Thursday, February 18, 2010

Korean Media Distorts Apolo Ohno's Statements

Ever since Apolo Ohno won the silver medal in men's 1,500 short-track on February 13 at the 2010 Vacouver Winter Olympics, the Korean media has been conducting a vicious, unfair smear campaign against Ohno. The Korean media is not only describing Ohno in hateful, unfair language, but they are misquoting and distorting his statements to the English media.

The following is a February 16, 2010 SBS News report on Ohno. It is typical of what is being said in much of the Korean media. SBS NEWS is one of the three big news organizations in Korea.

Anchor: Apolo Ohno, who was the “undeserving” (implied – 어부지리) winner of a silver medal in Men’s 1,500-meter short-track, has made another ridiculous claim that has aggitated our athletes.

Even though he had clearly committed an illegal action, he has made the ridiculous claim that he lost the gold medal because of the interferrence of our athletes.

Reporter Jeong Gyu-jin covers it in Vancouver.


This is a scene from the men’s 1,500 meter race.

A scene of Ohno grabbing and tugging on the left arm of Seong Si-Baek, as Ohno wedged his way in at the inside corner, has been clearly captured on camera by the SBS crew. The situation lasted close to three seconds.

During the semi-finals, he also used his arm to push Lee Jeong-su, which caused Lee Jeong-su to show an expression of surprise.

Even though these are the facts, in an interview with American media, he said if Korean athletes had not impeded my way, the results could have been a lot different. He also claimed that he had never once grabbed another competitor.

After having said immediately after the race that he had hoped Korean athletes would be disqualified, he is once again aggravating our team.

However, it has become known that he has acknowledged the thoughtlessness of the irratating hand gesture he made after winning the race as a result of our athletes crashing into each other.

[American Short-track Team Coach Jeon Jae-su: It was extremely unsportsmanlike behavior, so I angrily scolded him immediately after the race. And, actually, Ohno has been greatly reflecting on that part, and said he does not know why he did it.]

After causing waves with his statements, Ohno has refused interviews while showing a consistent, hardened expression throughout practice.

Analysts think Ohno’s statement shows that he intends to use scuffles during the remaining races to get favorable judgements.

Notice that SBS News did not use any quotation marks in their report, but other news outlets reporting on the SBS report did. For example, Newsway quoted Ohno as saying the following:

I have never interfered with another athlete by grabbing his arm or leg and holding on for so long.

“나는 한번도 어떤 선수의 팔이나 다리를 이처럼 오랫동안 붙잡아 방해한 적이 없다”

First, both news reports are misquoting Ohno. Ohno did not say he had never "held another athlete's arm or leg"; he said his arm or leg had never been held by another athlete for so long. HERE is what Ohno said:

I definitely don’t think it’s typical, not in my sport. I’ve never had anyone hold onto my leg or arm that long. If it weren’t for that, the outcome would have been much different.

I started to pass one of the Korean skaters on the inside, and he put his left hand over and blocked me. That’s when I lost a lot of my speed.

The (earlier) bump allowed the others to catch up. That’s short track. When I saw those two guys lining up to pass on the final lap, I knew something was going to happen. It was a mistake on their part, and worked in my favor.

Everyone wants to win, and gets caught up in the emotions. All three of those Korean skaters are tough and strong. It was one of the hardest races I’ve skated in.

I do not know what Ohno meant by his hand gesture, but I know it to mean “stop,” as in “stop doing something.”

I do not know why Ohno’s Korean coach said what he did to the Korean media, but since the Korean coach did not make a similar declaration to the English media, I am suspicious. Ohno’s Korean coach seemed to be feeding Korea’s hatred for Ohno, not appeasing it. I wonder if Ohno even knows what his coach told the Korean media?

SBS News was trying to make Koreans believe that Ohno had cheated by grabbing the Korean skater's arm, but it you watch the SBS VIDEO, you will see that it was the Korean who grabbed and held on to Ohno's knee until Ohno finally knocked his arm away. That allowed the Korean skater's teammate to skate around on the outside. Watch the video and judge for yourselves.


  1. I am Korean but I just hope you do not judge Koreans by this one media incident.

    Imagine what would happen on Korean and Japanese media when women figure skating starts.

    Yuna Kim VS Mao Asada

  2. It is not just this "one media incident," Annonymous. The Korean media regularly misquotes and distorts comments of Apolo Ohno. As a Korean, who can probably read both English and Korean, you probably know that.

    The most recent example of the Korean media misquoting Ohno can be seen in an article entitled, "Conceited Ohno, Oh~No." The article quoted Ohno as saying the following and suggested that it was an example of Ohno's being "conceited":
    He said, "I slipped with two and a half laps left, but if I hadn't I could have won the gold medal. While slipping, I lost a lot of speed."

    "두바퀴 반 남기고 미끄러지지만 않았으면 금메달을 딸 수도 있었다"며 "미끄러지면서 속도가 많이 떨어졌다"고 말했다.

    Now, here is what Ohno actually said:

    “When I moved up to second place with two and a half laps to go, in my head I thought the race is mine,” Ohno said. “And I felt great. Then I had that big slip, and I lost all my speed again. And I saw everybody flying by me, and I thought, ‘Oh, boy.’ There’s not a lot of time left, I have to kind of crank it up.

    Notice the difference between the Korean translation and what Ohno actually said?

    I do not think Ohno was being conceited, at all. I think he was simply reporting what happened and what went through his head at the time.

    I think the above is a fairly mild example of how the Korean media distorts Ohno's comments and tries to read more into them than what is actually there in an attempt to stir up Korean readers.

  3. By the way, HERE is the link to the Ohno quote.

  4. I think you don't know the real reason that most of the Korean don't like "Ohno". it goes back to 2002, the 1500m race of Dongsung Kim and Ohno.
    ever since then, Ohno became a symbol of mean player.

  5. My middle school students were really angry about Ohno after this incident. I still haven't seen the video, but I distinctly remember how my students' anger was directed more at Ohno than at anyone else.


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