4 years ago, Seung-Hyun 'Space' Park passed away.
A tribute to the Korean player was released as a poem in Korea this month.
The poem is titled "There was one professional Warcraft 3 gamer" and was written by Chan-Ik, ‘Charles’ Hwang.
From this, we looked for another article that was published in the Yeongnam Daily Newspaper on August 29th 2008. This newspaper is read in Daegu city, where Space used to live. It's named "I want to live just until I am 30 years old".
Space passed away at age 25,
and to this day, he is still teaching us a lesson of life.
Chan-Ik, ‘Charles’ Hwang, ThisIsgame, July 11th, 2017,
Kyubin, 'Icarus' Choi - translation
Original article on this link.
This article is originally written in a Korean Webzine, 'ThisIsGame' and translated with the permission of the original writer. All rights reserved to 'ThisIsGame'.
There was a professional gamer.
He played Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne. He played the Undead race.
He did not win every tournaments. Everyone was mesmerized, however, by his plays.
They wanted to see more of his game, even for just a little longer.
Because he did not have much time left.
He had an incurable disease.
Seung-Hyun Park, also known as Go)Space, was in a condition in which his muscles cease to function little by little, due to a disease known as muscular dystrophy.
He had to move by a wheelchair.
A patron had to place his arm and adjust his chair for him to play a single game.
Muscular dystrophy only gets worse as it goes.
Park could only move his fingers and neck by the time he became professional WC3 gamer, 2008.
We did love him and the way he plays WC3, not because of shallow sympathy.
Undead players were having miserable time in competitive matches.
Some even argued that power balance between races were poorly designed for Orcs and Night elves were simply too powerful while only a few Undead players were having favorable result.
Seung-Hyun Park, a new Undead player in the darkest time, showed absolutely amazing performance.
He became famous for he was one of a few Undead players who was able to triumph over Orc and not only ordinary Orc players. He managed to eliminate Lyn, who won Blizzcon 2008 and is still regarded as the best Orc player in whole Warcraft 3 history.
In Warcraft 3, you can set your army to hotkeys, from ‘1’ to ‘10’ on your keyboard. What is really astonishing is Park could only use from ‘1’ to ‘4’ on his keyboard.
Regardless of multiple handicaps, it is ironic that most players considered that Park’s real strength is his micro. With his razor-sharp skills, he succeeded in building incredible career path as follows.
NicegameTV GWL Season1, 1st place
NicegameTV AWL Season1, 4th
NicegameTV AWL Season3, 2nd
NicegameTV AWL King of Kings 4th
Afreeca Warcraft League (AWL) 4th
Afreeca Warcraft League (AWL) 3 2nd
ZotacCup 55th, 70th, 78th 1st
He was once called ‘Last Undead’, for he was the only Undead who qualified to the top-tier tournaments and competed with Orcs on the same level. But as the disease deteriorates, hotkeys that he could use reduced from four to three, and two. In addition, Warcraft tournaments became less popular in Korea. For all of those reasons, Park decided to stop participating in Tournaments.
He once said in an interview, “I want to live just till 30, not more.”
The interviewer asked why.
He answered, “Because my life will be too tough, when I can’t play games anymore.”
His soul, trapped in his body suffering from muscular dystrophy, became free only when he met Warcraft 3.
He continued to play other games including Starcraft 2 or League of legends till his last days.
At 6th of May, 2013, he passed away after 15 years of fighting, 7 years of competitive play of Warcraft 3. He was only 25 years old.
What his career would be, if he was not physically challenged? Or how many matches or stories he would’ve left us, if he was able to stay with us a little bit longer.
How many times Park asked himself the same question we have now.
How much he wanted to ‘live.’
His ID was ‘SPACE’ for he wanted to travel whole universe free.
I hope he is able to do whatever he dreamed of, for he is now free from suffering.
You are and always will be my favorite professional gamer.
Chan-Ik, ‘Charles’ Hwang
Go)Space highlights, including his victory over Lyn during AWL S1
Yeongnam Daily Newspaper
August 29th, 2008
Space, the day of the interview
It sounded out of desperation. I cannot help myself holding his hands instantly. They are ice cold. I cannot feel any warmth from his hands. Despair and pain was coming out of every inch of his fingers. Seung-Hyun Park, a man with muscular dystrophy. He is only 20 of his age, too young to ‘give up.’ The disease he has, however, is way too harsh. First, he could not feel his toes. Then his legs got paralyzed. Finally, this disorder spreads to upper body parts and destroys every nerve. His body became useless, just like a pair of old shoes torn apart. There is neither clear explanation for this disorder nor treatment. ‘Acceptance’ might be the only way to deal with this disorder. When one faces death end in his life, one can only hope for a miracle. He stood at the border of life and death.
Seung-Hyun was more than a patient with muscular disorder. He is a professional gamer. He is, moreover, recognized as one of the most promising rookie. People do not recognize him only as a ‘first degree’ handicapped professional player, but also as one with incredible performances. Gaming is the only way for him to prove he is alive , also an exit from this godforsaken disorder that sucks the life out of him, and the only way for him to communicate with the world outside of his body.
His house in Shinam-Dong, Daegu city, is shabby. A small apartment about 33 square meters big delivered a sense of fatigue, just like his godforsaken disorder.
He gave us a bit awkward look. There was a sense of caution toward strangers in his voice.
