Silver medalist goes out in golden style

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Silver medalist goes out in golden style


To me, the most memorable retirement was that of Seo Taiji & Boys in 1996. The group had enjoyed stardom for five years when it announced its sudden retirement because of “the pressure and pain of creating new music.” The members said that they wanted to leave the industry at the height of their careers with no regrets.

The three members separated and went on to have separate careers in music. Their shocking exit certainly suited their nickname - “X-generation icons.” The decade of ideology was over, and in the 1990s, they opened the era of culture and individuality. Then, they chose freedom over wealth, fame, fandom and social expectations. Aside from the female celebrities who marry into wealthy families, it was, and still is, very rare for stars to voluntarily abandon their stardom. Their exit was just as “problematic” as their debut.

The last performance of Kim Yu-na at the Sochi Winter Olympics was even more impressive. While she lost the gold medal, ironically, we got to see a more memorable scene.

At the kiss-and-cry zone, Kim smiled when her score was announced. Instead of the frustration and anger that all of us shared, she responded with a smile. She was just as composed at the ceremony. She was so mature when accepting the outcome after doing her best. How could such a young soul be so composed?

Kim’s smile is the essence of the countless messages that the figure skating queen has sent us for the last seven years. She has reminded us of many values. She has proved that the purest form of beauty and art can evoke tears. We have learned that she has reached the highest level of art and technique by performing so naturally and at ease, and it was the outcome of intense training and strict self-control. Standing in front of thousands of audience members in the vast ice rink, she overcame the extreme pressure by presenting the moves that have been engraved in her body through countless repetitions and practices.

She made her exit with a smile, not regret. In her game of life regardless of the scores, she fought against herself and overcame her limits. That’s why she could say, “I did all I can.”

At age 24, she has become a great teacher to us all and gave us an opportunity to look back on our attitude in life. That’s why we feel so moved. “Thank you, Yu-na” was the most searched word on the Internet all day long.

Someone said, “There’s no need to visit the museum to see an artwork. Kim is the art.” It was the most beautiful retirement in the world.

The silver medalist is more beautiful than ever.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 22, Page 31

*The author is a culture and sports editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.


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