The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Category: Korean Sports (page 1 of 9)

Kim Yuna breaks-up with that hockey player dude

Yeah, what’s his name?  Ah, that’s right, Kim Won-jung.

Kim Yuna, Kim Won-jung (Newsis)

(Photo from Korea Times U.S. edition)

Kim Yuna finally took the advice of all her TMH oppas and dumped Won-jung recently.

According to Korea Times:

In August, Sgt. Kim Won-jung, while serving his mandatory military service as an athlete in the military corps, made headlines when he sustained leg injuries after getting in a car accident following a visit to a [Thai] massage parlor.

Kim Won-jung’s representatives reportedly told media the separation was due to his rehabilitation treatment and differences in personality

Kansas City’s Korean good luck charm

The Irish have the Blarney Stone, the Chinese rub Buddha’s belly and the Kansas City Royals have Lee Sung-woo.

They have who, what, huh?

Okay, so the story goes that in the middle of the American major league baseball season the Kansas City Royals were just an average team in a small market with average talent, having yet another ho-hum average season in their bland 45 year history (playoff-less in the last 28 of those 45 years).  That was until a foreigner named Sung-woo Lee from far away South Korea came on the scene.  Through social media, Sung-woo was a regular fixture on Royals’ fan sites and blogs and exhorted Royals’ fans to persevere, which helped to inject much needed enthusiasm into the traditional fan base.  Interestingly enough, Sung-woo’s online participation started as an attempt to learn English by consistently conversing with American baseball fans.

(Image from KMBC, Channel 9)

Native Kansas City residents were curious about this Asian man from a far away country and his interest in their local team.  Usually, when a foreigner is interested in an American baseball team, it’s usually a team from one of the bigger markets like the NY Yankees, LA Dodgers or Seattle Mariners, etc.  But Kansas City?  As a Midwestern town they are not close to Asia or Europe and the “city” of barely 500,000 people does not have the ritz and glamour of a New York or Los Angeles.

But a committed fan Sung-woo appeared to be.  He even came to Kansas City in August of this year for a 10 day stay.  Locals gave him a hero’s welcome, rolled out the red carpet and showered him with Midwestern hospitality.  They named a hot dog in his honor and even had him throw the first pitch in a game against the A’s.  But the real news is what happened to the team during his little Kansas City vacation: an eight game winning streak that put them in the wild card hunt.  The New York Post called this the baseball “feel good” story of the year.  Locals call him the “superfan.”   NPR said he’s spread “Korean pixie dust” on the team.  Korea Times US Edition called it “Korean Karma.”  KMBC channel 9 reporter Kris Ketz simply called Sung-woo their “good luck charm.”

American baseball is a notoriously superstitious sport.  The 2002 Angels had the rally monkey, which some believe helped propel a pretty average talent wise team all the way to winning the World Series.  Well, not to say that a man and a monkey are the same thing, but it appears the good luck charm thing is happening again this year and this time it could very well be the Royals who benefit.  They swept the Baltimore Orioles for the AL Championship yesterday and will either play the Giants or Cardinals for the MLB World Series.

Judging of boxing matches at Korean hosted events still controversial

Boxing in itself is pretty corrupt, however, it would appear that Korean boxing is even more blatantly corrupt than average.  Take for instance when Roy Jones Jr. was robbed of a gold medal in the Seoul Olympics, which is listed by some as the third worst moment in boxing history (and the 14th most stunning moment in Olympics history by The Guardian).

What would an internationally hosted event in Korea be without more boxing controversy?  Well, there are two this year.  The most dramatic was in female boxing as many thought India’s Sarita Devi should have won the silver medal bout.  It was even reported that her opponent, Park Ji-na, told Sarita that she was the real winner of the silver medal!

(Image from Reuters)

Sarita was so upset that she refused her bronze medal, giving it to her opponent Park Ji-na.  Park, confused what to do with it, just left it at the podium.

On the men’s side the Filipinos are complaining after the controversial win of Shin Jong-Hun over Mark Anthony Barriga.  President of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, Ricky Vargas, said, “Hometown decisions are very prevalent here.”

Controversial judging of boxing matches needs to be added to the Cluster F@ck list.

