Uni­fied Korean team lose as fans chant ‘we are one’

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

GANGNE­UNG: A uni­fied Korean hockey team lost a grudge match 4-1 to Ja­pan for their third straight Olympic de­feat in front of a par­ti­san crowd that in­cluded the North Korean cheer­lead­ers and a Kim Jong-Un looka­like yes­ter­day.

The home fans chanted “We are one” even as the first joint Korean team to ap­pear at an Olympic Games were on the end of an­other heavy de­feat.

At least they had a goal to cheer — scored by Randi Grif­fin, one of three Amer­i­cans in the squad with Korean parent­age.

Ko­rea lost 8-0 to both Switzer­land and Swe­den and the Ja­pan clash had ex­tra spice for Kore­ans in the North and South who blame Ja­pan for colonis­ing the now-di­vided penin­sula from 1910-1945.

“I came to tonight’s game be­cause I wanted to sup­port our team when they play against Ja­pan,” said Kim Yoon-Hye, a 28-year-old teacher from Seoul.

Park Geum-Taek, 44, from Olympic host city Pyeongchang, added: “Given the his­tory of our coun­tries, I feel like we must win all sport­ing games against Ja­pan.”

The Kore­ans packed into the 6,000-seat Kwan­dong Hockey Cen­tre let out a deaf­en­ing roar and cheered to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” even as the hosts gave up two goals only four min­utes into the game.

The deci­bels peaked when Grif­fin pulled one back half­way through the sec­ond pe­riod — prompt­ing the 200-plus North Korean cheer­lead­ers in the crowd to jump out of their seats.

Away from the ice, a dou­ble of North Korean leader Kim was be­ing hauled off by po­lice af­ter danc­ing provoca­tively in front of the North Korean sup­port.

Back on it, the Ko­rea team — heavy with sym­bol­ism but low on qual­ity — were get­ting soundly beaten again.

Grif­fin said play­ing for a uni­fied Ko­rea — part of a land­mark deal be­tween South and North Ko­rea af­ter months of ten­sions — felt strangely nor­mal.

“It doesn’t feel weird. This is my team and I scored a goal for my team. And I would also say that I’m def­i­nitely not a hero... I got lucky,” she said.

The side’s Amer­i­can coach Sarah Mur­ray

said that for the Korean team, the game was not po­lit­i­cal.

“We just saw our­selves as one team com­pet­ing against our big­gest ri­val. We talked to the play­ers about it be­fore the game, not of the his­tory of Ko­rea and Ja­pan, but who­ever wins this game is the best team in Asia.”

The Kore­ans can­not win an Olympic medal and have one more match to come, on Sun­day, on what prom­ises to be an­other emo­tional oc­ca­sion.


Jorien ter Mors of the Nether­lands won Olympic gold in the women’s 1,000m speed-skat­ing event yes­ter­day to main­tain the Dutch stran­gle­hold on the medals ta­ble.

The 28-year-old, who won gold in the 1,500m and team pur­suit in Sochi in 2014, clocked a best of 1min 13.56sec to fin­ish 0.26sec ahead of Nao Ko­daira, with a sec­ond Ja­panese skater, Miho Tak­agi, tak­ing bronze (+0.42sec).

Ter Mors’ vic­tory means the Nether­lands have now won all five of the golds up for grabs in South Ko­rea so far in speed-skat­ing.


Uni­fied Ko­rea’s Randi Grif­fin, No.37, in ac­tion against Ja­pan dur­ing a women’s hockey match.

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