SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — In the giddy moments after South Korea won the Little League World Series, outfielder Don Wan Sin realized how he wanted to celebrate.
“I want to go to the Blue House — the White House of Korea — and meet the President,” Sin said, breaking up his teammates.
Just maybe Sin, who scored twice and hit a solo homer, will indeed get his wish to meet Park Geun-hye.
He’s famous back in his homeland — along with all of his teammates.
Jae Yeong Hwang drove in two runs and combined with Hae Chan Choi, who weathered a late Chicago rally, to lead the Asia-Pacific Region champions to an 8-4 win in Sunday’s LLWS championship game.
Hwang, who was removed because he wasn’t feeling well, gave up one hit in two-plus innings while striking out four. He also drove in his team’s first two runs as they built an 8-1 lead before Jackie Robinson West made it close.
“I’m very joyful. It’s a wonderful feeling,” Hwang said. “I don’t know why I’m even here; I didn’t play very good today.”
Choi, who had a homer and scored twice, pitched the last four innings for South Korea, which won its third title after back-to-back championships in 1984 and ‘85.
But even he got a little nervous at the end after Chicago collected four of its six hits and scored three times.
“I knew I could allow some runs,” he said. “After I got the second out, I thought I could do it. But after I gave up the three runs I was (worried).”
International teams have won the last three and four of the last five titles.
Brandon Green went 5 2-3 innings for Chicago, which had survived four straight knockout games before the final.
After the final out, a force play, the Seoul team’s bench emptied and the players dumped cups of water on their teammates near the mound. The players took a victory lap, waving and laughing.
The win meant a lot to the people of South Korea, who had to watch it or get updates in the middle of the night.
“We know the time difference and that a lot of people were cheering for us,” said manager Jong Wook Park. “We appreciate the people back in Korea. I told the kids that in a speech.”
The game was played in bright sunshine and temperatures in the high 70s before a crowd of 28,671 at Lamade Stadium.
South Korean fans, brightly dressed in flowing satin robes of yellow and electric blue, danced with large fans in the latter innings.
Chicago, the Great Lakes Region champions, came back from 3-0 and 5-4 deficits to beat favored West champ Las Vegas Mountain Ridge 7-5 in the U.S. title game on Saturday. Earlier, South Korea, the Asia-Pacific Region winner, rolled over Japan, 12-3.
But they couldn’t come back against the powerful South Koreans, who asserted themselves early.