By Nadia Fung
A two-year-old Kevin Harr stood in the stands of the Jeju World Cup, eyes full of excitement, as he watched the 2002 World Cup games, dreaming of one day playing there.
Fifteen years later, that dream turned into a reality as he was called up to play for the South Korean national team, bringing tears to his dad’s eyes.
“I was playing in there, and my dad was trying not to cry,” Harr said.
These moments helped jump-start a soccer career that would take him as far as America to do what he loved while also being able to further his education. Harr is now continuing his education at Flagler College, where he also plays for the men’s soccer team.
Growing up in Germany with a German dad and a South Korean mom, he tried to stay true to both of his roots.
It was the connection he was waiting for—to feel connected in some way to his South Korean culture.
“I don’t feel that connected to the culture because I was raised in Germany and raised with German culture. The rest of my family from my mom’s side is still in Korea,” Harr said.
What all started as him being coached by his dad for his hometown club at age seven progressed into an hour-long drive away from home to play for his first professional club at age 11.
Harr was living the soccer dream, traveling all over Europe and even to Qatar to play in World Cup stadiums with his club team.
“That was a big thing that was about 10 years ago when they started building up everything for the World Cup,” Harr said. “They invited a lot of big youth teams to play against their youth teams to build up their quality and stuff for the World Cup, which was pretty crazy because everything there was just luxurious and everything.”
During a youth club tournament in Germany, the South Korean national team coach discovered Harr.
The South Korean national team happened to be playing in Germany at the time. After talks with Harr’s agent, since he was already eligible to play for the national team due to already having a South Korean passport, Harr found himself an opportunity of a lifetime.
“They had like three goalkeepers there, and one of them got injured, and then the coach was like, okay, that’s a perfect time to like test him out because he never saw me. They were one or two years older, but he was just like, I want to see him for the next few years and stuff. And I did pretty well,” Harr said.
Harr was fascinated and immersed in the experience of playing for a national team.
“It was an unbelievable experience. It’s like the whole procedure; playing for a club team in Germany was already kind of crazy—what you dreamed of as a kid—but then playing for a national team, you can literally fly out there, stay in a hotel, play their games, even fly to the different games you have in different countries,” Harr said.
Harr’s soccer journey, which had already taken him across Europe and onto the international stage with the South Korean national team, reached a new chapter when he set his sights on the soccer scene in Miami, FL, with Florida International University.
He was no stranger to the pressures of playing for a powerhouse team.
Being the starting goalkeeper for the nationally ranked 2022 FIU team and winning the regular season and the conference tournament is as amazing as it sounds.
However, his educational goals did not align with the high demands of FIU soccer.
“At the end of the day, soccer is not forever, which is the reality of it. You’re here for a reason, mainly to be a student, and then the athlete comes second,” Harr said.
His transfer in the fall of 2023 to continue being a student-athlete at Flagler College was tough, as he had to leave the new lifelong friends he made in his short time at FIU.
But it became an easy decision when he was surrounded by beautiful beaches, at a school that still offers a high level of soccer and, most importantly, prioritizes the student before the athlete.
As he juggles academics with athletic pursuits at Flagler, Harr brings a unique blend of international experience and raw passion to the team.
His love for soccer will never fade, as it continues to give him memories of a lifetime.
For once, soccer is not the main focus right now, but he is now able to see the future of one day working for the South Korean Soccer Federation, one semester at a time.
Soccer brought him closer to his mom and culture, as he was able to represent South Korea on the big stage. And it forever connects him to the moments that once filled his dad’s eyes with tears.
Thinking back to what helped create the passionate and charismatic person he is today; Harr could only think of one piece of advice from his dad that still resonates with him today.
“You should always be able to not regret something after you’re done with something, or maybe you didn’t even achieve it,” Harr said.