Sunday, August 10, 2008
Six for Six... and Counting
You've got to believe there's a deep-rooted correlation between a nation and the sports that it embraces, but what exactly it all means is sometimes hard to say. Few would argue that football epitomizes the American character, with its emphasis on power, analysis and precision. The same can be said, more or less, for baseball and basketball. When it comes to Korea, increasingly one comes to think of its excellence in golf. The way the sport requires hours and hours and hours of patient practice. Rote, mechanical practice. (Not unlike the way many Korean students attack their studies, memorizing fact after fact after fact.) But before there was golf, there was archery. Since 1984, Korean women have won every available gold medal in Olympic competition, sweeping individual and team play. Yesterday saw a continuation of the dynasty when they comfortably defeated the Chinese, unlike four years ago in Athens when they needed to shoot a perfect 10 on their final arrow to clinch gold. (Unsurprisingly it was the same archer from four years ago who shot the final arrow this time around, Park Sung Hyun.) I can't imagine the kind of practice and dedication, not to mention strength, it takes to keep shooting arrows at a target 70 meters away every day for hours at at time. What does this say about the Korean character? Is there any other sport that so accurately represents what Koreans are about?