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Choe Sang-hun on Korea’s lack of anger this Olympics

The NYT’s Choe Sang-hun points out that despite getting royally screwed in one of the Winter Olympic’s marquee events, there seems to be remarkably little anger this time around, and that this points to a change in the way Koreans view sports and nationalism.

Read the piece on your own—it’s a good one.

I agree that the level of anger was much less than in previous years, but I do wonder how much of that is due to a) Kim Yuna’s own exceedingly classy handling of the situation and b) the country doing the screwing was Russia, ergo, the screwing was, if not expected, than at least not entirely surprising.

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  • Bob Bobbs

    Ohno-seki-ya!

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    FIRST!

  • brier

    I have wondered if Korea hosting the next winter Olympics has influenced the toned down behavior. Anyways, I am sure the Russians will get a warm welcome in ’18, but a few less gold than ’14.

  • j95lee

    They’re not as upset because Yuna wasn’t denied a medal, which was not the case for past Korean athletes screwed by human errors. They also couldn’t deny that their athletes underachieved in Sochi (the Netherlands pwned speed skating) and the Yuna winning gold wasn’t going to change that fact.

    I also wonder if they were driven to some soul searching after the Viktor Ahn episode (if you watched NBC, you would think Korea cut ties with him only because he got hurt). Netizens are directing their anger towards the Korean skating organization, but (hopefully) at least some of them are starting to understand that certain obsessive Korean behavior is driving people away, including their own. They missed out on like 3 golds for nothing.

    It’s telling Yuna appears genuinely happy about retiring and unburden herself from heavy expectations? Check out this interview, in which she let slip that training was taking its toll on her.

    http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/yuna-kim-ive-been-waiting-moment

    There’s a limit to everything.

  • DC Musicfreak

    In addition to Yuna’s own reaction, I put this down to:

    -The maturation of Korea’s netizen population and even its mass media.

    -Recognition that past episodes damaged the Korean brand and that OTT sports nationalism does not befit a future host of the Games. Our wisest Korean Americans here on this site somewhat rightly chafed at the stereotype the country labored under at the onset of the Yuna travesty. (I say somewhat because the netizens did attack that British speedskater Christie and because, in general, most enduring stereotypes have a foundation in reality — with the exception of most things PRChina says about its neighbors, imperial subjects and geopolitical rivals ;-) ). And, yes, I am guilty of expecting the worst from Korea here and am happy to have been wrong.

    At the same time, I have to wonder what would have happened if Asada Mao or Gracie Gold and their countries were the beneficiaries of the travesty (hypothetically of course because any Sochi chicanery was a Russian affair). I’m sure that the controversy would have burned hotter and longer, because Japan and the US are comfortable targets of Korean wrath and rage that are liberal democracies (Abe’s tendencies notwithstanding) that won’t strike back. Korea treads very gingerly with all three of the dictatorships to its north and west.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Look at these pretty girls, what is there to be angry about?

    http://sports.media.daum.net/sports/photocenter/gallery/?gid=113616#20140224184203506

    I think the fact that there were a lot of indignant outbursts outside of Korea by important experts and fans on the media also helped. Usually what tends to exacerbate the situation is when they feel isolated and nobody is listening to their woes, because they have a shrimp complex.. All the Korea-haters – you know who you are – waiting to make it worse by making snide comments *never help*..This time, rightly or wrongly, anti-Russian sentiment abroad helped to make the Koreans feel ‘the heaven and earth already know the truth already, so’

    A kind of similar thing happened with a non-disqualification of China’s Pan in the short track final..http://www.etoday.co.kr/news/section/newsview_related.php?&idxno=873532&ridxno=873486 That hand was so obvious, that most Koreans couldn’t care less about it (they got gold and bronze anyway), and I think most people have given up on the way things are ruled and have realized it has to be taken as good luck/bad luck on the day..

  • felddog13

    While Kim’s responses to all the controversy have been nothing but classy, I wonder if her openly-stated desire to be a member of the IOC perhaps led to a bit of self-muzzling?

  • JW

    “The maturation of Korea’s netizen population and even its mass media”

    Disagree. I couldn’t find any significant difference in maturation levels in going through some of the gazillion comments attached to daum news articles about Yuna. They are really a hoot, though. Highly entertaining at times.

