North and South Korea additionally reached an settlement final Wednesday for his or her athletes to march collectively below one flag on the opening ceremony on Feb. 9.
With the official announcement on Saturday that 12 North Korean gamers can be added to the Olympic girls’s crew roster, with three of them mandated to decorate for every sport, among the South Korean athletes concern shedding enjoying time or being benched for some video games.
“It’s exhausting as a result of the gamers have earned their spots, and so they suppose they need to go to the Olympics,” the ladies’s coach, Sarah Murray, told the South Korean news media last week. “The gamers stated in June to not make them a political assertion and that they only wish to play the sport,” Ms. Murray added. “I agreed with them.”
Inside South Korea, criticism of the federal government’s determination to subject an inter-Korean crew has undermined the approval rankings of President Moon Jae-in, who has vocally supported the North’s inclusion in hockey.
In line with the newest Gallup ballot, his score has dropped to 67 p.c, its lowest mark in 16 weeks. Polls taken in South Korea throughout the final week have additionally proven that many respondents disagree with the choice so as to add North Koreans to the roster.
On social media and in petitions filed with the presidential Blue Home, South Koreans have proven sympathy for the South Korean hockey gamers. “I don’t suppose the athletes’ lives must be sacrificed for an occasion,” wrote one Fb person, Jaeeok Kim. One petition opposing the inter-Korean crew, submitted on the Blue Home web site, drew greater than 50,000 signatures.
“Can summary values like ‘peace’ and ‘unification’ get forward of particular person freedom?” one commenter on the petition wrote. “South Korea is a free liberal nation, not a socialist nation. I hope the federal government won’t power particular person sacrifice.”
Lee Min-ji, a participant who misplaced a spot on the Olympic roster, posted — after which later took down — a protracted assertion on Instagram, lamenting the choice so as to add North Koreans to the crew as “extraordinarily unlucky.”
“How can one suppose that the gamers would take this case in an excellent temper,” Ms. Lee wrote, “even when anybody can turn out to be such a sacrificed participant?”
Many of the gamers are nonetheless youngsters, and a number of other have battled accidents and endured lengthy commutes and punishing coaching together with the tormenting embarrassment of blowout losses.
With the South Korean crew ranked 22nd on the planet, many across the crew consider the choice to unite with North Korean gamers is rooted in disrespect. The lads’s crew was by no means thought of for integration.
Final week, South Korea’s prime minister, Lee Nak-yeon, drew sharp ire when he stated that the ladies’s crew was not a medal contender anyway, implying that its athletic unity could possibly be sacrificed for political unity. He later apologized for the feedback.
Some analysts stated the choice was merely sexist. “There’s a diploma of gendered notion that ladies’s sports activities aren’t as necessary and that they can be utilized on this gentle cultural strategy,” stated Benjamin Younger, a Ph.D. candidate in trendy Korean historical past at George Washington College. “The South Korean authorities is just not having two inter-Korean hockey groups, female and male. They’re sort of making specific their gender bias recognized. I can actually perceive why the crew gamers, coaches and public are upset.”
Analysts stated younger South Koreans specifically objected to the last-minute insertion of North Korean gamers for political causes as essentially unfair.
“Through the marketing campaign for the 19th presidential election, President Moon Jae-in harassed, ‘Alternative will probably be truthful; the method will probably be mounted and the end result simply,’ ” a commenter wrote on a petition submitted to the Blue Home. “However the authorities that took away our athletes’ alternative; that ignored the preparation course of, is that this actually simply?”
Lee Byuntae, a professor of data methods and economics at Kaist Faculty of Enterprise in Seoul, stated Mr. Moon was notably susceptible to such criticism since he was elected on the again of the impeachment of President Park Guen-hye final spring. She was ousted after widespread protests in opposition to politically motivated favoritism.
Within the case of the presidential protests, critics initially balked at corruption once they discovered that the daughter of a longtime confidante of Ms. Park had illegally enrolled in a prestigious college utilizing her mom’s connections to power the college to simply accept her regardless of poor qualifications.
Within the case of the ice hockey crew, Professor Lee stated, the federal government is favoring North Korean gamers in an effort to make a political assertion. “The federal government excessive officers, with none session with the hockey gamers, determined they may kind this united crew,” he stated.
South Korea’s sports activities minister, Do Jong-hwan, initially raised the concept of a joint crew final June, which bothered gamers then.
“They didn’t need it to occur,” stated Marissa Brandt, a participant who was born in South Korea and adopted by a household in Minnesota, in an interview final October. Ms. Brandt, who stated she by no means “felt Korean” rising up, is an assistant captain who proudly wears her Korean title on her jersey.
“Each woman on this crew has put in a lot effort and time, and it will be robust to see any of us get reduce or have to surrender a spot to another person,” Ms. Brandt stated. “We’re such a tight-knit crew, and we wish to stick collectively.”
Some analysts stated the chance to create a way of unity and advance a peace course of was extra necessary than the crew’s disappointment.
“The general public hoopla on how we’re sacrificing the younger Korean girls’s Olympic goals, I believe, is one other political assertion with particular goals to undermine the truth that there may be going to be some peace course of occurring with the Pyeongchang Olympics,” stated Chung Yong-chul, a professor of sports activities psychology within the Graduate Faculty of Training at Sogang College in Seoul. “All of the individuals speaking about how unfair it’s for them to surrender their spot, they didn’t even know what ice hockey was earlier than this situation got here up.”
For now, the South Korean teammates are placing of their final practices earlier than the Video games start subsequent month. The slogan on their black warm-up shirts reads: “Make Korea Proud.”