A smooth start

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A smooth start

We have shown the world what we are capable of as we host our second Olympics and first Winter Games, delivering dramatic moments on ice and snow. The opening ceremony that was seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world was a mix of Korea’s history, culture, style and technology.

The iconic traditional dances, customs, and K-pop with added style and sophistication awed audiences from every corner of the world. A fleet of 1,000-plus drones illuminating the sky in the form of a dove, snowboarder, and the five Olympic rings was stunning. Kim Yuna dazzled the world by skating atop the stadium and lighting the Olympic flame with grace.

The glitz of both traditional and hip-hop dances against both digital and firework special effects met the high standards of an Olympic extravaganza. South Koreans showed the world how much they have advanced in the realms of culture, economy, innovation, and craftsmanship since they held the Seoul Summer Olympics in 1988.

South Korea’s first gold came just one day after the opening ceremony. Short-track speed skater Lim Hyo-jun clinched the gold after setting a record at the men’s 1,500-meter event. The 21-year-old first-time Olympian weathered all possible odds — including seven surgeries by the time he reached 20 — and back pain during the Olympic trials. Yet he was not emotional when he stepped up to the medal podium. “I wanted to give up many times. But many believed in my skills. I was able to come this far because I had my eyes firm on a goal,” he said.

The women’s short-track performance was even more moving. The Korean team finished first in the 3,000-meter relay despite a fall by Lee Yu-bin that set the Korean skaters nearly a full lap behind the other teams. Even as she skidded on the ice, Lee held out her arm to touch her teammate and was quickly replaced.

The team did not falter, even in a crisis and recovered swiftly with calmness and dexterity. Kim Ye-jin said they were able to respond well because they had practiced and prepared for a number of situations. The Olympics deliver this kind of exciting drama because the athletes continuously fight against themselves and the odds.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 12, Page 30
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