Well, I’m just glad there won’t be any boxing in Pyeongchang in 2018.

The Asian Games Cluster F@ck Thread

Here’s the ask:

Can we have a thread on how much the Asian games has turned into a huge Korean style cluster fuck? My wife is embarrassed but she said, it’s typically Korean to fuck things up so well. Can’t wait for the Olympics now! Incheon is right next to Seoul and they couldn’t even get that right, how the hell are they going to manage in the middle of nowhere?

…and here’s the answer:

A clusterfuck.

1.Stadiums getting blackouts
2. Athlete’s lunch boxes found with salmonella
3. Volunteers asking for athletes signatures and making them late to their events – because they got 1 hour of training 1 week before the Games started.
4. 20% of interpreters quitting (because they had to pay for their own transport to and from the Games),
5. Athletes’ rooms not having fans or A/C,
6. Athletes’ rooms crammed with three beds and cramming athletes in them because they don’t have enough rooms
7. No mosquito screens for the rooms, subpar quality food for the athletes – partially caused by the fact that the majority of the cooks are college kids majoring in food science
8. Beach volleyball site doesn’t have changing rooms
9. Badminton stadium has A/C with strong wind that got the complaints of all athletes including Korean ones
10. Thailand baseball team had to practice in the dark because the lights weren’t on
11. Archery field was so shitty the Korean Archery association used their own funds to have the field meet the standards (including a whole new display)
12. The shooting field lacked lockers and seats for the athletes (forcing them to sit on the stairs with their stuff)
13. Plumbing trouble leaks urine at various stadium
14. The weightlifting stadium lacked curtains or other covers for the changing room – everyone saw the athletes change.
15. The Sepak Takraw (check it out, btw. It’s pretty epic) stadium leaked rainwater mid-event and the event was delayed for 20 minutes
16. No one informed the teams that the official basketball brand changed.
17. Critical shortage of medical staff at the basketball games, forcing the team trainers and other athletes to play doctor.
18. Organizers didn’t tell a Chinese fencer (A bronze medalist) that the shuttle bus stations changed locations. A Korean journalist had to give him a ride on the taxi, and the Organizers chastised the fencer for not getting on the earlier shuttles afterwards.
19. Organizers converted the Disabled Parking spots to VIP parking spots that can be bough at a fee. Yeah.
20. The broadcasters are not covering the events well – even the ones that Koreans would be interested in watching like badminton. The Koreans had to watch the badminton final using a Chinese TV station online.
21. Organizers selling most of the tickets to popular events to Chaebols, who of course doesn’t use them = empty stadiums even in events that are popular (baseball, basketball, etc)
22. It’s nice that the organizers had the ticket pre-sale available online with multiple languages. Too bad you need either a Korean ID number or foreigner registration number to buy one. Oh, and a Korean credit card. (Nice one, guys. Learn that move from Naver/Daum?)
23. The official Incheon Asian Games website was down until September 24th.
24. A shuttle bus driver, because he thought it was too bothersome to go through the entire route, decided to just skip the Field Hockey site (귀찮으니까…). What the fuck.
25. Organizers (read: Incheon city government) are forcing all school field trips in the city to go to the events because they have trouble keeping the seats filled (caused by the previous mentioned reasons.
26. Shuttle bus in general are either in critical shortage or arbitrarily changing/cancelling service. Disturbing amount of journalists/athletes are relying on taxis… except that the taxi drivers have no idea what any of the venues/buildings are.

And, of course, when the journalists asked the Organizers about these clusterfucks, the Organizers got into a verbal altercations with the journalists. Then they tried to issue a gag order on any articles critical of the Games. Then they flatly denied issuing any gag orders… to the journalists that they personally gave gag orders to.

A clusterfuck.

