The Chicago Cubs continue to dominate the Far East international free agent market. Going back to the days of Hee Seop Choi, the Cubs have clearly made inroads in South Korea, and aren’t giving up any time soon.

Yesterday, the Cubs signed 18-year-old pitcher Kim Jin-Yeong tor a whopping $1.2 million bonus, making him – by my quick mental count – the highest paid international signee in Cubs history. He reportedly hits 92 on the gun, and is just out of high school.

He’ll join other Korean prospect studs in the Cubs’ system, including shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and pitcher Dae-Eun Rhee, both of whom make me think the new kid’s name is probably Jin-Yeong Kim, as opposed to Kim Jin-Yeong. But we stick with the reported ordering for now.

Another interesting side note to the impact of Korean culture on these signings – that is to say, another, in addition to the ordering of names –  in South Korea, my understanding is that kids are typically considered age “one” at birth. So a kid who we’d say is 17 would be said to be 18 in Korea. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but this could impact these signings in the opposite way that signings out of the Dominican Republic turn out to be surprises – some of the Korean prospects could actually be younger than we think.

  • KevinG

    I love all this Korean signnings, there seem to be some real talent there. Ace do you have anymore information on him as far as other pitches?

    • Ace

      None, I’m sorry to say. My guess is, since he’s so young, the Cubs are just projecting his success based on the high-velocity fastball. He can develop other pitches from there when he comes over to the States.

      • Jeff

        hey Ace…friend in Korea says he’s 511, and 185lbs. he just saw him throw in a local HS tournament. last game was 136-142 Km/H which I’m guessing is about 84-88MPH. he said his slider was his best pitch but was little wild overall. when i told him he signed for 1.2 he was shocked. he said he always thought MLB teams payed for more present stuff. I have no idea but it makes sense.

        • Ace

          The Cubs obviously believe he’s a huge talent. For that kind of money, he should be a top ten Cubs prospect almost immediately.

    • Jeremy

      Name would be Jin-Yeong Kim … In Korea the Sir name is always the first one said and they do not refer to one another by “name”, usually sir name unless your great friends…

      As for age issue, I have lived in Korea for two years and I have yet to figure this one out. To end the speculation the answer is YES, once born Koreans think they are “one”. I say i have not figured it out because I have come across people that seem to think they are 2 years older based on some strange standard I have yet to figure out. This standard “I THINK” is based on the month born…. However Koreans report the date of birth as the actual date, so i would assume when asked to see some form of ID or birth record the correct year is listed, not to add a year..
      Korean born on 1 Jan 2000 considers him/herself to be 11 years old as of 22 Feb 2010. However a Korean born 1 December 2000, may consider him/herself to be 12 years old based on todays date of 22 Feb, you can see where it becomes an difficult to figure. However each of the two examples above would still have a 2000 birthdate listed on government id/records, so i do not think we will see any Korean players lose age over the years.. :)… great information by the way, I enjoyed reading it….

      • Ace

        Outstanding, Jeremy. Thanks for the info. Not only did it provide me more background, it helped confirm that I know everything. :)

  • Paul

    I’m a Korean Canadian born here in Canada but from what my parents tell me and from what my family in Korea have told me, they do count the months you spend in the womb as a year. i was always told that I’d be a year older in Korea but for official government uses, documents, and legal procedures, the western age system is used. In Korea regulations regarding age limits on alcohol and tobacco use, as well as the age of consent, are all based on the Western system.

    When people think they’re two years older it has to do with the lunar calendar and the Lunar New Year not the Gregorian Calendar system we go by… Dunno… Go Cubs!

  • cubsfankorea

    I know bonus is not 1.2M. I am good friend with Jin-young. He said 850,000. I very happy with Korean go to USA but why Cubs have to lie about signing bonus. I don’t understand. Maybe they want to show they have money. Anyway good luck to JY. Go Cubs. soon we will have all-Korean member team!!

    • Ace

      I don’t know, CFK. The signing was just made official this week, and the bonus was again reported as $1.2 mill.

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