DEER ISLE—Dongyeong Kim traveled half-way around the world to settle on Deer Isle for the school year. The South Korean exchange student is a junior at Deer Isle-Stonington High School and has been a strong player on this year’s soccer team.
Kim covered left wing, but he can kick equally well with both feet, he said. When he first joined the team, he was concerned about not being fast enough, but teammate and senior Noah Davis spoke to the contrary: “He was out-running everyone on the team.”
While disappointed that the season is over—the Mariners fell 1-0 to Penobscot Valley High School in the preliminary play-off game on October 23—Kim was happy to have played with the team, he said.
And the team was happy to have had Kim on board.
Davis said Kim brought a lot of good passing to the team. While this is standard procedure in Korea—where the game moves faster and features much more lateral passing, Kim said—it was a welcome component for the Mariners, who were more accustomed to powering down the field, Davis said.
Kim also practiced the art of self-sacrifice, by “giving up an opportunity for someone else to get a better one,” Davis said.
Kim has played soccer since age 9, and while there is a tradition of seriousness regarding soccer in Korea, Kim has been focused on fun.
“He brought a lot of laughter, too,” Davis said of Kim’s effect on team morale.
Kim jumped right into life on the Island, having arrived just one day before the school year began, he said. While he is no stranger to travel—having visited Japan, Singapore and Australia—this is his first stay in the United States, he said. He keeps in regular touch with family through phone calls and messaging, he said.
Kim has enjoyed his time here so far. He likes the food on the Island, and he has done some Korean cooking for his host family, too, he said. He comes from a rural town himself, so there are familiar qualities to life on the Island.
At school, Kim likes math and language classes, and his favorite teacher is English teacher Kim Larsen, he said. He is the only exchange student at the school, but this does not bother him. The language barrier is the biggest challenge for Kim, but he is giving it his all. “He is working very hard,” Larsen affirmed.
Kim is considering trying out for the baseball team in the spring, he said. He will be on Deer Isle for the rest of the school year before heading back to Korea in the summer.