London Olympics 2012: Korea’s Journey

Written by on August 14, 2012 in Special Report, Worldwide Korea Bloggers

* This post is written by Korean Class Massive, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.

Now that the Olympics has finished and our lives can go back to normal, we’re sure many of you are feeling a bit deflated. Need one more dose of anything and everything Olympics related? Let us take you through one last overview of how Korea did in the 2012 Olympics.

Final medal count for Korea. Amazing!

So many emotions!

Following any sporting event can be an emotional time and while watching the fortunes of the South Korean team we had a ridiculous amount of nervous and ‘sitting on the edge of the seat’ moments. One of the biggest and most memorable emotional roller coaster moments was when Shin A Lam was left sitting by herself, crying, in the middle of the fencing piste for over an hour. After an epee match, where a timer malfunction ultimately led to her losing the match, she had to wait by herself on the piste while her coach went to dispute the result. The debate raged for over an hour as to who should have won the match, and all the while Shin was unable to leave her position or it would mean she accepted her loss. As she sat there in the arena, in relative darkness, while the whole crowd watched her emotional turmoil, you couldn’t help but feel your heart go out to her. She was so brave enduring this hour by herself, but you could tell the whole audience where with her as constant calls of support were sent out to her.

Other moments of emotion and nerves could be found in the archery matches. During the gold medal match of the women’s individual archery, after 5 sets apiece, Ki Bo Bae found herself in a one arrow shoot off situation with opponent Aida Roman of Mexico. One shot, one chance to win the gold! Ki Bo Bae went first, and as her arrow struck a score of 8, you could tell she thought she’d lost it. She turned away, obviously thinking she’s lost the match as Aida Roman had been scoring 9s most of the time. However, to everyone’s surprise, Aida also shot an 8, but further away of the bulls eye, meaning Ki Bo Bae won! The amount of tension during this shoot off was insane. Lord’s Cricket ground was completely silent as these two women took their last shots, but soon huge cheers resounded for Ki’s win.

Emotions, both good and bad, were stirred to the max for the football bronze medal match against Japan. The gold match was overshadowed by the hype about the two countries competing for this medal. The stadium in Cardiff was packed, and support for both countries from the crowds in the stadium was immense. For many people in the UK, some of the tension between Japan and Korea was unknown, but the commentators were billing this match as one filled with a lot of underlying feelings and predicted that players would be sent off sooner or later. Within no time, yellow cards were being handed out and the race to score goals was on. By the time Korea had scored its second goal, time was running out, it seemed clear the bronze was Korea’s. Waiting for these final minutes to tick down felt like forever; could Korea keep their lead, would Japan level the score right at the last minute?! As the last seconds of extra time passed and Korea won, the emotions were clear – Korea was elated and Japan was devastated. It should be said that both sides played really well and at the end of the game handshakes and hugs were exchanged. For both sides, it was hard carrying the pressures of a game where there where other background factors added pressure. There was a bonus for the Korean team in winning this medal – they have been excused from mandatory military service! The Coach was super clever during the game and made sure that all the players had a turn on the pitch so they could say they played in the match and be in for a chance of a medal and exemption. There was one controversial point to this match that came after the game had finished, keep reading to find out all the controversies of the Olympics.

Before these Olympics we’re sure there are many other people out there, like us, who’d never heard of the sport of handball before, but have since become fans! The women’s bronze medal match was so epically tense and emotional that it was hard even watching it! This match against Spain went down to the wire, and had not one, but two sets of extra time. Every time you thought Korea had levelled the score, Spain came back in force and got one ahead. The Korean’s team faces were heart breaking when the match had ended. It was clear how much winning the bronze would have meant for them. However, the Korean women’s handball team is made of stern stuff, and Coach Kang Jae Won is reported to have said “I see this result less as a defeat than an opportunity for our players to gain experience. I think the experience today was just as valuable as winning a gold medal. I hope that the players can build on this and post better results at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro” (quote source). Looking forward to seeing how they do in 2012!

Even when the games finished, the athletes, and citizens who were supporting them, were not without emotional dramas of their own. There was heated discussion when the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) called for medal winners to stay on in London to attend a Korean War Veterans ceremony. People were angry as they saw this as practically forcing the athletes to give up their own time, and in some cases having to re-book air plane tickets home, to attend this event. People argued that injured athletes, some of whom needed surgery, being forced to stay was ridiculous, and that athletes who didn’t win medals but wanted to stay for the ceremony shouldn’t have been forced to go home as they had just as much right to go as medallists. Comments from netizens include such quotes as “The players toiled and moiled for four to 12 years for this one time Olympic event. Don’t insult them and judge them according to your own criteria. Whether obtaining a medal or not, they are all Korea’s representatives. Preventing medallists from homecoming and forcing non-medallists to go home, it is not your money, it’s the taxpayer’s. It is you KOC executives who should come home as soon as possible to save taxpayer’s money,” (quote source). And that’s not the only controversy for South Korea.


Don’t forget the the Paralympics are heading our way soon. They start on the 29th of August, and Korea will be competing. We’re sure they’ll do amazingly and can’t wait to see all the different events they’ll be in. Details of the Korean team will be available at this link soon.

About the Author


The Worldwide Korea Bloggers (WKB) is a gathering of people from different parts of the world, all having affection for Korea. Currently, there are 50 bloggers from 17 different countries and they share their own precious experiences with Korea and its culture on Korea Blog.