“If sketching is dreaming, participating in the Olympics is colouring” … meet Team Korea

  • EunJung Kim at the CPT World Women's Curling Championship 2017 in China Photo: © WCF / Céline Stucki

In our second Olympic Winter Games 2018 athletes feature we meet the team curlers from the host nation, Korea.

Both teams have had a taste for what it is to win medals in international curling before, but there is no doubt, after winning their respective qualifying events, there would be nothing better than stepping onto the podium at home, in the world’s biggest sporting event.

The women’s team are skipped by EunJung Kim, and were prevalent on the international stage in the 2016-2017 season – winning gold at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championships 2016 in Uiseong, Republic of Korea and competing in their first World Women’s Curling Championship, in Beijing, China, in March. They had a sixth-place finish in Beijing.

EunJung’s team has also won bronze and silver at the Pacifics in 2014 and 2012 respectively. In 2017, this team, made-up of third KyeongAe Kim, second SeonYeong Kim, lead YeongMi Kim and alternate ChoHee Kim also won silver at the Asian Winter Games 2017 in Sapporo, Japan.

The men’s team, lead by Changmin Kim, who will represent Korea at the Games are not so well known on the international stage in recent years, but have no shortage of international experience having competed in World Junior, Pacific Asia and Winter Universiade Curling Championships in the past. Perhaps, their career highlight was winning gold at the 2011 Unversiade Winter Games and beating Switzerland in the final.

The men’s team is made up of skip Kim, third Sehyeon Seong, second Eunsu Oh, lead Kibok Lee and alternate Minchan Kim. Lee is new to the team since the Universiade success, but was part of the Korean men’s team that won gold at the VoIP World Junior Curling Championships 2017 in the 2018 Olympic curling venue – the Gangneung Curling Centre.  

So, without further ado, let’s meet the teams…

Team Korea (Women)

Q How does it feel to go to the Olympics as the host nation?

YeongMi: It’s fascinating to be on the Olympic stage. I have been drawing in my head since I was a junior. If sketching is dreaming, participating in the Olympics is one of the stages of colouring. I think we will progress – like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

KyeongAe: I prepared for the PyeongChang Olympic Games for ten years. I will do my best so that the years would not be in vain.

Q Do you have nicknames within the team?

EunJung: Because all the team is called KIM. It could not be KIM1, KIM2, KIM3. So, we wanted to set up a nickname that foreigners could easily call, and at the time some we were nicknamed by the breakfast menu we ate.

Coach [MinJung], Skip [EunJung] and fifth [ChoHee] are MJ, Anny and ChoCho, which are similar to Korean names. Third [KyeongAe] is Steak, second [SeonYeong] is Sunny (we got this from ‘side up’), and lead [YeongMi] is Pancake (pictured below, © WCF / Richard Gray).
Q What career would you have if you weren’t a curler?

EunJung: I have been interested in making food since I was a kid, and as a high school student I thought I would be a chef.

KyeongAe: I think I would have been a professional soldier.

YeongMi: I would have been working as a kindergarten teacher or kindergarten physical education teacher.

Q Who is the joker of the team?

MinJung: When the training is long, SeonYeong makes the team smile.

Eunjung: SeonYeong makes up the atmosphere with her funny behavior, but our team seems to be fine with that.

Q Who is the most serious member of the team?

EunJung: That’s me! My team members tease me that I "take it seriously because I'm old". It seems that I am serious or seriously accepting it.

KyeongAe: EunJung You can see it by watching the game.

Q What team do you have the most fun with on and off the sheet?

Eunjung: Team Feltscher, Switzerland – usually the curling team is focused and serious, but this team seems to make people laugh and laugh all the time. I want to learn the language so that I know what they’re laughing about. They always curl happily when losing or winning.

ChangMin Kim
Korea's Team ChangMin, © Korea Curling Federation
Q How does it feel to go into an Olympics as the host nation?

A I still can’t believe I will be in the Olympics. It’s an honour to play in my country for the 2018 Winter Games.

Q Do you have nicknames within the team and what's the story behind them?

A Sehyeon [Seong] gets called Robin Hood because he reads the ice very well.

Q What is your guilty pleasure?

A Sehyeon and Minchan [Kim] find it hard to be away from their mobile. Eunsu [Oh] and Kibok [Lee] enjoy a late-night meal.

Q What music do you listen to prior to events?

A K-Pop and dance music.

Q Where's the best place you have visited as a curler?

A Karuizawa in Japan, Turkey and Vancouver, Canada.

Q What career would you have if you weren't a curler?

A I would’ve been an engineer I think, Eunsu would’ve been a librarian and Kibok and Minchan would have probably been P.E. teachers.
Q Who is the most serious member of the team?

A It depends on the day. Eunsu or Kibok (pictured above, © WCF / Richard Gray) usually.

Q What do you do in your spare time to relax?

A Eunsu likes being a couch potato. I like spending time in coffee shops, using my PC and walking. Kibok reads a lot.

Q What teams are you inspired by?

A Team Ulsrud, Team Korab, Team Koe, Team Edin.

In the run-up to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea we celebrate the success of the curling qualifiers heading to the Games in (8-25) February.

In the coming weeks and months, we will speak to the athletes that have been selected or qualified to represent their Member Association in the Gangneung Curling Centre.

To follow the build-up to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, follow us on Twitter, Instagram (@worldcurling) and Facebook (/WorldCurlingFederation) and use the hashtags: #Roadto2018 #curling

by Michael Houston, feature writer