News / Asia

South Korea Energized by Figure Skater's Olympic Debut

South Korea's Olympic figure skater, Kim Yuna
South Korea's Olympic figure skater, Kim Yuna

Multimedia

Kurt Achin

South Korea is ablaze with excitement for the Olympic debut on Wednesday, Feb. 24 of Kim Yu-Na - a widespread favorite to bring back the country's first gold medal in figure skating. The corporate world has already caught Yuna fever.

Even before her first Olympic games, Kim Yu-Na had become marketing gold. Nike is just one brand hitching its wagon to the 19-year-old superstar.

Her nickname here in South Korea is "Queen Yu-Na" - and the government has printed a stamp in her honor. Her image is splashed everywhere.

Technology giant Samsung named a mobile phone after her. You can enjoy specially created Kim Yu-Na fruit smoothies,

And stay cool while you drink them with air conditioners that she endorses. All told, Kim Yu-Na is estimated to have made between $7 and $9 million in promotional fees last year.

Won Young-shin is a professor of sports and leisure at Seoul's Yonsei University. She says Kim's rare combination of technical and artistic skill has fueled her success. But, she adds, there is even more to it. "She knows how to behave herself as a star. In a capitalistic society, she knows how to leverage her own marketing power, and not only manage her image, but adjust it flexibly to different circumstances. In Korea, just about everyone sees her as an idol," she said.

Some of Kim Yuna's youngest idolizers have come to be known here as "Yuna Kids." A number of South Korean parents are pouring money into figure skating lessons, hoping to cultivate the next Kim Yu-Na.

Skating coach Choi In-hwa says there are parallels between the new skating trend and the country's pressure-cooker educational system. "Some of the kids just love reading or music, but their parents force them to the ice rink, and shout at them for not concentrating enough. Typical Korean education fever has become sports fever. Some kids even start crying after being scolded by their moms," he said.

Orthodontists have also apparently benefited from the Kim Yu-Na craze. They say parents are spending more on braces - the same kind that gave Yu-Na her prize-winning smile.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid