UPDATE : 2024.5.20 Mon 00:14
Treatment of Korean Athletes Compared to Other Countries

Viktor Ahn, formally known as Ahn Hyun-soo, earned a bronze medal in the men’s 1,500 meters at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Ahn made headlines by winning Russia’s first short track speed skating medal ever, garnering adoration from the Russian people and the President. Ahn mentioned the reasons why he became a naturalized Russian citizen: the breakup of the Sungnam that Ahn skated for. However, Ahn’s father exposed that “teammates and the coach mapped out strategies to block Ahn from winning gold in 2006 and 2010.” The Korean Sports Association finally admitted the fact. Lee Jeong-soo, a short track gold medal winner in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, gave up participating in the world championship due to pressure from the coach. Aware of this, Ahn decided to become a Korean-turned-Russian short track speed skater to concentrate on skating in peace.

Other athletes also suffered from unfair treatment, such as pressure to bow out, and lack of support and practice time. When Ahn was on the Korean national team, he lacked money for training. After he turned to Russia, they provided all living expenses and a hundred million eight thousand Won annual income. He has personal coaches and a language tutor. Russia promised to make him a professor at Moskva University, with housing provided. The president of the Russian Skating Federation also encouraged Ahn’s girlfriend to accompany him. This treatment is like a dream in Korea.

Figure skating queen Kim Yuna looks splendid, but she also suffers from poor support. Long-time rival Asada Mao has two personal ice rinks and a stretching room. In comparison, Yuna shares ice rinks with many people, and some ice rinks use formaldehyde, causing headaches and vomiting. The Korean Sports Association and the Korean Skating Federation close their eyes to this situation. Moreover, there was no ice rink to practice at for Kim Yuna in Sochi. When Kim Yuna was hurt while practicing, she had to pay all her medical bills.

Korean citizens and broadcasting stations also have problems. Broadcasting stations tend to not broadcast unpopular sports for financial reasons. As a result, Korean people are indifferent to them. There is not any support for the unpopular sport teams. They eat meals by themselves. Koreans want athletes to get only gold medals. This attitude puts pressure on the athletes.

To fix these problems, Koreans should show interest in unpopular sports and encourage athletes instead of blaming them. Because of Victor Ahn’s story, Korean president Park has directed the Ministry of Culture and Sports to monitor the Korean Sports Association and to root out corruption.

However, President Park didn’t direct them to monitor the Korean Skating Federation. According to rumors, the president of the Korean Skating Federation is a son-in-law of Gun-hee Lee, who is the boss of Samsung.

Kim Du ram  -

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