GANGNEUNG, Feb. 13 (Korea Bizwire) – Whatever the political motivations behind the joint North and South Korean hockey team, the unified Korea team has already garnered a win in generating interest in ice hockey among the general public.
An informal survey of spectators in the stands for the February 12 matchup between Japan and Switzerland revealed a markedly different attitude towards the sport than before.
One 17-year old who was accompanied by her friend said, “I watched the joint Korea team’s game on TV at home with my dad a few days ago. I didn’t really get a feel for it watching at home, but after coming to the arena I was really surprised and impressed by how great the players are.”
“I had heard that South Korea actually never had a female ice hockey team before, and maybe that’s the reason why they were unable to get a good result against Switzerland. I hope that ice hockey can grow here like it has in countries like Switzerland,” she added.
A middle-aged man taking in the game said, “I check out a game or two here and there, but this is the first time I’ve been to a game live. I wanted to watch the game between the joint Korea team and Sweden, but I was unable to get tickets to that one. I think interest in ice hockey is going to grow after the Olympics.”
Though the majority of the viewers at the Kwandong Hockey Centre were organized groups from schools and local governments, considering hockey’s low profile in South Korea, a noticeable number packing the stands were there on their own accord.
Short track speed skating and figure skating have been the typical favorites amongst South Koreans, due to the excellence of the country’s athletes in the former and the unprecedented success of retired athlete Kim Yuna in the latter.
The joint Korea women’s team suffered back-to-back 8-0 losses to Switzerland and Sweden, leaving them no hope of advancing to the next round. Out of medal contention, they will instead face off against national rival Japan on February 14 in a battle for pride.
Like Korea, Japan has so far been unsuccessful in their search for a win, falling to Switzerland 3-1 for their second loss on February 12.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)