The 2018 PyeongChang Olympics started off with disputes regarding the participation of North Korea. Whatever the Olympics planners hoped for the ceremony, whether it was promising the security of the international society from nuclear weapons or strengthening international alliance, Pyeong Chang was filled with dramatic scenes on rinks and slopes for all Koreans. Unexpected medalists have become national heroes overnight, presenting joyful moments to the country and its people.
However, there were also moments lacking the Olympic spirit, especially in South Korean female skaters’ team pursuit race.
When two of the skaters crossed the finish line leaving one of their members behind with quite a huge gap, people started to question at the race the female skaters showed. The moment that started the big uproar that led to a 600,000 petition happened during an interview that took place after the race.
Criticisms stormed towards Kim, who was one of the skaters, when she blamed the third member Noh for the disappointing results. Considering the number for the petitions to reinvestigate sexual assaults by one of the most famous theater director Lee Yoon-taek, which turned out to include rape that led to abortion of some victims, participants for the petition to expel the skater from the national team showed a rather unusual rise in its numbers.
It is clearly a fact that she lacked sportsmanship and qualities to represent the country but we should take a step behind to see what has happened. A huge number of people, more than the whole population of the city Anyang, have all come together to forfeit a female skater from the national team for her attitudes, banning her from all international competitions including the Olympics. The skater may have done wrong - but it is clear that she deserves a chance to make up for her mistake.
Olympic is a global event, and members of the national team do have the obligation to represent their country in a positive light but the point being is, is the criticism heading in the right direction? There were numerous suspects about what was stirring inside the team but one thing for sure is that The Korea Skating Union is being irresponsible for what has led to the disappointing scene in the female team pursuit race.
The petition should have been headed more towards the union more than the individual, not combined into a single petition. However, the public opinion is tilted towards expelling Kim than blaming the union and even a separate petition leaving out the Korea Skating Union was proposed once again.
We should shift the point to how much emotional burden Noh had to go through from the conflicts within her team and the pressure she got from the skating union. She was devastated by the result of the race and humiliated nationwide by a fellow skater via a broadcasted interview right after the race.
The necessary part is to think over if expelling Kim was the only way people could have shown their support for Noh. There must have been other ways for us to show that we stand by her side.
Even after Kim became the silver medalist for the female mass start race, the crowd was cold and she only expressed her apologies without commenting on her victory. Only she would know about sincerity of the remorse she expressed in front of the camera, but she should at least be given a chance to prove her sincerity. Everyone makes mistakes.