Sunday, August 22, 2004


Well, I can't say I didn't predict it. Even before I had heard of the judging error that quite clearly cost one of the Korean athletes the gold medal in the men's gymnastics all-around, I wondered whether many in Korea would cry foul. And cry foul they did (with good reason). Here's an example of the latest way in which the issue is being understood and portrayed in Korea:

"What's the big deal?" Posted by Hello

"I don't understand. It is only one gold medal; why raise such a big fuss?" asks the ugly foreigner (note the ever so accurate depiction of Paul Hamm in the background).

But of course this isn't just about one gold medal because the foreigner also notes that Korea is long used to having things stolen from it: Koguryo, P'arhae, Tokdo etc. I suppose one could quibble with equating an award in a sporting competition with vast swathes of disputed territory but in at least some South Korean minds, it is all of a piece: Koreans as long-suffering victims at the hands of stronger powers. The extent and influence of this type of thinking probably should not be underestimated.

UPDATE: It isn't just some Koreans who think the games were rigged in America's favor.
Russia's Svetlana Khorkina, who was second to American Carly Patterson in the women's all-round gymnastics competition, has accused the judges of robbing her of the gold medal and said "everything was decided in advance."

"I'm just furious," Khorkina, who had been favorite for the coveted title, was quoted as saying in the daily Izvestia. "I knew well in advance, even before I stepped on the stage for my first event, that I was going to lose.

"Everything was decided in advance. I had no illusions about this when the judges gave me 9.462 for the vault after conferring with one another at length.

"I practically did everything right, still they just set me up and fleeced me," she said in the interview published on Saturday.

Asked why she felt she was marked down by the judges, Khorkina said: "You better ask them. I think it's because I'm from Russia, not from America!"
Do the denizens of Seoul want to be in this company?

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