Korean Reaches UK Badminton Open Semis JANUARY 24, 2006 03:01 by Jong-Seok Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org) “I wanted to run around waving the Korean Flag,” said a visibly disappointed Lee Hyun-il (26, Gimcheon City Hall, photo), the men’s singles semifinalist at the All England Open Badminton Championships. In an interview after his defeat in the men’s final on January 23 in Birmingham, Lee admitted that he was thinking about his victory celebration on his way to the final match from his hotel. “I wasn’t nervous,” Lee said. “I didn’t want to leave any regrets, but he was too fast.” Lee is the oldest member of the national badminton team participating in the championship, but he is still considered a member of Korean badminton’s next generation. He does not like rules; he likes his individuality. The national badminton team was in shock when he had his ears pierced two years ago. That sort of thing had never been done before. “Earrings or not, I’m good,” Lee said. Lee insisted on wearing his earrings to leave a strong impression on his fans. “I’m a real pro,” Lee said. “I work hard and play hard. I don’t need people letting me know what I need to do.” He missed the 2002 Busan Asia Games and took a two-month break due to a bungee-jumping injury. His attitude makes it easier for him to rebound from slumps. After failing to make the final 16 in the 2004 Athens Olympics, he quit playing for six months and gained eight kilograms in disappointment. But when he got back into badminton late last year, his game returned. Lee became the first Korean player to win the Indonesian Open last September, and he has been on a roll ever since. Aiming for the Gold in December- Lee’s next goal is to win a gold medal at the Doha Asia Games that will be held in Qatar in December. The closest Korea has ever gotten to winning an international badminton singles title were Seong Han-guk’s semi-final run in 1986, and Lee Gwang-jin and Park Seong-wu’s semi-final runs in 1996. “I don’t cut my fingernails before a big match. It’s time to cut them and regain some calm,” said Lee. Meanwhile, Lee became the first Korean-born silver medalist in the men’s All England Open Championships singles. Lee, ranked number five in the world, was beaten by number one-ranked Lin Dan of China, 0-2. The set scores were 7-15 and 7-15. Meanwhile, China’s duo of Gao Ling and Huang Sui won for the sixth straight year, sweeping medals in four categories out of five. Korea came home with a silver in the men’s singles and third place in the pair doubles and women’s doubles.