 Qatar women's basketball team walking off the court after withdrawing ahead of their women's preliminary round match against Mongolia. (AFP)

To the above list, I can add the row over the Qatari women’s basketball team forfeiting their final games and leaving the Asian games altogether over not being allowed to wear their hijab.  “The withdrawal of the Qatari team has tarnished the image of the Asian Games, which trumpets diversity and inclusiveness yet said it was powerless to help the players.   Competition at the Asiad is conducted under the regulations of the individual sports’ governing bodies, meaning organisers had to follow FIBA Article 4.4.2 prohibiting ‘headgear, hair accessories and jewellery’ for reasons of safety and uniformity.”  The Asian Games organizers and Qatari team should have addressed the Peng Yang of China, right, against Raja Norsharina Raja Shabuddin of Malaysia. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Imagesissue before the start of games.  Allowing the wearing of hijab seems  a reasonable accommodation unless someone can show that wearing hijab gives an advantage to the wearer, presents a disadvantage to the competition, or makes problems for the officials:

Indonesian archer Sri Ranti said she did not understand why she was allowed to wear an Islamic headscarf but other athletes in different sports were not.

“It’s about our religious freedom,” she added. “I don’t understand it.”

An archer on the Qatari men’s team, Al Mohandi Ibrahim Mohammed, said the issue was one of safety rather than religion but added that there were other more dangerous things to look out for than headscarves.

“I don’t think they are targeting Muslims, I believe that the hijab is banned for safety reasons,” he told Reuters.

“But from what I understand, hijabs, bandanas and hairbands are all allowed in the Women’s National Basketball Association.

“I think a long ponytail would probably cause more safety problems.”

From my side, I have enjoyed the games from my private box with full half-stocked refrigerator, luxury leather seats, private bath, HDTV monitors…. OK, one HDTV monitor.   My 술집여자, however, is a little too lippy, snippy, and hippy .  So yeah, cluster f@ck.

(Special thanks to bumfromkorea. All my work should be so easy. )

 

Open Thread: Little League World Series Edition

Congratulations to the South Korean and Chicago little league teams for advancing to the finals game.  The game is tomorrow at 3pm U.S. Eastern Time on ABC.  Chicago beat Nevada to get to the title game and Korea beat Japan (twice).

Good luck to both teams!

2014 World Cup : Ahead of the Korea vs Russia game: 홍명보 and 까방권

홍명보 감독 2014 월드컵
자료출처 : 네이버/OSEN

I don’t think that I have come across a more subdued and *given-up already* Korean atmosphere for the World Cup than that of this year’s (at least online, of course, I am sure once the games start properly there will be seas of red t-shirts out in full force). Even scanning the comments that follow the provocatively titled article, “Capello (the manager of the Russian team) says there’s no need to know the Korean players names” the 자포자기한 comments go like “예리하긴..He(Capello)’s very sharp”.. Even the potential fodder to light the fire against the Russians (i.e. figure skating medal controversy at Sochi) doesn’t seem to be enough to stoke any flames. It’s not entirely a bad thing, I think sports nationalism has had its day in most places.

So Korea has a weaker team than usual (or maybe not? The combination of fresh young blood playing in Germany like 손흥민, 구자철 and the mid-gen dragons in the UK like 기성용 and 이청용 should be interesting, but the friendlies leading up to the WC were mainly disappointing) – And without knowing anything about Korean football, it looks like the worries have been mainly over the generation change (the glory days of the Park et al. are over with the retiring of the experienced veterans) and also Hong Myungbo insisting on using the remaining players from the previous generation (e.g.박주영) who might not be so great either in form or ability, by some tenuous loyalty issues -giving rise to a internet slang word 최종 “엔트으리” = 의리 + 엔트리.

Another internet slang word which I was laughing at this morning is 까방권. 까임+방지+권리 the right not to be dissed- it applies to some sportspeople and celebrities (especially those who have served their time at the army) who have somehow achieved a close-to-deity status and an immunity from possible internet lynching by their personality and achievement.

I actually came across it scanning this linked article in the yahoo.jp today, and was initially puzzled by it, because it could have been 가방권, the way it was written in Japanese カバン権。 Even when the writer(a third gen zainichi) was trying to explain ”カイム” 가이무, it took me more than a second to realize that he meant “까임” – “까다” – a slang to criticize – kind of like “diss” in English language.

So basically, the Japanese article was saying that Koreans are very down and not very confident going into the World Cup, and the 까방권 – “a right not to be dissed” which used to apply to Hong has all but disappeared when he insisted on including 박주영, despite his lack of match play time/condition.