He seemed to be in worse condition than we thought. There was no muscle in his legs, stretched like a wet blanket. Thin blood veins were apparent on his transparent, skinny arms. His skinny neck was barely dangling on his shoulder. It seemed like he did not comb his hair ever for he did not dare to go outside in his life. 13 years of suffering tore every corner of his body, slow but thorough.
“My weight… I think it’s about 30kg. I am not sure because it was a long time ago. I don’t know my height because I can’t spread my legs. Maybe it’s about 160cm?”
Pain entered his body when he was 7. But he was able to walk just like other kids by then. He just started to lose the sense of his legs. He was healthy and ate fine. His parents did not worry much.
When he was in summer vacation in his 4th grade, an omen of misery came to his life. He suddenly cannot move his feet. He could not move his knees, either. He found standing on his foot impossible, not to mention walking.
After a close examination, his family got a shocking diagnosis. Muscular dystrophy. He could not use only his legs for now, but he will end up losing sense of his arms, and all of his body in the worst case. He lost the tremendous joy of walking on his own. It was a totally unexpected catastrophe. Severe insomnia became a regularity in his life.
A series of misery kept coming. His parents cannot afford medical expenses. His family were depending on governmental subsidies. His disorder was not covered by medical insurances. It seemed like there was no one on their side. His parents cannot give up, however. Even going to the hospital for checkup was a challenge to them. Taxi drivers usually refused a child in a wheelchair. They started to hate the world around them.
“I cried and cried, so many times.”
His mother, Mrs. Koo, broke silence. Her eyes were red. Tears out of anger were on her face.
“When I have to carry him on my back, I fell on the ground multiple times. I was so broken that I cried so many times in the middle of street, holding him in my arms. “
Despite all her efforts for medical care, this godforsaken disease did not perish at all. Their visitation for checkup started to decrease. He disliked to go to hospital for going outside was one hell of a challenge for him. There were so many times for him to just give up, but he decided to ‘accept,’ because patience is the only option left for him.
“Do you know what his biggest fear is?”
His mother again broke the silence. I hesitated to give an answer. She answered herself with a little smile on her face.
“Not this unmerciful world. Not this goddamn disease. A goddamn cockroach.”
One day he was leaning his back on a chair. A cockroach was crawling in front of his feet. He ended up crying when that goddamn bug decided to crawl on his disabled legs. His paralyzed arms and legs were unable to push it away. He had no choice but to stare at this upcoming fear. Totally disarmed. It was cruel and severe tragedy.
‘This is what pain is'
Seung-Hyun mourned at his misery, his condition unable to move his body at all. That memory stayed in the deepest part of his bones by the definition of ‘pain.’
This lockdown was followed by endless boredom. All he could do was lying down on his bed or watching TV. Then all of a sudden, he found out this game.
“It was just fun.”
At first, just talking to other players in chatting room was fun. Then he started to be mesmerized the beauty of Warcraft 3. He won more frequently by time. Sometimes his natural desire to win made him furious after a loss. He felt alive. His paralyzed body parts seemed to twitch. He joined Clan ‘Go’ in 2005. He picked his username as ‘Space.’ His username became Go)Space. His desire to be free was in his username. He even managed to rank first in Warcraft 3 Season Ladder, Korea server.
Prejudice against physically challenged people were obvious in game industry as well. He wanted to join other clans before he ended up joining Clan Go. Those clans, however, refused to accept him after they found out he cannot attend offline meetings. He was disappointed. But joining Clan Go totally changed his life. Professional E-Sports team ‘Fnatic’ was checking him up. Fnatic, based in UK, was known as one of the best teams in the world. Fnatic contacted him shortly, telling him to show some result in tournaments before joining Fnatic. He did so with strong motivation. He defeated ‘Lyn’ in AWL Season 1, brought so-called ‘Rookie sensation.’ He made to the final rounds of AWL 3.
We asked about his performance.
“Actually, I don’t really know. I don’t really care. It is just pure joy for me to play. “
His performance, however, was amazing. His records, sent by his manager Minhae Kim, proved that he is not just a regular gamer. He was qualified as a professional gamer, 3 years after joining Fnatic. ‘Space’ was making presence in this world.
There was a red bracelet on his left wrist.
“Where is that bracelet from?”
“Oh this? This was a gift early this year. I participated in a tournament in China. Then a lady gave me this, saying she was a big fan of mine. “
He is more famous abroad. There is a fan site for him in Europe.
“I am kind of jealous, having a fan and all.”
He replied with a big smile.
We asked him to show us the way he plays, as the interview seems to end soon. He agreed to do so without hesitation.
But the game did not go that smooth. His mother had to adjust his chair, placing him in the right position and checking every details before playing a single game. I found out something more. Most players use every keys on a keyboard including Ctrl and number keys from 1 to 0. He was using only one to four. He was unable to press 5 on the keyboard as the disorder got worse. Seung-Hyun, however, said he did not care so much. He was adapting to it.
“I can only move my fingers and neck for 2 years.”
It sounded like this to me.
“Please, just leave me the power to move my fingers.”
He seemed to be praying that himself.
“My dream..? Well.. I just wanted to win. Every single game, including this disease.”
He suddenly said it. For a moment, he did not seem as a physically handicapped person. He looked very comfortable in front of a computer screen. He could not even turn the computer on by himself, but he was definitely dreaming in this virtual world. His cells were moving in this world.
This interview was also painful to myself for I believe asking details of his life can be a torture to him, opening up old wounds.