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Korea... in Blog Format

Category: Korean Sports (page 2 of 9)

Korean football chief apologizes for apologizing

The handling of the “Olympic Dokdo Sign Incident” has now reached a new level of farce.

Korean Football Association chief Cho Chung-yun apologized before the National Assembly on Friday for sending an apologetic letter to the head of the Japan Football Association for Park Jong-woo’s “Dokdo Ceremony”:

During a question-and-answer session of the National Assembly’s committee on culture and sports, Cho Chung-yun, head of the Korea Football Association (KFA), apologized for a controversial letter sent by the KFA to the Japan Football Association (JFA).

The letter, written in English, was sent Monday, days after Korea’s Park Jong-woo, in celebrating his team’s 2-0 victory over Japan in the bronze medal match in London, carried around a sign that read in Korean, “Dokdo Is Our Territory.” The letter came under fire for its apologetic tone and for the KFA’s apparent acknowledgment of Park’s wrongdoing.

“I’d like to sincerely apologize for the trouble this letter has caused,” Cho told lawmakers. “When the situation demands, then I can take the responsibility.”

According to the Korea Times, critics contend that “the KFA admitted Park had engaged in inappropriate behavior before any official ruling from either FIFA or the International Olympic Committee (IOC).”

Judging from USFK’s recent apologies, I’d thought that’s how things are supposed to be done over here, but I guess not.

Anyway, the JoongAng Ilbo got a hold of the “shocking” email and posted it to their website. It’s just barely legible, but if you look closely at your monitor, you can make it out. Ordinarily, I’d say aside from the fact Cho should have had it copy-edited before clicking “send,” I can’t see anything wrong with Cho’s letter. It’s the sort of boilerplate apology you’d be expected to send after an incident like this.

If anything, Cho understated things by denying Park’s act was political, when anyone who’s not intentionally bullshitting him or herself knows it was.

I said “ordinarily,” however, because sadly, I know exactly what the problem with Cho’s letter is. I’m pretty sure the higher-ups at the Korean Olympic Committee, Korea Football Association and elsewhere know perfectly well that Park’s “Dokdo ceremony” was unacceptable and inexcusable. You don’t need an IOC judgement to apologize in this case—Park’s act speaks for itself. The problem is, public sentiment regarding, well, most things Japan-related is so poisonous, officials can’t do what needs to be done—at least publicly—even in such an obvious situation like this. Sure, given Japan’s history of forced, half-ass apologizes for things much worse than waving a Dokdo sign, there’s probably some degree of karma to that, but I can’t see how it helps, either with Japan or, in this case, with the greater international community.

Koreans wins big at Olympics. But do they actually believe it?

That’s sort of what Evan Ramstad asks at the WSJ’s Korea Realtime blog:

Maybe the Korean Olympic Committee was low-balling expectations. Or maybe South Koreans just can’t see themselves as world leaders in sports. After all, no matter the evidence to the contrary, they don’t see themselves that way in business or economics or politics.

But as The Who sang the athletes out of the closing ceremony on Monday morning Korea time, the tally on the medal board could not be denied. South Korea had 13 gold medals, fifth-highest total of the Games, and more than more populous countries like Japan, France, Italy, Brazil and Spain, let alone giants like India and Indonesia.
[...]
Even so, a government sports official could be counted upon to again declare that South Korea was at last among the world’s great nations instead of recognizing that it has been there for awhile now.

You do hear rhetoric like that—i.e., about Korea becoming or joining the ranks of the developed—quite a bit. Part of it is political, but I think a lot of it is that Korea grew so quickly, a lot of folk still don’t seem to believe where the country is in the global pecking order now.

(HT to Wangkon)

Korean footballer denied bronze medal for Dokdo sign

Boy, this was seriously ill-advised, not to mention just plain classless (HT to my brother):

A South Korean soccer player was barred from receiving his bronze medal at the London Olympics on Saturday for displaying a sign with a political message after a victory over Japan in the third-place game.

