Yu-na feted in NYC for influencing the world

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Yu-na feted in NYC for influencing the world

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Kim Yu-na. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

In what could be her last major publicity splash, Korea’s figure skating queen Kim Yu-na participated Tuesday in a star-studded event in New York celebrating Time magazine’s annual naming of the 100 “World’s Most Influential People.” The 19-year-old Kim was featured in the magazine’s Hero section after her record-shattering performance at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

On an online poll of Time’s readers, Kim ranked third most influential person in the world after Iranian opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi (who got 1.49 million online votes) and Chinese author and race-car driver Han Han (873,000). Kim got 810,000 votes from her dedicated and wired fans. At the event, Kim was asked whether she was ready to retire. “I will take my time and think this through so that I can embark on the right path,” Kim told reporters.

Kim has frequently said that as an athlete she had achieved everything she aspired to do and would have no regrets leaving her profession.

Five-time world champion figure skater Michelle Kwan, the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, wrote Kim’s appraisal in Time’s special issue. “I have never seen such a skater with such a combination of artistry and athleticism,” Kwan wrote. “Kim’s inspiring performance in Vancouver changed the face of figure skating forever. Those six-and-a-half minutes on ice left not only a mark in the record book but also an indelible impression on millions of young girls around the world.”

In her native South Korea, the sports superstar commands goddess-like status, selling everything from cars to milk products in endorsement contracts from such companies as Hyundai Motor and Samsung Electronics.


By Brian Lee [enational@joongang.co.kr]
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