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South Koreans feel Kim is still golden at Olympics

By Hung-Jin Kim

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:41 p.m. HST, Feb 21, 2014

SEOUL » South Koreans still love Yuna Kim. The judges, however, are another matter.

Kim, known as the "Queen" in South Korea, finished with the figure skating silver medal at the Sochi Olympics behind gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova of Russia.

That left many South Koreans furious over what they saw as questionable judging. Local TV replayed her performance repeatedly, likening Kim's performance Thursday with that of Sotnikova's. Commentary was shown in several languages, including some that had predicted gold for Kim.

"I was angry," Bang Sang-ah, a skating commentator for South Korea's SBS television station, said in a local radio interview. "I had expected something like this ... but the home-side advantage (in Russia) was too much."

Most South Korean newspaper front pages focused on Kim's performance over other news items, like tearful reunions of war-divided families from the Koreas.

Kim was trying to become the first to win back-to-back Olympic figure skating golds since Katarina Witt in 1988. The 23-year-old Kim is now retiring, saying she is relieved the Olympics are over and she wants to rest.

The headline in the Maeil Business Newspaper read: "Goodbye, 'Figure Queen' ... We've been happy because you've been with us."

Kim barely won the short program Wednesday but lost to Sotnikova by more than five points in the free skate the next day. Many in Seoul believed the Queen did enough to keep her crown.

"Sports competition is something that has to be fair and square," said Kim Choong-nam, 70, a retired professor, in Seoul. "If it's felt that the judging is unfair, I believe that it goes against the principles of the Olympics."

Allegations of unfair judging in Sochi were among the most popular searches on major portal sites in South Korea, one of the world's most wired nations.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams called this matter over the judging a "purely hypothetical thing." He said any formal complaint would have to be made with the International Skating Union.

"I'm certain there hasn't been any complaint," he said from Sochi. "If it does, that would be the first step to go through. If there isn't a credible complaint, then we wouldn't take it any further."

After winning gold in Vancouver four years ago, Kim left competitive skating for a year, prompting speculation she would not attempt to skate in Sochi. But Kim returned for the 2012-13 season and won her second world title.

Kim will skate in a show in South Korea in May but otherwise has no plans. She will skip next month's world championships in Saitama, Japan.

Kim has said that her mindset was such in Vancouver that she would "die for gold." That passion was missing in Sochi.

"The motivation was a problem, I think," she said.

Still, she remains South Korea's only Olympic champion in figure skating.

"I actually expected her to win the gold medal because her performance was clean," said Yun Hyo-jung, a 22-year-old university student. But, whatever the medal, Yun takes a longer look.

She "made us really happy," Yun said. "And I am thankful for that."

AP's YongJun Chang in Seoul and Stephen Wilson in Sochi contributed to this report.