The player, Park Jong-soo, held up a sign after South Korea’s 2-0 victory over Japan, claiming South Korean sovereignty over a set of barely inhabitable islands that are also claimed by Japan.

Mr. Park, a midfielder, played all 90 minutes of the game on Friday in Cardiff, Wales, then was photographed carrying a sign that read, “Dokdo is our territory.” The islands, called Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, lie in an area of rich fishing grounds and natural gas deposits.

Park is now being investigated by the International Olympic Committee and FIFA.

A Korean Football Association official told the Dong-A Ilbo that it seems the “Dokdo ceremony” was not pre-planned. Rather, there were lots of folk in the stands with “Dokdo is our territory” signs in the stands (not cool in and of itself), and it appears Park got one of the signs from a spectator in the post-game excitement.

The thing people are wondering now is whether Park will lose his military service exemption if he is ultimately stripped of his medal. According to the Hanguk Gyeongje, the netizens are divided over the issue—some think he should keep his exemption, others think he should take responsibility for what he did. I haven’t checked out what’s being said on Twitter, but I’m guessing the opinions aren’t evenly split in this case.

This is not the first time Korean players/teams have engaged in this sort of thing during international sporting competitions—see here, here and here.

I don’t want to sound preachy, but I think the KOC, KFA or whoever needs to send a message that this is a) unacceptable, and b) internationally embarrassing. Stripping Park of his military service exemption might help.

Yang Hak-seon wins Korea’s first Olympic gymnastics gold

Holy crap:

Kimchi Fingers a.k.a. Korean women good with their hands

Sometimes, this blog just writes itself:

The ‘theory’ goes that Korean women excel at feel sports such as archery and golf because of heightened sensitivity and dexterity in their hands and fingers.

This sensitivity supposedly developed generations ago through the traditional method of making the national dish kimchi, where women use their hands to lovingly squeeze, swirl and smear hot pepper paste over cabbage leaves for hours on end.

“South Korean women have more sensitive hands than any other women in the world,” said Baek Woong-gi, an archery coach for the Korean national team, before the team flew to London for the Olympics.

“They do things so well with their hands. When Korean women cook, it’s as if their hands are giving the food more flavour or taste.”

I direct you to Brian’s post from 2008.

Football: Korea tops UK

A shoot-out exit for the Brits. Shocking, I know:

One of the greatest days British sport has ever known ended with a sadly familiar quarter-final penalty shoot-out exit to South Korea in Cardiff.

Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge missed the vital last kick, allowing Celtic’s Ki Sungyueng to send South Korea into a last four meeting with Brazil at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Sturridge was clearly angry and upset as he made his way off the field, although it could be argued Aaron Ramsey was equally culpable as he also missed from the spot in normal time when the Wales midfielder had a chance to put Britain in front.

Personally, I blame Ryan Giggs for not singing “God Save the Queen.”

Sit down for this: Netizens misbehaving on social media

I know, I was shocked, too:

Amidst worldwide claims that Australian referee, Barbara Csar, failed to point out some faults in Heidemann’s play, such as maintaining the correct distance and starting before the clock began ticking, Korean netizens searched online to find out more about the referee and Shin’s opponent.

Csar and Heidemann were easily located on Facebook, and soon their walls were full of messages rebuking them for what happened. When their accounts were blocked from public view, netizens started to write on the wall of Heidemann’s boyfriend, and revealed contact information online.

Many, however, are concerned that this will cause emotional strife between Korea and Germany, including German media such as Der Spiegel, a weekly magazine that wrote an article titled “Referee Csar Insulted on the Internet.”

Not sure what this means, either:

The high rate of Korean athletes involved in judging controversies has the country up in arms, in particular, whether the referees are biased against Team Korea. Sports watchers are saying that despite improved performances by South Korean athletes, the prowess of the country’s sports diplomacy has yet to develop.

The country currently has two members on the International Olympic Committee — Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee and Moon Dae-sung, former Olympic taekwondo gold medalist.

Jesus H. Christ, a half-country of 50,000 million currently sits No. 3 in the gold medal count. How much more above Korea’s weight do they want the country to punch?