  • JW

    Yuna, that photo sucks, and it sucks for one reason only — Shim Suk Hee is not included. (Yes, I’m a big fan. My theory is that Shim is such a nice girl that she intentionally let her older teammate get the gold in the 1000m race)

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    LOL.
    As I said, this is why Korea doesn’t need to do anything.
    That Economist front cover is classic.
    http://adage.com/article/media/putin-skates-yorker-economist-covers/291573/

  • Aja Aja

    Yeah that makes sense since Korea is just one big giant group with one big brain all thinking the same at the same time. And it told itself to ‘tone down itself own behavior’.

  • redwhitedude

    Perhaps. But then again she is not known to express any anger.

  • DC Musicfreak

    I mean compared to the Apollo Ohno controversy…

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ The_Korean

    One underrated factor in the Kim Dong-seong/Apollo Ohno kerfuffle: that coincided with the nadir of George W. Bush’s presidency, and a lot of Koreans were channeling their anger toward U.S. in that direction. Plus Ohno was part Japanese–the perfect target.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    And in the meanwhile, the level of Japanese nutizens and twits seems to plunge to a new low:

    http://xportsnews.hankyung.com/?ac=article_view&entry_id=422673

  • ChuckRamone

    Haha, wow. That’s pathetically hilarious. Who knew Japan’s right wing nuts liked to throw around the F-bomb so much? Angry little men, seething with unfathomable rage.

  • ChuckRamone

    Haha, wow. That’s pathetically hilarious. Who knew Japan’s right wing
    nuts liked to throw around the F-bomb so much? Angry little men,
    seething with unfathomable rage.

  • redwhitedude

    Japanese the best PR for the comfort women. All Korea has to do is not go overboard.

  • dlbarch

    Finally, someone states what should be clear to anyone who has paid attention to Korea at all over the last five decades!

    Simply put, the U.S. holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Koreans — for both good and bad — and as a result the country tends to complain the loudest when the perceived grievance overlaps other dynamics taking place within the larger Korea-U.S. relationship.

    Koreans have high expectations from the U.S. and understandably (if not always correctly) go to the streets to complain against Washington in ways they would never do vis-a-vis Moscow or Beijing…probably because deep down they EXPECT the Russians and Chinese to be unreliable, feckless pricks. (Which, btw, they are.)

    Throw in the spectacularly disastrous presidency of George W., and, yeah, it’s a bit like throwing gasoline on a fire.

    DLB

  • Aja Aja

    Now this is not a nice thing to do even if your a right wing Japanese

    http://xportsnews.hankyung.com/?ac=article_view&entry_id=422673

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Yeah, I thought about that… but it doesn’t explain the anger at the German fencer. Which was also pretty intense.

  • felddog13

    Awful awful awful. Which makes me feel even worse for having laughed at it. Pretty hard, too.

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ The_Korean

    Fair point, but I would say the anger toward Ohno was magnitudes greater than that toward the German fencer.

  • Horace Jeffery Hodges

    Shouldn’t that statue be silver?

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • pawikirogii

    they don’t have any shame.

  • brier

    I wrote that sentence with my belief that Koreans consume information in a very savvy way. At least that’s my impression. They got it, without having it stated, and it was one of many influences.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Apparently the Twitter account in question has been suspended.

  • pawikirogii

    good article about japanese hatred towards koreans and chinese.

    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201402120004

  • j95lee

    I think comment moderation has improved on those sites over the years. I’m not 100% certain though.

  • IAMIN YURI

    No lack of anger. The world is used to Koreans complaining.

  • will.i.aint

    Unrelated, but sort of interesting side point: The American Army officer tasked to meet with the families of the two girls killed by the armored vehicle in 2002, something he did almost daily for the better part of a month, was named … MAJ Ohno. I suppose, fortunately for him, his mother wasn’t Asian, so he didn’t look very Japanese. But during that time – Apollo Anton Ohno was included in anti-American signs at the train station in Uijeongbu – so it was very interesting that the person picked to represent USFK was named Ohno. By the way – I am convinced that MAJ Ohno is single-handedly responsible convincing those two families to stay out of the anti-American fervor of the time – this despite tremendous pressure from anti-American groups for them to be the face of the movement.

  • http://f5waeg.blogspot.com/ F5Waeg