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awahana wrote:
Here we go again. It's always someone else's fault.
Korean Siege Mentality.
As much as Koreans say they are Christian, most live the societal values of Confucianism, whether they realize it or not.
on February 21,2014 | 05:29AM
loquaciousone wrote:
You need to watch the news more. There were many protests, including one of the American skaters.
on February 21,2014 | 05:54AM
CartwrightPark wrote:
How bout we stick to the issue at hand eh? Yuna Kim is not only considered to be arguably THE best female figure skater in the world, she out performed the Russian girl. Bottom line. Injustice can't be swept under the rug regardless of how you personally feel about Koreans.
on February 21,2014 | 08:48AM
CriticalReader wrote:
Yeah, I happened to watch both. Kim got ripped off. Then again, the Gold Medal really doesn't mean that much by today's cynical standards. What matters are ENDORSEMENT DEALS, whether or not you get a medal. Maybe the Russian girl will bet free tickets to Pussy Riot concerts.
on February 21,2014 | 10:52AM
patk wrote:
There was no injustice, the Koreans are just whiners. As biased and prejudiced as they come. They used to spit and curse at (Steelers) Hines Ward and his mother when he was a little boy, which is why she left Korea for a better life here in America. All biracial children are openly treated as outcasts from Korean society. But then they opened their arms to him and embraced him as their own once he won the Super Bowl MVP.
Pathetic South Koreans. Pathetic.
on February 21,2014 | 11:11AM
patk wrote:
I should temper my own comments with the fact that there are many SK organizations that are doing lots of good (with korea's new wealth) by helping poor and impoverished people around the world.
on February 21,2014 | 11:16AM
bokuchan wrote:
I don't know of any seriously. Name 5.
on February 21,2014 | 02:29PM
1local wrote:
asians have in the past been treated unfairly by caucasions. Just look at the US skating team. The 4th place caucasion was given the opportunity to be on the team - third place asian was not. Happened before when an asian american female skater was passed over for a lower placing caucasion...Asians should respond like african americans ....
on February 21,2014 | 05:42AM
Tarakian wrote:
So, the US skating team would choose a white over a yellow even if it means getting a better skater? Mmm. Please, give me names of coaches or others that have done so.
on February 21,2014 | 01:04PM
managerr wrote:
I dunno, I thought she was definitely better last night. The Russian skater wasn't 5 points better, that's nuts.
on February 21,2014 | 05:45AM
loquaciousone wrote:
"I hear nothing....I see nothing...I know nothing" says, IOC spokesman Mark Adams
on February 21,2014 | 05:53AM
krusha wrote:
They mentioned that Yuna's free skate was a lot less technical and less difficult than when she won the gold four years ago, so that probably factored in to the judging.
on February 21,2014 | 06:12AM
jussayin wrote:
Yup, I heard the same. The Russian skater had a much more technically difficult routine than the S. Korean skater. Despite the controversy, the skating experts are not saying the order or outcome should change. It's more about the relatively large score difference between the skaters. The S. Korean skater needed to add a certain triple jump that was more difficult to up her technical score opportunity. In other words, increase the degree of difficulty.
on February 21,2014 | 07:04AM
bokuchan wrote:
What I wanted to say was that SK in history, never delivered their promises.
on February 21,2014 | 02:31PM
anakemo wrote:
I agree. Although a loss for her, Yuna also commented that the Russian skater did an extra performance than she did. Admirable on her part.
on February 22,2014 | 08:44AM
hunebasami wrote:
Remember Roy Jones in South Korea. He was robbed by the Koreans. They didn't say much then. Payback time and they cry.
on February 21,2014 | 08:19AM
false wrote:
Who is Roy Jones and what happened? You've got agree that any time you have contests judged by humans, there will be differences of opinion, bias, and controversy.. That will be true in judging any sport. Now, let's see. Isn't the next winter Olympics in South Korea? Payback for the payback?
on February 21,2014 | 08:53AM
CartwrightPark wrote:
Roy Jones mopped a SK boxer in Seoul yet the SK boxer won the decision. I wouldnt consider it "payback". Everyone knows that the Olympics, no matter how much they claim to distance themselves from politics, are political in nature. It's happened time and time again. This latest incident doesnt surprise anyone. It's become a part of the Olympics. When discussing these types of incidents, we gotta put our prejudices and biases aside, but clearly some on this comment board no can. Racism is alive and well, even in Hawaii Nei.
on February 21,2014 | 09:17AM
patk wrote:
This is not payback and the two are not comparable. The 1988 Roy Jones Jr. boxing loss to Park was an absolute travesty and one of the worst decisions of all time - not just in boxing or in the Olympics, but in any major sporting event. Google it if you're unaware... Jones absolutely dominated Park to the point that it was not even debatable. Park himself acknowledged that he lost. Two of the three judges were banned for life.
By contrast, this Russian skating gold was a fair decision by over a dozen judges and the Koreans are just whining crybabies.
on February 21,2014 | 11:01AM
kennie1933 wrote:
Anytime you have an event that is JUDGED, whether Olympic events or something as simple as a baking contest, subjectivity always rules. In most sports, the winner is easily determined: first to cross the finish line, fastest time, or most points. When you leave it up to human judgment, there will always be some controversy. If you are an American Idol (or similar show) fan, beauty pageant fan, or even an Iron Chef fan, you should understand this by now. Bottom line is, if you are a participant in such judged events, you should be prepared for any perceived injustice in you score. The only problem I had with the Sochi judges is that 4 of the 14 were Russian, one of them was caught cheating at the Nagano Olympics, and one is married to the head of the Russian Skating Federation. Now, while all four may have given the most fair scores for all we know, it's just the APPEARANCE of possible or potential favoritism exists. There should have been 14 judges, each from a different country, with "clean" records. That also guarantees nothing but at least it APPEARS to be more fair.
on February 21,2014 | 09:51AM
Mei mei wrote:
thank u for that insight kennie.... I also do agree with your comment of diversifying the judges' country representation ....
on February 21,2014 | 12:16PM
Tarakian wrote:
I was cheering for Yuna Kim! The commentators on NBC was spot on! After Yuna's and Adelina performance, commentators said it was Adelina's more technical (i.e. 7 triples vs.6 of Yuna's) vs. Yuna's overall dramatic performance. Seems Adelina got more technical points and the Gold. I trust the commentators fairness and comments. Adelina won. Yuna was still marvelous! Thanks Ladies!
on February 21,2014 | 12:58PM