Olympics weren’t fun for everyoneSo how about those Olympic Games? Pretty good this year, you have to admit. The good guys shot, tripped and kicked their way to ninth in the medal standings, earning high praise from President Roh. And the Korean public didn’t get as mad this time when the Americans continued their gold-stealing traditions.
And what about that crazy Irishman attacking that poor Brazilian marathoner? Actually, that incident represented a nice switch, from an Itaewonian standpoint. Sure, the runner was pretty shaken up, but around here it’s usually the Irish marathoners ― singers, not runners ― who get attacked.
It’s interesting to note that the Irishman tried to take down the marathoner in order to prompt the second coming of Christ, because Korea once had its own formidable savior-welcoming squad. This team, known as Mission for the Coming Days and thoughtlessly labeled a “cult” by some, rose to prominence in 1992, led by an ace named Lee Jan-rim. Mr. Lee didn’t make it to the Barcelona Games that year, so he was unable to compete in the tackling-the-lead-marathoner-for-Jesus event; but maybe that’s a good thing, because the gold- medal runner that year, unimpeded by Americans, was a Korean, Hwang Young-cho.
Anyway, the Athens games were full of thrills and spills and were enjoyable for just about everyone. Well, not quite.
“The Olympics were terrible for me,” moaned Hae-mi, an itinerant juicy girl who now operates out of an upslope Hooker Hill bar she doesn’t want named here. “My business fell off by about 70 percent.”
Over the past two weeks, she explained, she practically had to do back-flips to get her regular customers to come up to the Hill. “Every time I called them, they’d make up excuses like ‘I can’t come now, I’m watching the Olympics,’” she complained. “And if any did come, they wouldn’t stay long ― they’d say something like ‘I just came in to say hi, but now I have to go home to watch the Olympics.’”
Over the course of the Olympian fortnight, Hae-mi’s boss even started to scold her. “She told me that my customers shouldn’t prefer watching the Olympics to being with me. She told me that I had to work harder.”
She’s unlikely to be recognized by the president for it, but Hae-mi will no doubt work harder in the weeks, months and years ahead, and will be readier in 2008, when the Games roll around again. “Next time I’ll make sure my bar has a big-screen TV,” she said.
Incidentally, when Mr. Roh met with the Korean athletes upon their return from Greece, he jocularly pointed out that, in finishing ninth, they had outperformed the local economy. which is something like the 11th largest in the world.
But if you asked Hae-mi, she’d say the Olympians weren’t just outperforming the economy ― they were shooting it down.
by Mike Ferrin