Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Queen Yu-na

"The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection."
- George Orwell

In that case, Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na isn't human. Or maybe Orwell was wrong, but apparently he was quite a clever fellow, so I'm going to bet that Kim Yu-Na isn't human. On second thought, maybe Yu-na doesn't actually need to seek perfection because she's already attained it. Or perhaps perfection is irrelevant when you're making $5 million in endorsements per year, pre-Olympics.

Facetiousness aside, reigning world champion Kim Yu-na's performance tonight was astounding and set a new world record for the ladies' short program. 78.50!

Some of the hype might be excessive, but there's no denying that the pressure exists and that it is enormous. A New York Times article published on Monday captures part of the historical significance behind Korea's expectations for "Queen Yu-na," as she is affectionately referred to in the Korean media.
  • « No South Korean figure skater has won an Olympic medal, much less gold, as is expected from the willowy Kim, 19.
  • Kim’s main rivals, Mao Asada and Miki Ando, are from Japan, which occupied the Korean peninsula for 35 years through the end of World War II.
  • The first Korean to win an Olympic gold medal, Sohn Kee-chung, took the marathon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but he had to compete for colonialist Japan and take a Japanese name. He remained a fierce Korean nationalist, though, and his story is still taught to South Korean schoolchildren. »
"Kim Carries Nation's Expectations on Her Skates"
(Jeré Longman)

And who knew she can sing, too?