It was a warm day in March when we met InSec. The purpose of our meeting: to have one last interview before he retired. We greeted each other somewhat awkwardly since it was our first time meeting him outside of a stadium. After brushing off the awkward greeting, we made our way toward a nearby cafe.
We shared small talk as we walked down the street. Speaking to InSec in an informal context, he was more outgoing and talkative than we thought he’d be. He said that it’s been quite a long time since he got interviewed in South Korea - yet he didn’t seem nervous at all. By the time we reached the cafe, the atmosphere was much more comfortable and open.
We mulled over where to start while we were waiting for our coffee. I had been debating how to go about this interview a whole week prior, but still hadn’t found the right approach even as we sat down. In the end, I led with the most obvious question.
Why Did He Decide to Retire?
“Winners is a second league team. Our priority had to be a promotion to the first league. It’s a goal that we need to chase long term -- at least a year. Unfortunately, the circumstances did not let me be with the team during the process because of my military service. According to the Military Manpower Administration, I could be given an entry date for the military at any time. It was obvious that I could no longer continue my team life.
Of course, I feel regretful about this. I think there’s more regret since I wanted to do pro gaming in South Korea once more. I really enjoyed playing in the KeSPA Cup 2018 as a part of Winners. Playing the game while communicating in my own national language with 4 other Korean players just felt good. I still feel sorry about having to make this decision solely due to the circumstances rather than by my own will.
For now, I will be keeping my focus on streaming. I don’t have a fixed schedule for streaming yet but I plan on saying hello to my fans with regular streaming by expanding platforms soon. Though I don’t know if I will be good at streaming and if many people will come and watch since I am from the older generation for esports (Laughs)."
The Unfulfilled Dream of Winning the LCK, and Going to China
“I came up with 3 goals when I left CJ Entus, my first pro team. The first goal was to win against CJ Entus; the second goal was to make it to Worlds. I managed to accomplish these two goals but I couldn’t achieve my third goal, which was to win at the LCK. That is why I wanted to play in the national league even more.
The reason I went to China is simple. I was looking for a team in South Korea after leaving KT Rolster Bullets but things didn’t go well. That’s when Coach
There were many trials and errors since we were the very first foreign players to play in China. The biggest problem was communication. We first thought that there wouldn’t be any problem with communication as long as we could use simple English terms. However, we found out that China wasn’t a country where English was often used. I was worried but we already signed our contracts so we just left with the mindset, ‘Oh, well, things will somehow turn out fine in the end’ (Laughs)
The Story He Couldn’t Tell Back Then
“But then, things started to go downhill afterward; Uzi, who was our carry, transferred to OMG, our rival team, which left a hole in our team roster. We had to play with a roster we hastily came up with for the early season, which caused everyone on the team to become tilted. Then there was the accident you know about where my leg got hurt...
Like that, time passed without me developing any special career in China and I left for Europe in 2018. That wasn’t an easy decision to make. This may sound quite depressing so I am really wary of talking about it; I was told that my father had fallen ill early that year -- cancer.
I was the only one who could stay by his side, so I looked after him. Then there was a chance for me to play in Europe, even though it was in a second league. I thought that I couldn’t just stay in the hospital for months so I asked for my father’s permission and went to Europe at the end of March.
The results were great. We won. My schedule in Europe was completed, and I was supposed to return to South Korea when my father passed away on that very day. My plane ticket to South Korea was set to May 1st. But due to the airline’s mistake, I couldn’t board that plane and had to take the one on the next day. As if fate was punishing me, my father passed away on the early morning of May 1st, the day I couldn’t get on my plane
I thought that it was something unbelievable - something you’d only see in movies - yet it happened to me. I felt immensely guilty about not staying at his side, at his deathbed. I thought that this came to be because of my own greed. After that, I couldn’t bear to look at League of Legends at all. After his funeral, I literally did nothing but stay in my room.”
What Inspired Him to Stand up Again: Support & Cheers
“Then I got a call from someone I knew. It was a phone call asking me to come and join an event tournament held in August, Hong Kong. I could also feel the sincere concern that I couldn’t stay like that forever. I decided to give it a try since it was also a tournament where I could play against other retired players without much pressure.
It had been a while since I got to stand on a stage where the audience was a crowd. Once I stepped into the stadium, my past memories came back to me. The loud sound of cheers and support from my fans filled my ears, and the long-forgotten memories came flooding back all at once. That was when I thought that I wanted to start over again for the first time.
The Story InSec Wants to Tell His Fans
“Hello, this is InSec. I’m going to put an end to my long pro gaming career. It seems that there were so many incidents until now. I felt guilty about being a pro gamer at first when I started my gaming career with such a controversy, harming my team. I didn’t have any excuse so I only tried my best to do well and I started getting more and more compliments. This was what inspired me to keep going until now.
I wanted to play more in South Korea in the end but due to a harsh reality, here am I, saying my last farewell. But still, it was a great relief how I got to play in a national tournament, the KeSPA Cup, as a part of Winners in the end.
I’m streaming on KakaoTV from time to time. I’ll be expanding platforms and will return with more content so I hope you will come to see me. Thank you so much for staying with me during my long pro gaming career. I’ll see you all in my stream!”