15 de junio de 2024

Rookie might leave LPL to complete korean military service

Rookie, midlaner for TES, could have to return to Korea to fulfill mandatory military service.

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The Korean midlaner Song «Rookie» Eui-jin has been competing since 2014 in the League of Legends Pro League (LPL), the top Chinese competition for League of Legends. Although this tenure might seem sufficient, obtaining the famous Green Card in China is very challenging. In case of failure, the 2018 world champion might have to return to Korea to fulfill mandatory military service.

Rookie has been a LPL Resident since December 22, 2021. However, this is a mere regulation by Riot Games to favor the conditions of players who have been competing in the same region for a long time and cease to be considered imports. In the Korean player’s case, the moment was bound to arrive sooner or later, considering he has been a crucial part of the league for almost 10 years and a key member of the first Chinese team to win the world championship, Invictus Gaming.

However, obtaining permanent Chinese residency is a different matter. Not even Doinb, the first Korean player to obtain LPL Residency, currently possesses it. Although it seems likely that he will acquire it before turning 28, the maximum age for avoiding mandatory military service in Korea. But Rookie’s conditions are somewhat different.

According to Article 6 of the Administrative Measures for the Examination and Approval of Permanent Residence for Foreigners in China, foreigners applying for permanent residence in China must comply with Chinese laws, be in good health, have no criminal record, and meet one of the following conditions:

  • (1) Direct investment in China, stable investment for three consecutive years, and a good tax record.
  • (2) Having held the position of deputy general manager or deputy factory director or higher, or having the title of associate professor or associate researcher or higher, enjoying the same treatment, having held the position for four consecutive years, having resided in China for an accumulated period of no less than three years within four years, and having a good tax payment record.
  • (3) Making significant and outstanding contributions to China and having special state needs.
  • (4)Spouses of individuals mentioned in points (1), (2), and (3) of this paragraph and their unmarried children under 18.
  • (5) The spouse of a Chinese citizen or a foreigner who has obtained permanent residency in China, being married for at least five years, continuously residing in China for at least five years, and having a stable livelihood and residence guarantee.
  • (6) Unmarried children under 18 dependent on their parents.
  • (7) Having no direct line relatives abroad, seeking refuge with direct line relatives in China, being 60 years old, residing in China for five consecutive years, residing in China for no less than nine months each year, and having a stable life and residence.

The interpretation of the law is obscure, and although it is not clear whether it is necessary to meet all the conditions described above (the paragraph states «meet one of the following conditions»), the institution itself often tends to view positively meeting as many requirements as possible, and sometimes, their arbitrariness decides.

In the event that the need to be married to your spouse for at least 5 years is binding (5), Rookie would have a serious problem. The midlaner has been in a public relationship with Hilda, a well-known LPL host, for several years, but they are not married. If they had been, the process would have been significantly easier. However, Doinb did marry Umi in 2018, and it is precisely now when the 5 years of marriage are being fulfilled.

The Chinese community tends to doubt at this point the possibility of Rookie and Hilda getting married (culturally, it is quite common to marry young), and rumors speak of a «convenience relationship» from which both parties benefit. It is an increasingly clear possibility for many people that Rookie will return to his homeland at some point and not intend to have a long-term life in China, which could also be hindering his access to the Green Card.

On the other hand, in 2021 Rookie opened his own Korean food restaurant in Shanghai, and what at first glance might seem like a mere act of personal preference now makes us wonder if it has something to do with the first requirement (1), as a business open to the public would generate a direct source of income in China. All of this is mere speculation, but in this controversial hemisphere, all points must be explored.

All these questions have increased doubts about Rookie’s departure from the LPL and even his retirement. However, it would be expected that the TOP ESPORTS organization or the LPL itself is actively in contact with the Shanghai government to facilitate the selection process since exceptions are common in legislative matters. One of them could be an eligibility bonus for being a high-income individual.

The most striking case is that of Eileen Gu, an American-born Olympic athlete who obtained dual nationality, but apparently, the fact that her mother was Chinese had more influence than her athletic achievements.

As of today, it seems that the midlaner is on a rigorous crusade to obtain his Green Card, and while the chances do not seem excessively high, let’s not speak with defeatism either. We are still awaiting the final verdict, which will determine whether we can continue to enjoy the iconic player in China or if, on the contrary, he will return to Korea to fulfill military service and possibly retire afterward.