— KingSejong (@KingSejong) February 17, 2018
Via a reader tip comes this BBC article that explains how many on South Korean social media are wondering what would have happened if American Winter Olympic Gold Medalist Chloe Kim was born in South Korea?:
The teenager’s name was the most searched on Naver, South Korea’s largest portal, as many swelled with pride at her performance. Kim’s parents are South Koreans who emigrated to the United States in 1982.
But some social media users in the country are keenly imagining alternative lives for the unstoppable 17-year-old Californian, asking could she have achieved gold if she’d been born in South Korea?
“If she grew up in South Korea, she would be stuck on the bus going to academies (hagwon) all day,” one Naver used commented, referring to the country’s culture of encouraging long hours of studying and suggesting she would not have had the opportunity to become an athlete.
“If you were born in my country, you would be doing extra study at this hour. Envy you, American,” another wrote. [BBC]
You can read more at the link, but if she was born in South Korea and her parents wanted her to pursue a sports career it likely would not have been in snowboarding because of the lack of facilities to train. She likely would have been a speed skater considering the emphasis put on the sport in South Korea.
Chloe Kim is America’s latest Winter Olympic star and this has caused the media to focus on the immigrant past of her father:
Seventeen-year-old Chloe Kim made headlines on Tuesday after she won gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics in the women’s snowboard halfpipe final with three incredible runs. And her devoted father has also found himself in the spotlight after his daughter’s spectacular show.
Jong Jin Kim watched from the grandstand at the base of the halfpipe with a sign that read “Go Chloe!” while shouting “American dream!” as his daughter made history.
Jong Jin Kim was an immigrant from South Korea who arrived in South Carolina in 1982 with just $800 to his name, reported CNN. His first job in America was a dishwasher at a fast-food restaurant before he graduated to cashier at a liquor store.
But had Kim’s family attempted to enter the U.S. under the administration of President Donald Trump, it is uncertain whether they would have been permitted.
During his January 31 State of the Union speech, Trump urged Congress to pass legislation that promotes “merit-based immigration,” describing it as a system that “admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society.” [Newsweek]
You can read more at the link, but clearly Mr. Kim wanted to work and contribute to society. So the crux of the issue becomes he wasn’t a skilled worker when he entered the US. While in the US he studied and became a skilled worker later.
Unsurprisingly South Korea is hosting the Winter Olympics at an enormous financial cost to the country:
Leave it to Andrew Zimbalist to throw cold water on an even colder Winter Olympics. The Smith College economics professor and long-time Olympics skeptic hopped on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to spill the beans on the pitfalls of the PyeongChang Games.
The most stunning nuggets? That South Korea is staring down a loss north of $10 billion for hosting this year’s international festivities.
“At the end of the day, they spent $13 billion. They’ll get back about $2.5 billion,” Zimbalist said. “The only way you can justify that kind of a terrible balance is if, in the long run, it’s going to promote tourism, promote trade and promote foreign investment.
“There’s no evidence from other Olympics that that might happen.”
That astronomical bill stems, in part, from building scantly used Olympic venues — and not just the $109 million ceremonial stadium in PyeongChang. The organizers also spent untold sums to clear 58,000 trees from a sacred forest on Mount Gariwang, where the Alpine skiing course was subsequently constructed.
Beyond that, South Korea spent billions on infrastructure to connect PyeongChang to the South Korean capital of Seoul. Even with the addition of high-speed rail, the commute still clocks in close to two hours.
Some of these costs might be justifiable if the host country’s citizens were enthusiastic about snow and ice activities. But to hear Zimbalist tell it, “The South Koreans are not very fond of winter sports in general.” [Yahoo Sports]
You can read more at the link, but the article goes on to explain how only 60% of the tickets for the events have been sold showing how little interests locals have in the games. What is even sadder about this economic loss is that the biggest winner of the Winter Olympics has so far been North Korea with their propaganda coup all at the ROK government’s expense.
That didn’t take long for joint women’s hockey team to get eliminated:
The joint Korean women’s hockey team was eliminated in the preliminary round at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Monday, following its 8-0 loss to Sweden.
Korea suffered its second straight loss in Group B play, at Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung, site of all ice events during the Olympics, two days after falling to Switzerland 8-0. The shots were 50-19 for Sweden.
Korea needed to finish in the top two in Group B to reach the knockout stage. And with the two losses, it won’t get there regardless of the result against Japan in Group B finale on Wednesday, which will also take place at Kwandong.
