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South Korea has long been a powerhouse in doubles badminton. With two Olympic gold medals in the men’s doubles event and one in women’s doubles, the pressure is on for every South Korean duo looking to make a mark domestically and internationally. In 2020, one women’s doubles pair was dubbed the next up-and-coming duo to bring pride to the country. And this pair is none other than Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan.
Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan are one of the most promising young talents to watch out for. The young South Korean duo is famous for their victories in several high-profile World Tour tournaments, including the 2020 Badminton World Federation (BWF) Tour Finals. They won several titles as a pair and with other partners in the BWF Grand Prix, Superseries, and International Series. The pair has climbed the upper echelons of the World Rankings, securing the World Number Two spot on December 21, 2021. Unlike most successful South Korean pairings, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan are unique in that they’ve played together since their junior careers. In fact, the pair foreshadowed their future success by capturing the World Junior Championships together in 2011 and 2012.
Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan may just be the next biggest thing in women’s doubles badminton. Let’s dive into this pair’s early lives, achievements, and senior success in my latest installment of player profiles!
Lee So-Hee’s Early Life and Junior Debut
Lee So Hee was born on June 14, 1994. A native of Seoul, South Korea, the young Lee So Hee enjoyed frequent exposure to nearly every sport a child can be exposed to. As an active child, she dabbled in various sports that appealed to her young inclinations.
As time passed, her teacher noticed her sporty proclivities. Her teacher then recommended badminton. Trying the sport, the young Lee So-Hee showed promising skill. The sport was just the outlet she needed. It wasn’t long before she began playing competitively.
Lee So Hee made her junior debut at the age of 16. Her first tournament was the 2010 Korea Super Series, where she competed in the doubles event with Choi Hye In. Despite being an unseeded pair, the duo advanced as far as the quarterfinals, losing to Ha Jung Eun and Lee Kyung Won.
Less than a month later, Lee and Choi competed at the 2010 BWF World Junior Championships. The pair’s results improved as they breezed through the girl’s doubles event to reach the semis. At the end of the tournament, Lee and Choi bagged bronze.
Shin Seung-Chan’s Early Life and Junior Debut
On December 6, 1994, Shin Seung Chan was born just a few months after her future women’s doubles partner. She was born in Jeollabuk-do, South Korea, where she spent the vast majority of her childhood.
Shin attended Gochang Elementary School, located in the Northern part of her hometown. The school had an active junior badminton program — one that Shin became fascinated with.
When her parents saw the program, they immediately allowed Shin Seung Chan to join. In an interview with the BWF, Shin Seung Chan attributes her early badminton start to her parent’s support.
When she turned 10, she began playing competitively in local inter-school tournaments. After six years, she tried her hand at high-level competition, debuting as a junior player at the 2010 BWF World Junior Championships. Coincidentally, it was the same tournament Lee So Hee bagged her first bronze medal in.
The young Shin Seung Chan partnered with Kim Chan Mi for the girl’s doubles event. Unfortunately, the pair made it no further than the round of 32 stages, losing to Denmark’s Sandra-Maria Jensen and Line Kjaersfeldt.
Lee So-Hee and Shin Seung-Chan’s Junior Success
After the 2010 BWF World Junior Championships, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan parted ways with their partners. It wasn’t long until the South Korean National Team coach paired the two young shuttlers.
Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan’s pairing was put to the test at the 2010 Victor Korea Open Grand Prix. The newly formed duo of Lee and Shin entered as an unseeded pair. Nevertheless, the partnership seemed promising as the two breezed through the event to reach to semifinals. The pair lost to their compatriots Eom Hye Won and Kim Ha Na. Despite that, Shin and Lee did fairly well during their first outing.
Lee and Shin played together for much of 2010. Unfortunately, the pair had yet to bring home their first girl’s doubles title.
All that would change in 2011. At the 2011 BWF World Junior Championships, Lee and Shin entered unseeded. The pair got past the round of 64 stages on a bye. From there, they dominated the girl’s doubles event to reach the finals for the first time in their careers.
Awaiting the young duo in the finals were Indonesia’s Shela Devi Aulia and Anggia Shitta Awanda. Both teams snagged one game apiece, forcing the match into a third game. After the 50th minute, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan emerged victorious, winning their first junior title.
Later in 2011, the World Junior Champions competed in their first International Series tournament despite being junior players. At the 2011 Turkey International, Lee and Shin advanced to the semis to face their compatriots Choi A Reum and Yoo Hyun Young.
Lee and Shin lost to their compatriots. But they won the bronze qualifying match to win bronze in their first International Series outing.
In 2012, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan qualified for the Badminton Asia Youth Championships. At the 2012 Badminton Asia Youth Championships, they reached the finals to face China’s Yu Xiao Han and Huang Ya Quiong.
