Monday, 18 August 2008

Olympic fever

Korea loves Olympics. Maybe it's a consequence of the 1988 games, which if you don't know were held here in 1988, but they are hard to avoid. For me this is a good thing: I love Olympics. I love watching sports I've never heard of, I love flags. Everything... I ignore the politics. People watch the games on the subway on their TV phones, shops have portable TVs behind the counter or outside on a pile of crates, which allows a crowd to form during a really tense point in the ping pong or something. You can watch weightlifting while you eat your galbi or go for a drink and watch some badminton. In fact badminton won out over the Premier League in the local sports bar. Given how popular English football is here I was quite surprised.

Interesting thing is though, every single one of my kids, boys and girls, age 5-11, are transfixed by the games. They can name pretty much all the Korean medal winners, from swimming to archery to women's weightlifting. All of them can. I have to repeatedly stop them from talking about Park Tae Hwan and Chang Mi Ran and get back on topic. I can remember the Barcelona Olympics when I was seven, and maybe watching Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell, but doubt I was aware of what was going on elsewhere. I'm impressed anyway - I think it's good that these guys are aware of what's going on in the world. I made a bet with a kid last Thursday that GB would end up above Korea in the medals table. I was starting to get a bit scared before the weekend, but it's looking better now. Mmmmm.

Feeling olympicsy, I wandered down to the Seoul Olympic Park on Saturday. It being Saturday, it rained. Here are some pictures.

I did say my kids are aware of world issues. Well, not in all aspects. Having read a picturebook about how everyone in the world is fundamentally the same and that, I discussed with my advanced kindergarten class different parts of the world. I asked what people were like outside of Korea, and my kids talked about Britain, America, China and um, Guam. When I brought Africa up, little Jenny piped up: "People from Africa are very very very different and they are dark and I don't ever want to meet them because I don't like them." Had to nip that little bit of racism in the bud...

Here are two of Korea's biggest Olympic heroes: Park Tae Hwan (weiring the world's greatest shorts) and Jang Mi-ran (big weightlifting lady).
One way to humiliate a badly behaved boy is to accuse him of being in love with Jang Mi-ran. One way to embarrass a badly behaved girl is to accuse her of having a crush on Park Tae Hwan. :D

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