The world's first professional StarCraft II gamer has been granted a five-year pro athlete visa for the United States, making Kim "viOLet" Dong Hwan the first of his kind.
viOLet was one of the first gamers to apply for the P-1A visa when they were introduced in July. The new paperwork doesn't mean that he can live permanently in the U.S., but it does mean he'll be treated like other (more traditional) athletes, able to easily enter the country temporarily to participate in tournaments.
It's a great end to a less-than-great year for viOLet, who suffered health problems when living in the crowded MVP team house, left SK Gaming's Warcraft 3 squad following a house fire, and - most notably - was forced to forfeit two major tournaments following visa difficulties.
Andrew Tomlinson is founder and owner of viOLet's team, CSA:
Dong Hwan is the kind of guy you meet and you just know he is bound for greatness, I have always believed in him. He was my college roommate for a year in 2012, and when he had to return to Korea last year it felt like I had lost a brother. At the first sign of an issue with viOLet’s visa, we made the decision to keep him grounded until a solution was found. Battling these issues with him has been one of the most taxing and emotional roller coasters I have ever faced in my life. Seven months of work, and 500 pages later it has paid off, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for Dong Hwan. I want to especially thank all those who helped in this long process with us, without your valuable support I am not sure if viOLet would still be in eSports.
viOLet himself is - understandably - thrilled:
I’ve been so jealous when others Koreans traveled to the USA for tournaments. I have been trying to go to USA as well, but I got denied 3 times, and I was almost ready to give up.. really almost, it was lots drama... But my manager found out another last way, and we worked hard together. If we got denied this last time too, yea, I would pretty much have to retire .. no more esports (and I’m pretty sure a lot of people think I’m retired from pro-gaming already)!! But I am not, and so I started working on my stressful visa work with Andrew! :D
According to his official statement, viOLet is looking forward to Jagerbombs when he arrives in the U.S. next week. We're hoping gaming follows soon after.
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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