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Koreans stay awake late at night to watch Sochi competitions

Koreans stay awake late at night to watch Sochi competitions

Posted February. 13, 2014 06:12,   


“Wow, you set a new Olympic record, Good job you did! Sang-hwa”

The moment Lee Sang-hwa acquired the gold medal at women’s 500-meter speed skating competition early Wednesday morning, her mother, Kim In-soon, 53, burst into tears with his fingers crossed. Her father shouted “Kudos to the Republic of Korea.”

Despite being deep into the night at close to 1 a.m., people across the country applauded and cheered. Most competitions at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics took place during daytime in Korea, and thus people gathered at train stations or workplaces to watch them. But major competitions at the Sochi Winter Olympics are broadcast late at night here, and most people are watching games at homes or bars.

When the Korean women’s curling team defeated Japan in its first qualifying match on Tuesday, Sohn Hyeon-soo, 26, a college student, urgently arranged a meeting with his friends. Meeting his friends at a restaurant, Sohn said, “The fever was so enthusiastic that all people at the restaurant chanted ‘Lee Sang-hwa.’” Lee Hwang-jae, 27, a college student who also gathered with his friends to watch TV at a beer pub in Seoul’s Nowon district, said, “The fun and excitement was twice as big because I watched Olympic games with my friends.”

Visiting a fitness center in Goyang City, Gyeonggi Province, Soh Hyeong-joon, 27, said, “Since I could not take my eyes off Lee Sang-hwa’s race, I continuously ran on the running machine.” He usually uses other fitness equipment on ordinary days, but he only ran on the running machine with built-in TV set on the day.

People who watched competitions at home were also thrilled. Song Tae-heon, 26, who watched competitions at home, said, “As I exchanged text messages with my friends as group, we shared overflowing joy.” Many fans watched competitions through real-time webcast on portal sites. Kim Cheol-shik, 29, said, “Events webcast were more exciting due to comments that are posted in real time during the event.” Naver, the portal that offered the webcast service in real time, said on Tuesday, “After Lee Sang-hwa’s second round race started, the number of people who accessed our service topped half a million,” adding, “The figure is very high considering that the average number of people who accessed our webcast service during the Korean Series baseball amounted to 200,000.” According to Nielson Korea tallies, the average viewership of Lee Sang-hwa’s 500-meter final competition amounted to 31.6 percent on MBC TV, and 24.3 percent on KBS2 TV, resulting in 55.9 percent in total.

Many citizens said they also “cheered” for Mo Tae-bum and Lee Kyu-hyuk who raced in men’s 1,000 meter speed skating competition on Wednesday. Chae Hyeon-seok, 73, who went to two-day hiking on Mount Taebaek, said, “I rooted for the two athletes on Mount Taebaek.” Lim Seong-hyeon, 36, who said he has stronger affection for Lee Kyu-hyuk because he is the same age as Lee who had his finale race as career athlete, said, “My friends and I watched Lee concluding his athletic career beautifully,” adding, “When it comes to watching athletes who are doing their best to excel, I can happily stay late at night to cheer for Korean players.”