Democratic People’s Republic of Korea figure skating pair win the hearts of their hosts
Figure skating duo Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) saw their PyeongChang 2018 adventure come to end on Thursday 15 February, but they exited the rink having won the home crowd’s admiration and support if not a medal.
The duo was never expected to finish on the podium at PyeongChang 2018, but they successfully managed to bring the crowd to life, a symbol of the sporting unity being forged between their country and their neighbours, the Republic of Korea.
Performing in front of a jubilant crowd, Tae Ok and Ju Sik embraced their coaches after their free skate, in which they recorded a personal best score of 124.23 points. The 19-year old Tae Ok was clearly moved to tears.
“I was very nervous but once I entered the rink, I saw our cheering squad and the home crowd people putting their hearts together and cheering,” said 25-year-old Ju Sik. “They really cheered for us and it encouraged us a lot.”
A DPRK cheerleading squad chanted the skaters’ names and waved flags as they warmed up on the ice while the crowd, consisting mostly of home supporters, applauded and cheered every time they executed an element of their programme. The pair set three personal-best scores in PyeongChang.
“My daughter is so young that she does not even know that the two nations are divided, but I hope she feels that they should be reunited through sport,” commented Lee Sae-rom, a spectator at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
A huge leap forward
The pair’s Canadian coach Bruno Marcotte was delighted with their performance, and said that if they could improve their strength they could make a greater impression on the international stage in future.
Their objective in the free programme was to earn more than 125 points. They just fell a few tenths of a point short of that target, but they look to be well on track to achieve their longer-term goal.
“Our aim has always been to break a record again and again, and advance step by step and not to turn back no matter what happens,” said Ju Sik.