Lee and Shin lost the first game 21-17. But, they rallied from behind to secure a second-game victory. With victory in sight, Lee and Shin won the third game 21-17 to win the tournament.
Three months later, Lee and Shin set out to defend their World Junior titles at the 2012 World Junior Championships. The World Junior and Asia Youth Champions advanced to the finals to face Yu Xiao Han and Huang Ya Quiong again.
And shades of their previous encounter, Lee and Shin defeated their Chinese opponents to defend their World Junior Championship titles.
With two months left in their junior careers, they competed in their first International Series events. The first International Series competition the duo participated in was the 2012 Iceland International. There, they breezed to the finals where they faced their compatriots Go Ah Ra and Yoo Chae Ran.
In straight sets, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan defeated their teammates, winning their first International Series title.
Confident in their Iceland International victory, they capped their junior careers off with another International Series title victory. Lee and Shin won their second International series title after defeating hometown favorites Aparna Balan and Reddy Sikki at the 2012 Open India International Challenge.
2013 to 2014: Senior Debut and Split
Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan debuted as senior players in 2013. Lee and Shin kicked their senior careers off with a performance at the 2013 Swiss Open. At the tournament, the new senior pair dominated the women’s doubles event to reach the finals. In the finals, the pair faced their compatriots Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na.
Despite putting up a fight early on, Lee and Shin lost in straight sets. Nevertheless, they walked away with their first silver medals.
Since the Swiss Open, results grew dismal for the new senior pair. Luckily, they bounced back six months later after being runners-up at the 2013 Chinese Taipei Open.
Podium finishes once again became few and far between following the Chinese Taipei Open. In 2014, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan returned, learning from the mistakes of the previous year.
Lee and Shin commenced their 2014 campaign at the German Open. At the 2014 German Open, the duo made it as far as the quarterfinals before losing again to Jung Kyung Eun and Kim Ha Na.
Lee and Shin would bow out early in many of their 2014 tournaments. But all that changed in November 2014 at the 2014 Korea Grand Prix.
At the tournament, Lee and Shin advanced to the finals for the first time in 2014. In the finals, they faced fellow South Koreans Chang Ye Na and Yoo Hae Won.
Lee and Shin dominated the first game to outscore their opponents by more than seven points. 15 minutes into the match, injury and fatigue took their toll on Chang and Yoo. Chang and Yoo bowed out, resulting in Lee and Shin winning their first senior title.
Separation Between 2015 and 2017
After 2014, Badminton Korea decided to separate Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan. The separation was due in part to Badminton Korea’s preparation for the 2016 Olympics. So between 2015 and 2017, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan played with different partners, both experiencing success in Grand Prix and Superseries tournaments.
Shin Seung Chan played alongside Jung Kyung Eun. Together, the pair won four Grand Prix titles and two Superseries titles.
Meanwhile, Lee So Hee partnered with Chang Ye Na to win a Grand Prix title and two Superseries titles.
Following a bronze medal finish at the 2017 BWF World Championships, the pair won their first Superseries title. At the 2017 Denmark Open, they defeated Japan’s Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yunemoto in straight sets.
With the Korea Masters Victory, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan ended 2017 on a high note.
World Tour Success
When 2018 rolled in, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan had amassed enough points to qualify for the BWF World Tour. They kicked off their World Tour campaign at the 2018 Malaysia Masters. Despite losing to Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen, Lee and Shin carried on their World Tour quest with tenacity and determination.
These qualities materialized in November at the 2018 Fuzhou China Open. At the tournament, Lee and Shin dominated the women’s doubles event to face Japan’s Wakana Nagahara and Mayu Matsumoto in the finals. In straight sets, Lee and Shin won the match to take home their first World Tour title.
In 2019, Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan won another title at the French Open. At the 2019 French Open, the pair defeated Kim So Yeong and Kong Hee Yong in straight sets to win a second World Tour title.
Like their previous encounters, Lee and Shin proved themselves to be the superior women’s doubles pair. Winning the match, Lee and Shin walked away the World Tour Finals Champions.
The two teams faced off again later in 2021 in the finals of the French Open. Per usual, Lee and Shin defeated Kim and Kong to bag another World Tour title.
Players Idolized by Lee So-Hee and Shin Seung-Chan
Like many players, Lee So-Hee and Shin Seung Chan looked up to the sport’s greats. In an interview with the BWF, Lee disclosed that she idolized Ra Kyung Min. On the other hand, Shin Seung-Chan mentioned Lee Hyo Jung as the badminton player she looked up to.
Two Friends, One Goal
Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan are more than women’s doubles partners. In an article published by the Korea Herald, they’re “inseparable friends” with goals of success in their badminton careers.
Will they achieve their goal?
During their time together, they’ve won titles in the World Tour, Superseries, Grand Prix, and International Series. With achievements like these, it’s unfathomable to think that they can’t.
But it’s like I always say:
The only way to find out is to stay glued to the games and World Rankings!
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