Korean media notes... Olympic favorite Kim Yu-na delighted fans around the world by winning the women's figure skating gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. . Yu-na's 228.56 points topped the previous world record she set last October in Paris. Twenty-year-old Kim is the first Korean figure skater ever to win an Olympic medal.
She was amazing ! and no doubt this will dominate Korean media for the next few days. Coupled with the strong showing of their Olympic team, Koreans have a lot to be proud of....
On another level, Korea's Olympic success provides some insights into the people and its modern society. First, Korean play to win and not only at sports. For example, Koreans are strong global competitors in business. Samsung, Hyundai Kia Motors, LG, Doosan, Hanjin, and SK are major Korea brands now carving out international market shares based on aggressive sales, quality product and services, and design savvy. Like in sports, hard work and diligence are significant factors.
Looking deeper we find that Olympic success is also linked a collective society where success or failure is shared by all. A win by Kim is not only her win, but also a win for the entire nation. But perhaps more revealing is what drives many Koreans to support such high Olympic aspirations.
I see status as this powerful force. Specifically, the global status Korea gains by high achievement. This is very important for a culture where status consciousness is long rooted in a Confucian past. As a modern society, ranking among the top ten medal winners has been a recent goal in both Summer and Winter Olympics—a goal that through hard work, determination, and sacrifice Korean Olympians have achieved.