Junior roots for Korean team

Madeleine LeTendre, Sports Editor

The Olympics are known for inspiring patriotism and unification within and between nations and for making citizens proud to be where they are from. For Madison student Michael Kim (’19), the Olympics mean getting in touch with and supporting the nation in which his heritage originates from: South Korea.

“My parents are from South Korea, and I grew up there from third to 7th grade,” Kim says. “Although I would identify myself as American rather than South Korean, I am proud to support the nation that my heritage stems from.”

Not only did South Korea host the 2018 Winter Olympics in the city of PyeongChang, but the nation also was quite successful at the games, making the country one that was exciting to cheer for.

“Speed skating is my favorite to watch because of the exhilarating atmosphere,” Kim said. “I am a fan of Korean speed skater Lee Sang Hwa who won a silver medal for the women’s 500-meter short-track.”

Korean-American Chloe Kim represented the United States and won gold for women’s snowboard halfpipe, and Michael Kim recognizes her accomplishment.

“Even though Korean-Americans like Chloe Kim don’t directly represent Korea, they are respected in Korean society,” Kim said.

Though rooting for Korea, Kim also supports fellow Korean-Americans competing in the Olympics.

“When Korean-Americans do perform well [at the Olympics], the spotlight shines on their lives, which includes their Korean culture,” Kim said. “ I believe Olympians stand to represent their culture, so when Korean-Americans win and our heritage is [highlighted], I feel proud as a fellow Korean-American.”

For the first time in 12 years, North and South Korea also competed alongside each other at the Olympic Games. Twenty-two North Korean athletes joined their South Korean counterparts under the name of “Korea:” six skiers, four ice skaters and 12 women’s hockey players.

“I was glad that there was a unified team because I believe it may have been a little step towards reunifying the nations,” Kim said.

Furthermore, during these historic games, Kim’s “identity as a South Korean comes out” as he cheers on South Korea with his family and his friends who reside there.