Hong has generally a good image in Korea and abroad, and his players always swear by his manly charisma and 의리. Let’s see if the Korean team does enough to retain his 까방권.

More South Korean Skaters Poised to Defect

oopsViktor Ahn‘s father has stated that if there is not a serious reform of the Korean Skating Union, more Korean skaters will leave their passports behind and take up competition through other countries. (cite)

Can this really be surprising considering the jealousy, backbiting and bully-tactics reportedly employed by the skating union?

Sounds familiar?

Adam Wilk, Pittsburgh’s new pitcher and the former baseball player for NC Dinos has been in the Korean press for mentioning how terrible his sojourn in Korea has been for the 1 year contract period, now that he is back in the US.
NC Dinos is the new baseball team founded in 2011 with money from the online games company NCSOFT, to fill in one of the several regional/geo-cultural voids in Korea – the Masan/Jinhae/Changwon area. According to the USA Today it is also:

an expansion team in about as remote an outpost as you can find in the Korean Baseball League…in Changwon in extreme southeastern South Korea, about as far as you can get from Seoul.

According to the Sports Daum link, he has already recently dissed Korea in an online article (dated 28-02-2014) of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Triblive :

This spring, Wilk is in camp with the Pirates on a minor league contract. But the left-hander said his time in Korea did nothing to boost his career.
“It was an experience, to say the least,” “For me, it wasn’t a good experience. A lot of (the team’s) promises were very deceitful, an attempt to get us to sign.”
“It was nerve-racking,” Wilk said. “I had a ‘to-go bag’ ready to go in case I needed to ditch the country and escape on a boat to Japan. I tried my best not to think about it because I didn’t want to be worried.”
Wilk said team officials told the Americans they would live in upscale apartments in the Jungang-Dong district, which has plenty of shops and restaurants that cater to foreigners. Instead, Wilk said he was housed in an area several miles away.
“No parks, no restaurants, no anything,” Wilk said. “There was nothing to do. We found out later that the apartments in (Jungang-Dong) were significantly more expensive and the team wanted to cut costs.

He then slagged off the cheering culture (and softball?) in the USA Today Sports article:

“(The players) cheer like it’s college,” Wilks says. They cheer every strike, every ball. It’s just softball style rah-rah. They didn’t like that we didn’t cheer like that. Well, we cheer when good things happen. We don’t cheer when our guy strikes and loses the game with the bases loaded looking at a fastball. But they kind of do, so it gets a bit overwhelming at times. You just adjust to and deal with it.

Misuda women, academics, and sportsmen, and virtually all the English teachers..

I am curious as to why the Korean press seems to be obsessed with semi-celebrity former foreign residents of Korea going back to their home country and badmouthing Korea. Is it masochism of some sort? It doesn’t seem healthy to me, kind of related to why Korea is not a popular destination in the first place.

Korean-made condoms given to Olympic athletes, and other post-Olympic crap

- You’ll be happy to learn that the official condom of this year’s winter games were made by Korean manufacturer Unidus.

Daehanminguk mansei!

Some 100,000 condoms were given out to the 2,800 athletes. And if reports are to be believed, they needed them.

Unidus is a medium-sized company founded in 1973. In addition to condoms, they also make surgical gloves.

– Vlad Putin has awarded Victor Ahn the Order of Lenin Merit to the Fatherland award. He’s reportedly also been given an apartment in Moscow. Just nice to know he won’t be joining the hockey team in Siberia.

– I wonder if Korea’s failure to pass an anti-discrimination law—a failure largely attributed to anti-homosexual Christian groups—will become an issue in the run-up to the PyeongChang games.

– Likewise, I wonder how Olympic snowboarders are going to get around Korea’s strict anti-pot laws.

– Korea might have had a disappointing Olympic games, but it did place first in one category: dead last finishes.

– And in the New Republic, we’ve got, “Yuna Kim Has Not Had Plastic Surgery, and Koreans Love Her For It.” As TheKorean put it, “I was actually wondering why this type of article did not appear sooner. ‘What are two things that I know about Korea? Plastic surgery and Yuna Kim! Let’s write a story about linking the two!’ Morons.”

