Jim Paek given extension to continue growing South Korea’s hockey program

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Jim Paek will remain behind the bench of South Korea’s men’s national team for the next three years, the Korea Ice Hockey Association announced on Thursday.

As part of his duties, Paek will also remain in the role as the KIHA’s national team director, overseeing the women’s national team, the men’s U-20 side and the U-18 men’s and women’s teams.

Hired in 2014 ahead of the PyeongChang Olympics this past February, Paek helped overhaul the country’s hockey program, which resulted in a jump in the IIHF rankings from No. 23 to No. 16 and promotion into the top division of the World Championship following a second place finish at the 2017 Division I – Group A tournament. Korea was relegated back to the second division following a winless showing at the 2018 tournament.

[Jim Paek helping lead the growth of hockey in South Korea]

During this year’s Winter Olympics, Paek’s side went winless, but put up an inspiring effort, leading to an emotional send-off after their final game against Canada.

Investment into the country’s hockey program has seen an increase in participation at all levels. Having the men’s and women’s teams as part of the 2018 Olympics will certainly only help raise the profile of the sport in South Korea and lead to even bigger numbers down the line.

The goal now for the men’s program is to gain promotion back into the top-flight of the World Championship and work their way towards qualifying for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“We have to stay (in the top division) to continue our development. That’s our goal,” Paek told Yonhap News Agency in April before the Worlds. “To play at a high level, you have to challenge yourselves in order to get better.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy