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Korean students comment on Olympics

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Photo by Mike Pence.

Photo by Mike Pence.

Photo by Mike Pence.

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Calvin junior Somi Yi is involved as a part of the national effort this year at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which began Feb. 9, 2018. As the 23rd Winter Olympics, it features 102 events across 15 different sports, the first time in the history of Winter Olympics that there are over one hundred events.

Somi Yi is in Korea for a visiting student program at Seoul National University and has been working at the Winter Olympics in her time there. She feels the excitement of being part of the Olympics.

“My work is to help [International Olympics Committee] members, directors, and VIP guests. I don’t see many games, so it can sometimes feel distant. However, when I see foreigners and athletes on the streets, it’s crazy,” she said.

“As a citizen of the host country, I work with pride for my country. When I help and contribute to the Olympics, it’s very satisfying, while on the other hand when I hear complaints about the Olympics, it can be very discouraging,” continued Yi.

She explained that her work with VIP guests required great caution, hospitality and manners, which is something she says she experienced during her time at Calvin.

For the first time in eight years, North Korea has sent a delegation of athletes to the Winter Olympics.

Despite failing to meet the deadline requirement to enter athletes, negotiations in early January allowed North Korea to send athletes and a delegation to the Olympics, a sign of de-escalation of tensions between North Korea and the rest of the world.

Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) is a student organization on Calvin’s campus that helps fundraise to rescue refugees from North Korea.

Ji Ho Jeong, a Calvin senior and president of LiNK, expressed her mixed opinions about the North Korean presence in the Olympics this year.

“I think it was a very courageous initiative for the two Koreas to come together and become one team,” she said. “While there were skeptical and negative views about this, I thought there was a glimpse of hope of reunification through this event of Olympics.”

Yeri Kim, vice president of LiNK, voiced some of her concerns about North Korea’s presence in the Olympics.

“The worry and hope I do have … is that others might perceive North Korea as a country where everything is fine even when it is not, and North Korea’s government wants to portray that to the whole world.”

However, Kim concluded that she hopes athletics will unify countries.

“I am personally happy to see the North Koreans interact with other countries and cultures and get more exposure. The hope is that the world will perceive North Korea as people, that they are human and not just people who want to throw bombs at the world.”

At the time of publication, approximately half of the Olympics events have taken place. In medal standings, the top three countries were Germany at nine gold medals, Norway at six gold medals and the Netherlands also with six golds.

The United States is catching up as well, currently at fourth place in medal standings with five gold medals. United States athletes that have won gold include Jamie Anderson in women’s snowboard slopestyle, Chloe Kim in women’s snowboard halfpipe and Shaun White in men’s snowboard halfpipe.

In men’s figure skating, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan won the gold medal despite an injury that put him out of practice for four months during the past year. He is the first person to win gold in men’s figure skating consecutively.

Host country South Korea holds three medals: two gold and one bronze. The two gold medals are from the men’s 1500m short track event and the men’s skeleton sliding event.

Calvin’s international student coordinator Esther Kwak praised the prominence the Olympics has brought its host country.

“It’s super exciting to have Korean culture portrayed in social media as well as the news … and hearing people trying to pronounce PyeongChang,” Kwak said. “It’s cool to see people trying … and it’s great that our country is being promoted through it.”

The Olympics will conclude on Feb. 25, after 17 days of a multitude of games.

1 Comment

One Response to “Korean students comment on Olympics”

  1. Angela on February 24th, 2018 2:54 am

    In total medal standing Canada is 3rd. It’s not just gold medals that count.

    [Reply]

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