Sweden, which earlier beat Japan 2-1, and Switzerland have two wins apiece. They’ll clash on Wednesday at Kwandong with the top seed at stake. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link, but the women’s hockey team was not expected to do much in the Winter Olympics. With that said I have to wonder how much the fact that the North Koreans were added to the the team just a few weeks before the Olympics impacted their play? The team is getting drubbed and has not scored a goal yet.
For being a supposed Asia expert, Joshua Ramo made quite the blunder with his statements about Korea and Japan during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics:
NBC Sports analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo has been relieved from its PyeongChang Olympic coverage after enraging many Koreans with ignorant remarks about their country.
An NBC Sports spokesperson, who refused to be named, told The Korea Times Sunday that Ramo has been removed from the role.
“It was possible for him to do more with us here; now it is no longer possible,” the official said.
Ramo angered Koreans here and overseas by saying during the opening ceremony on Friday, “Every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.”
NBC apologized for the comment.
“NBC issued an apology in a written letter to the PyeongChang Organizing Committee, and on air, regarding the comments made by one of our presenters during our coverage of the opening ceremony,” the official said. “NBC has great respect and admiration for South Korea and its people.”
The official explained that NBC hired Ramo “to serve as an Asia expert during the opening ceremony. His role was to give an overview to our viewers of the host country and this region of the world.” [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but problem number is one is to claim “every Korean will tell you”. It would be more accurate to say some Koreans may believe Japan was important to the development of South Korea, but many other would disagree which is quite evident by the simmering tensions remaining today. Problem number two is why even go down this political rabbit hole during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics? Can’t these commentators just talk about the athletes and their accomplishments?
Via a reader tip comes news that a virus is spreading among workers at the Winter Olympics:
Some security agents responsible for the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games have been infected with norovirus, forcing organizers to quarantine about 1,200 agents and replace them with soldiers.
The committee categorized 41 staff members as “suspected patients” on Monday.
Earlier the day, the committee had said three of them were confirmed to have contracted the virus, also known as the winter vomiting bug, while 38 were suspected of having it.
The patients vomited and suffered from stomach pains. Some of the agents were in charge of the athletes’ village, raising concerns that the virus may affect international athletes who will stay there.
The patients, mostly university students, were hired by a recruiting agency to provide workforce for screening at the entrance of venues.
Organizers said the virus appeared to have originated from Horeb Odaesan Youth Training Center in PyeongChang, where the agents stayed in a room for six in a group of 10. The Institute of Health and Environment under Gangwon Province Office found traces of the virus in a drinking water dispenser, and in shower rooms and in washroom basins. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but if a number of athletes get sick because of this virus, this will be a major setback for South Korea who is hosting the games.
Via a reader tip comes this article about another free agent signing by South Korea for the upcoming Olympic Games. At least he earned his spot on the team and did not have it handed to him like the North Korean female ice hockey players:
In 2013-14, without much to lose, he signed with Anyang Halla, a team based about 12 miles south of Seoul, South Korea. He was driven to his apartment directly from the airport but couldn’t sleep because of jet lag. So he walked around the city and took it all in — the skyscrapers, the frantic bustling on the streets, the colorful billboards, all in a language he did not recognize. “What did I sign up for?” he wondered.
Five years later, Testwuide’s hockey career has been revived. He has rediscovered his passion for the game. He’s playing some of the best hockey of his life. In fact, Testwuide is getting ready to play on the world’s biggest stage, as an Olympian — and with a South Korean flag stitched to his jersey.
The tale of how a kid from Colorado became a South Korean citizen — with no connections or roots to the country — is quite remarkable. That Testwuide is preparing to be an Olympian is unfathomable, even to him. [ESPN]
You can read the rest at the link, but it is unclear from the article if he still has US citizenship or not. If he has dual citizenship then he gets the benefits of both playing in the Olympics and still being an American.
The free agency in international sporting competitions continues to grow:
An American forward is set to play for South Korea men’s national basketball team, having completed the naturalization process on Monday.
Ricardo Ratliffe, who plays for the Seoul Samsung Thunders in the Korean Basketball League (KBL), passed his citizenship interview with the Ministry of Justice for special naturalization in the area of sports. He will be now eligible to play for the national team.
Ratliffe, a Virginia native, is considered one of the top foreign players in the KBL. The 28-year-old won the league championship in three consecutive seasons with Ulsan Mobis Phoebus from 2012 to 2015, before moving to the Thunders.
For the last six seasons, Ratliffe averaged 18.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. He also won the KBL’s top foreign player award twice.
Ratliffe is the fourth foreign basketball player to earn South Korean citizenship through the special naturalization process, following Moon Tae-young, Moon Tae-jong and Kim Han-byeol. However, since the previous players all had South Korean mothers, Ratliffe is the first naturalized player not of Korean descent [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link.