Netizens flock to the Web to thank Kim Yu-na

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Netizens flock to the Web to thank Kim Yu-na

Kim Yu-na, the nation’s figure skating star, ended her final run in the free skate program yesterday at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, taking home the silver medal.

But regardless of ongoing controversy over the final scores, netizens flocked online to express their support in perhaps the most meaningful way they knew how: through the key word list on Korea’s major Internet portal.

When Kim came in second to Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova, ordinary citizens, as well as some of Korea’s biggest names, condemned the judging panel, accusing it of being biased.

“Shame on you, Russia!” Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Seok-hyun wrote on his Twitter account.

Novelist Lee Oi-soo also expressed similar outrage. “I will remember the Olympic not as Sochi Russia Winter Olympics, but as the Suchi [a Korean word meaning shame] Russia Winter Olympics.”

But the wrath soon dissipated, and Internet users once again turned their attention to Kim, commending her grace and sportsmanship. In a trend that likely originated from an article posted on an online forum, Koreans stormed Naver, the nation’s most frequently used Web portal, searching for the phrase, “Thank you, Yu-na.”

The abundance of Web traffic means the words are posted in real-time on a “hot key words” list, where many hoped, perhaps, that Kim Yu-na would see it and maybe even consider it an impromptu send-off at the end of her skating career. Netizens combined their efforts yesterday immediately following Kim’s performance, and the online community was successful in keeping their message in the top spot for nearly half a day.

Later in the afternoon, another key phrase came in first: “Kim Yu-na signature collecting,” it read, referencing an appeal for a petition to investigate the Olympic judges. However, Kim’s online thank-you note remained on the overall list all day long.

“Though she won the silver medal in her last program, the mark she left on the ice in her 17-year career is golden, or maybe even better,” said fan Ju Jong-seob, 31, who added that he stayed up all night to watch the performance.

Social networking services were also inundated with comments praising Kim’s performance and expressing support for Korea’s figure skating darling. “I was awed to see her placid face on the podium,” one fan wrote on Twitter.

“I felt like she wasn’t competing with the others, only herself, and that is the only thing that matters to her.”

“We should not feel sad that she won the silver medal but that we cannot see her performance again,” another supporter tweeted. “Our generation is blessed to see her performance.”

BY E CHOONG-HYEONG AND KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]
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