– That said, Kim Yuna has grown into an insanely lovely young woman.

– Then, there’s this:

Kim Yu-na and han. OK, although like Choe Sang-hun pointed out, the anger really wasn’t there this time around. It also makes you wonder what cultural element is responsible for the fact that the Americans seemingly can’t have a major sporting event without either the winning or losing fans rioting.

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.

The Kim Yuna Thread

If you’ve got something to say about Adelina Sotnikova stealing the gold, say it here.

The top Sports news list at Naver says it all:

스크린샷, 2014-02-21 10:27:05

UPDATE: The Facebook pages of the ISU and Russian President Vlad Putin are reportedly getting flooded with angry comments from Korean netizens. The comments at the ISU page are mostly in English, while the ones on Vlad’s page are largely in Korean… and a bit earthier. Or so the report says.

Meanwhile, SBS announcer Bae apparently left a couple of comments on Putin’s Facebook, too, namely, “If you’re going to hold a neighborhood sports day, why did you invite us?” and “Sochi is the suchi (shame) of the Olympics.” He later removed the comments.

Some netizens, though, worry about a repeat of what happened to the British skater Elise Christie, while others worry that Chinese and Japanese netizens and possibly North Korean cyber agents posing as (South) Koreans might post abuse just to make Koreans look bad.

Ordinarily, I’d say online abuse makes Korea look bad, but frankly, I can think of few world figures more deserving of salty online commentary than Vlad Putin.

이상화 Sanghwa Lee wins the first Sochi gold for South Korea

After several disappointing results in the men’s speed skating (이승훈, 모태범) dominated by the seemingly invincible Netherlands, 이상화Sanghwa Lee finally broke the dry-spell for S.Korea by winning the gold medal for women’s 500m speed skating at Sochi.
It was her second Olympic gold medal 37.42 (first race) + 37.28 (second race) = 74.40 (total) – an Olympic record but not her personal record. She was joined on the podium by Russia’s Olga Fatkulina (silver, 75.06) and Netherlands’ Margot Boer (bronze, 75.48). Lee was coached by Canada’s Kevin Crockett (former name Kevin Overland).

Victor An (Ahn Hyunsoo) who became a Russian national took bronze for Russia at the short track (1500m). It was a meaningful bronze as he left after many revelations and accusations pointing at the Korean Skating Federation (대한민국 빙상연맹), they are indeed riddled with many scandals surrounding favoritism and factionalism. Many Koreans were rooting for him, especially with sympathy at what he had to endure under the Korean skating federation and he has also been cheering for his Korean juniors 후배’s so the bond still seems to be there, and no hard feelings. The latest Korean media interest in him has been from the introduction of his pretty girlfriend Nari Oo who’s meant to have been his fan for 10 years.

This 파싸움(factionalism) within the various Korean sports federations which eats away at the core of Korean sports spirit is not the story of yesterday and today (어제오늘일이 아니다, meaning it’s been around and known for a while). Another famous case is Sarang’s father Choo Sunghoon (Akiyama Yoshihiro) who wanted to compete for South Korea in Judo, but then went back to Japan and took the Japanese nationality to win gold for Japan against Korea. Judging by his appearance and attitude on the Korean television show Superman Returned as Sarang’s father, his bond for Korea is not waning at all.

Korean Football Team gets an education on how (not) to use the SNS

As a result of a recent palaver following the footballer 기성용 Ki Sungyong slagging off the former national team manager 최강희(Choi Kanghee) on his twitter, South Korean National Men’s Football team (a.k.a Team Hong Myungbo 홍명보호) is to receive a special lesson on how to keep their big SNS gobs shut.

National Men’s Football Team Coach Hong Myungbo – 출처:스포츠동아DB .