On a slightly positive note, Mongolian judoka Naidan Tuvshinbayar took silver in the 100 kg weight category, losing in the finals to a Russian as President Putin looked on. He was the reigning gold medalist (not to mention a Hero of Labor!), so I suppose this is something of a disappointment. All things considered (and by all things, we mean Uncle Vlad sitting in the stands), though, it wasn’t such a bad result.

Oh, and just out of curiosity, is there an archery team out there not coached by a Korean?

Britta Heidemann posed for German Playboy in 2004

As the earlier Korean report said, German fencer Britta Heidemann—a.k.a. the One who Robbed Shin A-lamdid in fact pose for German Playboy in 2004 (NSFW).

Feel free to Google for more photos on your own.

If it makes Shin feel any better, Heidemann lost in the gold medal match.

Four Korean badminton players DISQUALIFIED

I think Bobby might be editing his post below, but just in case, it has just been reported that eight badminton players—two Chinese, two Indonesians and four Koreans—have been disqualified for trying to throw their matches.

At least the Koreans have an excuse, says their coach:

South Korea head coach Sung Han-kook said his two pairings attempted to throw their matches against China’s world champion duo and the Indonesians but added it was in retaliation against the Chinese team who instigated the situation.

He said the Chinese deliberately tried to throw the first of the tainted matches to ensure their leading duo of Yu and Wang would not meet the country’s number two pair until the gold medal decider.

“The Chinese started this. They did it first,” Sung told reporters through an interpreter. “It’s a complicated thing with the draws. They didn’t want to meet each other in the semi-final.

“So we did the same. We didn’t want to play the South Korean team again (in the knockout stages).”

Please don’t assault the mascot

Havoc and mayhem ensued at Saturday’s fixture between Incheon United and Daejeon Citizen after two irate Daejeon supporters rushed the pitch and assaulted Yuti, Incheon’s mascot, at the conclusion of the match.

And why yes, Yuti is a red-crowned crane. Or at least a 34-year-old dude dressed up like a red-crowned crane. The hapless man, who requested anonymity, complained to the Sports Chosun that he did nothing to provoke the attack, and never even saw the faces of the guys who did it.

Which is understandable, since he was dressed up like a red-crowned crane.

The assault spilled over into the stands, where there was some scuffling between Daejeon and Incheon supporters.

Daejeon Citizen, for its part, has banned the two guys from attending both home and away games for the rest of the year. Daejeon supporters, while careful not to justify the wanton attack on Yuti, did claim the mascot has been “provoking” them continuously for three years (great photo, BTW). How was not specified.

Koreas unify… on FC Basel

Interesting little blog post at ESPN on Swiss side FC Basel’s Park Joo-Ho of South Korea and Pak Kwang-Ryong of North Korea:

Before the start of the second half, a pair of first-year Basel players sat beside one another on the bench, stretched out their legs, admired Marbella’s royal-blue sky and appeared to make small talk. No surprise there; they are teammates after all. But what no one appeared to notice — not that there were many people there besides a hundred or two maniacal Feyenoord supporters — was the geo-political gravitas of this potential photo-op. It is, quite literally, a photo that is not allowed to be taken: Park Joo-Ho of South Korea, Basel’s 25-year-old starting left back, sat beside Pak Kwang-Ryong of North Korea, the team’s 19-year-old substitute forward.

For Koreans on either side of the 38th parallel — the world’s most heavily fortified border — there can be severe consequences for fraternizing with the enemy. The armistice that ended the Korean War was signed on July 27, 1953, but a peace treaty was never put in place; technically, the two countries remain at war. In the Communist North, those suspected of mere contact with South Koreans are, according to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2012, subject to lengthy terms in “horrendous detention facilities or forced labor camps with chronic food and medicine shortages, harsh working conditions, and mistreatment by guards.” Though the democratic South has far more freedoms, its far-reaching National Security Law continues to stifle any exchange with, and interest in, North Korea. In short: A South Korean and a North Korean should not be shooting the breeze on a sunny afternoon in Spain.

