techniques are just stunning and make me speechless. ... Meanwhile, Chinese breakers lack creativity but they may have some advantage because they are hosting the event.”
Breaking is also slated to make its debut at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Just like other skillful breakers, Kim also aims to qualify for the event. Kim said it would be a huge honor for him to participate in the upcoming Olympic Games and he is determined to remain a national team breaker after gaining more experience in Hangzhou.
“B-boying is my life and vice versa. Even if I go through difficult times, I would stand firm and be positive to overcome the hardships. ... I hope to be a B-boy who can motivate and inspire others,” Kim said.
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Address by President Yoon Suk Yeol on the 105th March 1st Independence Movement Day