Hong Myungbo, Mr.Charisma himself, who was recently appointed as 감독 Manager to direct the national team, is having none of the monkeying-around by Ki. Although Ki himself has mentioned Hong with much respect and awe during multiple previous occasions, Hong in turn, silenced the possibility of showing a soft-spot for Ki by saying :

홍명보 감독은 기성용에게 “대표팀 감독이 아니라 축구 선배로서 (말하자면)앞으로 바깥세상과 소통하기보다는 부족한 내면의 세계를 넓혀 갔으면 한다”며 “협회의 경고조치를 가볍게 생각해서는 안 될 것이다. 축구에서 옐로카드가 어떤 의미를 주는지에 대해 잘 생각해야 할 것이다. 앞으로 주의 깊게 관찰하겠다”고 말했다.
As a 축구선배 (Football sunbae/senior) and not as a national team manager, I would advise him(Ki) to make an effort to widen/teach his inner self which is very much lacking (in various qualities) rather than to worry about communicating with the outside world. He should not take the Football Commission’s warning lightly, and instead think about the meaning of a yellow card during a football game. I will keep a close eye on him.”

Who knows? Marrying a 누나 might calm him down a bit in the future – here he is marrying the lovely actress Han Hyejin.
I would also say that a lesson in SNS might not be a bad idea for a lot of people. Or just any sort of anger-management. Or a help-line one can call before pressing that “publish” or “tweet” button.

South Korean Footballer Ki Sungyong to marry Actress/presenter Han Hyejin

South Korean footballer Ki Sungyong(24, Swansea City) is set to marry the pretty actress and straight-talking presenter of the SBS Interview Show “Healing Camp” Han Hyejin (32) in July. Here he is on the talk show last year before they started going out, saying that he prefers older women, and cannot stand the “oppa” addressing from younger girls – he also confesses that Han is his type and that he would marry (somebody-like-her) straight away.

Ki, the midfielder who scored the winning goal against Team GB (in the penalties) for Team Hong Myungbo in the 2012 London Olympics, is quite well known for his 욱하는 성질 (literally “Uuk”-hanun character – Uuk-hada means to get angry/emotional/to see red – the sound characterizing anger brimming over in the throat), and lack of self-control. On the same episode of the show (episode 58*) which you can watch in its entirety he talks about his character on the field, about the team, about the bronze-medal and the controversial goal ceremonies, and about his friendship with Ku Jachul (FC Augsburg). It’s quite interesting.

Personally, Ki Sungyong really reminds me of many Korean boys/men I have met both in Korea, but mainly outside Korea. Some of them very nice, bright and confident who have spent their formative years battling some sort of prejudice outside Korea (I guess maybe boys have it harder) turn quite nationalistic in a simplistic sense.

Here’s hoping that their marriage is long and happy. It was sad to learn that another one of Ki’s friends, Cha Duri just divorced his wife. It cannot be easy for the Korean footballers and their WAGs following their celebrity husbands to less-known cities abroad.

*Correction: I forgot that there are usually two episodes of one interviewee in the Healing Camp. In Episode 59 which I am watching now Ki actually mentions the loneliness and the unglamourous lifestyle of a lonely Korean footballer in an European team -he says he’s had to eat 계란밥 (raw egg + rice + soy sauce for 1 month – lack of Korean food/material) -sniff sniff

On sexed up sports and sedation

The recent article in the KT about TV sportstalk babes baring more skin is nothing new, but that dentist they interviewed and his take on the skin thing is likely to creep some people out.

All of which leads me to ask: is it pronounced sports-talk or sport-stalk?

Oh, a self-proclaimed “master” of adult videos, said he felt an adrenalin rush different to what he experiences from such videos when watching the sports round-up.

“The announcers in such shows are not explicit, but sexy, and at the same time they are active and elegant,” he said.

According to Oh, a dentist in Seoul who has to be at his hospital around 7 a.m., he felt compelled to watch the 30-minute-long late-night baseball show and then downloaded all previous episodes.

[Insert “strangulation of fowl” sports reference joke here]

If I was a woman, after reading those quotes, I might be hesitant about being sedated for whatever dental procedure Dr. Oh might suggest.

Granted, you gotta give the guy credit for allowing the use of his full name in the piece, but discussing what seems to be a focused study on the nuanced differences between porn and sports presenters might not be good for ye ole practice.

And to those who would move to prevent sexy sport reporting, Oh goes for the gender rights jugular.

“If somebody wants to criticize the announcers, he or she should consider denouncing those girl groups first. Why can’t they see that the sports-ladies are expressing their beauty?”

Duly noted, big Oh.

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