Michigan native chases Olympic dream with S. Korean hockey team

South Korean hockey coach Jim Paek and his family

<<Click or tap here to watch Jack Dole’s story on Jim Paek>>

Jim Paek’s ultimate dream is to be a head coach in the National Hockey League. But his current gig isn’t bad.

Paek, who is currently South Korea’s hockey coach, uprooted his family from Michigan to chase his Olympic dream.

While he says what’s most important is being with family, it wasn’t that way at first.

When he took the job in South Korea four years ago, Paek’s family stayed back in Michigan so he could focus on coaching and raising the level of the Korean hockey program.

“It was hard,” Paek said. “[An] absolutely hard decision.”

It has helped that the family has adapted to their new surroundings.

“When you first start off, you miss home and then there is the language barrier,” said Kyler, Paek’s son. “But I’m used to people not understanding me.”

It also helps that Paek is in the middle of the biggest sporting even in the world. And his family will have a front-row seat to watch him walk in the opening ceremony.

“I’m really excited to see everything, because I’ve only seen it on TV,” said Paek’s daughter, Megan.

It will be especially meaningful for Paek, whose father, Pong Hyun, was born and raised in South Korea. They shared some great moments during Paek’s playing career – like when he got to hoist the Stanley Cup after becoming the first Korean to win it with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sadly Paek’s father passed away in 2012.

Otherwise, Paek’s part in the 2018 Olympics would have ranked right up there with his momentous NHL experience.

“[My father and I] had a lot of conversations about representing Korea and being a part of this,” Paek said.

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