South Korea cleaned up pretty well at this year’s summer Olympics in Rio, but they're already looking ahead to PyeongChang in 2018!
by Rachelle "Roach"
The country snagged 21 medals in Brazil, nine of them gold. As expected, the Korean archers led the charge, although they couldn’t quite pull off the golden sweep. Inbee Park’s gold medal was a bit more of a surprise. The golfer has been a leader in her sport, but as recently as a month ago she wasn’t sure if she could compete in Rio due to a thumb injury. Apparently, it looks like it didn't bother her too much! Park got back into Korea’s Incheon Airport at 4 a.m. earlier this week, but that didn’t stop throngs of proud fans from greeting her there in what Korean press deemed a “hero’s welcome.”
Five of the country’s remaining medals came from its Taekwondo masters, and the rest went to athletes competing in shooting, fencing, judo, weightlifting, wrestling, and badminton. Korea didn’t get its first ever Olympic medal in rhythmic gymnastics, but Son Yeon Jae came as close as she could, finishing fourth in the overall competition. The smiling gymnast has captured the attention of Korea, and seemed to be pretty emotionally drained from what was probably a grueling four years of training. In a tearful interview following her competition, Son said she did the best she could and thanked her team and fans for their support.
All eyes will be on Korea next time the Olympics roll around. It’s the host country for the 2018 Winter Olympics, set to be held in PyeongChang. The country is laser-focused on making a cost-effective, efficient winter event that keeps competitors and spectators happy, safe, and – most importantly – really, really, jazzed about Korea. The nation is right on schedule to show off both new and old. Korea’s culture and history is reportedly going to play a huge role in the lead-up to the Games and the hype surrounding the events. But there are some shiny new things to show off, too. Those include a new high-speed train for shuttling people between Seoul and PyeongChang in less than an hour and a revamping of some of the area’s gorgeous skiing venues. Korea is hoping that will help it turn into an Asian skiing destination for years to come. Also, Lee Min-ho is the honorary ambassador. Yup.
Korea is also hoping that its neighbors to the north will see the games as an expression of goodwill. When Seoul hosted in 1988, North Korea boycotted, but organizers are hopeful that the same won't happen 40 years later. If you're not the type to get too hyped about the athletics or infrastructure of the Olympics, DON'T WORRY! There are still two great reasons to tune in to the 2018 Olympic coverage. Their names are Soohorang (수호랑) and Bandabi (반다비), and they're just about the cutest mascots anyone could ask for (besides Mandoo, of course!).
So long, Rio, and well done, Korean athletes! See you in 2018, PyeongChang!