- Lim Hyo-jun wins first gold for South Korea.
|▲ 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. Photo courtesy Korea.net|
The PyeongChang Winter Olympics are finally underway after years of waiting and wondering over security concerns, whether certain countries would stay home because of these concerns, and, most of all, how Korea’s athletes would perform.
If the opening ceremony last Friday night is any indication, these Games got off on the right foot. The introduction in Pyeongchang was rich in history, modernity, choreography, and celebration. Most of all, seeing athletes from the North and the South march out together in the Parade of Nations brings hope that one day, a country divided by the Cold War will once again reunite and become one.
Kim Yu-na lit the Olympic torch following the handoff from two members of the unified Korean’ women’s hockey team, Chong Su-hyon of North Korea and Park Jong-ah of South Korea. She admitted to being nervous during the lighting, saying it was nothing like being in competition.
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“I was worried there might be some problem. When my eyes met the North Korean athlete’s, I just smiled. But, I was nervous. When you’re competing, you can go back and make up for mistakes,” Kim said.
"But, you only have one chance to light the Olympic flame, and the whole world is watching. It all happened so quickly, it was kind of surreal,” she finished, according to a report from The Straits Times.
South Korea also secured its first gold medal of these Games over the weekend when short-track skater Lim Hyo-jun won the men’s 1,500 meters, setting a new Olympic record time of 2:10.485. This beat the old record time set by fellow countryman Lee Jung-su in Vancouver in 2010 by more than five-tenths of a second.
South Korea is expected to come away with a healthy score of medals in short track speed skating at these Games, having won more medals (43, including now 22 gold) than any other country in the sport.
|▲ PyeongChang Olympic Plaza. Photo courtesy Korea.net|
In other Olympic news, Joshua Cooper Ramo, a commentator for American network NBC which has exclusive rights in the United States to broadcast the Olympics, has been asked to step down from duty. This follows remarks he made in reference to Korea and Japan during the opening ceremony.
At one point, Ramo commented how “every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.”
The comment incited outrage from Koreans the globe over, and with very good reason. Korea and Japan have unsettled historical differences to this day, owing much to the period of Japanese colonialism which lasted from the end of the Joseon Dynasty to the conclusion of the Second World War (1910-1945).
The issue of security is another that, of course, will have to be closely monitored as the Games progress.
It was confirmed by officials that there was, in fact, a cyber attack that took place during the opening ceremonies on Friday night. While they will not say where the threat originated from, they confirmed that all issues have been resolved.
Turning back to the Games, short track speed skating will again be front and center this week, with medal events in the women’s 500 meters on Tuesday and the women’s 1,500 meters as well as the men’s 1,000 meters on Saturday.
Branko Belan firstname.lastname@example.org