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Korea... in Blog Format

Tag: Summer Olympics 2012

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)

IOC chief says Dokdo ceremony political, doesn’t seem to care about ‘Rising Sun’ uniforms

Speaking with the JoongAng Ilbo, IOC chairman Jacques Rogge said Korean footballer Park Jong-woo’s “Dokdo ceremony” was clearly political and a violation of IOC and FIFA regulations.

He also stressed that Park was not necessarily being stripped of his medal at the current time. The IOC’s disciplinary commission would decide on his punishment based on a report FIFA will submit Thursday.

When asked if Japan’s “Rising Sun” uniforms violated the ban on political expression, Rogge said it was the first time he’d heard talk of debate regarding the uniforms.

The Korean Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said Monday that—and you really should sit down for this:

The political actions banned by IOC regulations are summarized as “demonstrations” and “political, religious and racial propaganda”… Considering that the sign held by Park that read “Dokdo is our territory” was written not in English, which all the world could understand, but Korean, we judged that it did not correspond to either of them (i.e., a demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda).

Ah, the “It wasn’t meant for you because it wasn’t written in English” defense. Works every time.

The Foreign Ministry also said since Park’s action wasn’t intentional—he’d gotten the sign from the fans in a state of joy—it had nothing to do with political intentions.

What about the ‘Rising Sun’ uniforms?

The Hankyoreh seems to find it odd that nobody apparently has a problem with the Japanese gymnastic team—which has received one gold and two silver medals—wearing uniforms emblazoned with, in the words of the Asahi’s English edition, “a stylized version of the rising sun.”

Something I didn’t know—according to the Hankyoreh, the United States banned Japan from using the “rising sun flag” in 1945, but in 1952, the Japanese used it again as their battle standard with the formation of the Naval Self-Defense Force, leading to criticism that the United States allowed this because it needed Japan’s help during the Korean War.

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?

Diver’s faces while diving

Been nothing but disturbing news coming out of the Olympics here on MH, so lets go with some disturbing imagery that’s actually quite fun.

I won’t say it’s gone “viral,” because I am really sick of hearing that term, so let’s just say, a lotta people are looking at it.

So much for the “graceful” art of Olympic diving.

You can see more here.

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).”

More Olympic-sized BS

The Korea Times reports that a “series of blunders compromise Olympic credibility.”

Honestly, I was unaware that the Olympics actually had any credibility.

In fact, I’d been operating under the impression that as an organization, the Olympics were only slightly more corrupt than Mobutu’s Zaire.

Anyway, KoreaBANG has much more on Korean reactions to the Olympic officiating. Needless to say, some quarters of Korean cyberspace feel very, very aggrieved.

UPDATE: How aggrieved do they feel? Well, according to the Seoul Sinmun (quoting the German press), the Austrian judge’s email and phone number have been leaked online, and she’s getting threats via Twitter. And her Facebook page is under siege.

For her part, Shin isn’t taking the judgement sitting down (rim shot). She’s apparently refusing a special award from fencing’s governing body:

Fencing’s governing body announced that heartbroken South Korean Shin A Lam will receive ‘a special medal’ after she felt she was robbed of a proper one in the women’s epee on Monday night.

The medal will be for ‘aspiration to win and respect for the rules,’ said the International Fencing Federation in a statement.

But Shin said: ‘It does not make me feel better because it’s not an Olympic medal.

‘I don’t accept the result because I believe it was a mistake.’

Yeah, tell it to Roy Jones, Jr..

And yes, the brick-by-brick account at The Guardian was quite cute (HT to Q):

UPDATE 2: German fencer Britta Heidemann’s Facebook page is apparently under assault, too. Judging from the title of the article, there may be nude photos of Ms. Heidemann floating around somewhere, too.

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