By Kwon Mee-yoo
Diana Koszegi, 25, is a Hungarian who fell in love with baduk. Because of her love for it, she is now taking one step further into the professional world of the game.
The Korea Baduk Association promoted Koszegi from an amateur player to a professional 1st-dan on Jan. 4. That makes her the third European professional player registered with the association. The other two players, Alexandre Dinerstein and Svetlana Shikshina are both from Russia. The association promoted her so she can contribute to an increasing number of baduk players in Europe.
Koszegi first learned baduk by looking over her father's shoulder as he played the game. Her father was an amateur player teaching her older brother how to play the game. ``At first, he did not teach me because I was a woman. But I learned it very quickly and then he taught me everything he knew,'' said Koszegi in an interview with The Korea Times at a baduk club in southern Seoul.
Sweeping championships in Hungary and Europe, Koszegi participated in an amateur championship in Japan in 1998 and received offers from the Japanese and Chinese governing councils to study baduk there. However, she was too young and her family held her back.
Koszegi visited Korea in January 2004 after an invitation from a baduk club, but stayed only three months due to her visa status. Later, her dream of studying the game came true when she was accepted to the Baduk Department of Myongji University in 2005. At school, she not only played baduk games but also learned about the history of, and the psychology behind playing the game. She will be a senior this coming March.
While living in Korea for three years, she speaks Korean very well and likes Korean food very much. ``I think Korea is the best place to learn Baduk for Europeans, because Koreans are so passionate. We are somewhat similar,'' she said.
She usually spends some 12 hours studying the game. She plays games with other students, reconstructs famous games and memorizes strategies. ``The best thing about belonging to a club is that I can play all day long,'' said Koszegi.
After being promoted to a professional player, Koszegi became much busier. This baduk-maiden is both excited and worried. She is excited that she can play with professionals and learn from them. Yet at the same time, her recent fame leaves her with insufficient time for practice.
``I like baduk because it is difficult. I have played it for more than 10 years, but it's still difficult. That's why I like it,'' she said.