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Lion King memorabilia pulls in Samsung fans

Oct 10,2017
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Visitors take photos of AllforSkin Dermatology Clinic head doctor Min Pok-kee’s collection of some 600 objects that used to belong to Korean baseball legend Lee Seung-yuop. Lee, known as the Lion King, retired on Oct. 3. [ALLFORSKIN DERMATOLOGY CLINIC]
Fans of Korean baseball legend Lee Seung-yuop, known as the Lion King, are flocking to a dermatology clinic in Daegu to take a look at the head doctor’s collection of some 600 objects that used to belong to Lee, including his shoes, baseballs, bats, and even his socks and underwear.

“This is it,” said two high school students wearing baseball caps, as they entered the building where AllforSkin Dermatology Clinic is located in Daegu on Oct. 2, just the day before Lee’s retirement.

Arriving at the clinic, they walked past the registration desk into the waiting room and started taking selfies in front of the collection dedicated to Lee.

They were soon joined by a woman in her 20s and an elementary school student who started taking selfies in front of the collection as well.

The 36 square-meter (387 square-foot) area of the clinic holds some 600 objects that belonged to Lee: that glove that he used in 2012 when he received the Korean Series MVP award; the bats, shoes and sunglasses he used when he was playing for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan; the uniforms, helmets and caps he wore during his time at the Samsung Lions; and even socks and underwear.

“Some dozens were donated by Lee, and the rest I found by asking around or bought at auctions,” said Min Pok-kee, the head doctor of AllforSkin Dermatology Clinic. “Recently, Darin Ruf and Lee Dae-ho of the Samsung Lions donated some signed baseballs, bats and gloves to the collection here.”

Some additional objects will be added to the collection this weekend, including a uniform from Lee’s last season with No. 36 on back, in commemoration of his retirement.

The clinic opened in 2013. It welcomes some 100 visitors a day who can come in to view the collection for free.

Min, who said he has been a fan of Lee from when he first joined the Samsung Lions in 1995, said that he made a suggestion to Lee about starting the collection at his clinic, but that Lee initially declined the idea.

Min said he got to know Lee in 1999, after they were introduced through Lee’s father.

Min said he was able to convince Lee to donate to the collection after telling him that it could help boost tourism in Daegu and do some good for society.

“It’s uncommon to find museums started by ordinary citizens in Korea, whereas you see many museums and tourist spots developed by ordinary people or companies abroad,” Min said. “I hope to preserve the collection well, for it is the footprint of a sportsman in Korea.”

Lee began his career with the Samsung Lions in 1995. During his 15 seasons in the Korea Baseball Organization he hit 467 home runs and collected 1,498 runs batted in (RBI). He played for the Lions from 1995 to 2003, returning to the team in 2012 after spending a few years in Japan.

BY KIM YOUN-HO [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]