It’s a fascinating post and well worth the read.

(HT to reader)

Koreans don’t eat frog legs – they drink them!

According to Reuters (March 5. 2012), a Korean organization named Frog Friends (I am not sure but this may actually be the group Toad Friends) is trying to get Manchester United Park Ji-sung to join their efforts to help save frogs and other amphibians in Korea.  According to the article:

Park is South Korea’s best known soccer player and said that his father had fed him frog juice to boost his stamina.

“If Park joins our campaign to stop the practice, it would correct people’s misperceptions about eating frogs, believing it will raise their stamina,” said the lobby group.

Good luck with that.

“I do not know if it is just coincidence but after it was revealed… that Park eats frogs as a means to boost his strength, the number of cases of illegal poaching of frogs and toads residing in mountains has increased,” campaign organiser Park Wan-hee was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency on Monday.

I found this comment on the page of an evironmentalist who visited Korea rather odd – “I was happy to learn that Koreans do not eat frog legs”  Not sure about the leg part but I do know that Koreans – at least in the past – ate whole frogs.

Many many years ago I went to Andong city with a Korean friend and was surprised that there was no real place to drink.  We finally found a pochang macha (tent that sold drinks and snacks) where  I was the only foreign customer and we, my friend and I, were the youngest people in the place by at least two decades.  I had just started learning Korean and my friend barely spoke English so our conversations were basically done by hand signals, body language and a couple of dictionaries.  Like many people who first arrive in Korea – I was determined to have an open mind and try whatever food was placed in front of me.

My friend ordered for us and soon we had our macholi and, much to my surprise, three whole boiled frogs – complete with innards.  My friend grabbed the frog by the face and plopped it in his mouth.  I still remember the frog’s flaked skin on the sides of his mouth and the expectant looks of the assembled old Korean men – all wondering if I would eat one.  I did.  The frog literally exploded in my mouth.  It took a lot of macholi before I could wash that taste out of my mouth – most of it supplied by those old yangbans in that tent.  I don’t think I need to add, but I will, that the third frog was consumed by my friend.

I still occasionally see dried frogs in the markets in Seoul and every time I do it reminds me of my first and last experience of eating frog.

More on Kim Seong-min

About this post on pitcher Kim Seong-min, I got a message from Yonhap copy-editor Tracie Barrett who says Kim contract was not, in fact, declared null and void but only delayed for 30 days, during which he can stay in the United States but must train on his own, not with the team. “No lost job, no lost half million dollars,” she said, also noting that she has checked with Yonhap sports writer Yoo Jee-ho, who has been covering this story quite closely.

Koreans to help rescue Dodgers?

It looks like E-Land is leading a consortium looking to rescue the LA Dodgers from the McCourts.

MUST READ: “The True Origins of Pizza: Irony, the Internet and East Asian Nationalisms”

In Japan Focus, Stephen Epstein and Rumi Sakamoto discuss The Pizza Ad and the various reactions.

Here’s just a sample:

Irony can be a risky strategy in the absence of obvious cues to tip it off, as anyone who has ever had an intended attempt at humor in e-mail misconstrued knows well. This factor lies in part behind the striking differences in the like/dislike ratios of mirrored versions of the same video. Moreover, when in-group discourse such as that of 2-channeru leaves its immediate context, we encounter strong reaction against it by those who don’t share the same sensibilities. Even the same internet site can, as a result of contingent circumstance and circulation, develop different “cultures of commenting” on different mirrored webpages. We have made clear our own subject position in regard to this Mr. Pizza ad as New Zealand-based scholars who work on questions of East Asian nationalisms and national identity in the Web 2.0 era: we find it a stroke of genius. Many academic friends with whom we have shared it have agreed. Yet, we also recognize that our position is merely one possible reaction and can hardly be taken as authoritative. YouTube commenters are regularly asking each other “Is this a joke?” or “Should one find this funny?” Indeed, part of the humor is that for several seconds, we too, on a first viewing, were uncertain whether we were seeing an expression of East Asian nationalistic debates over product originsin extremis.

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