South Korea - The Olympic Revolution of the New Millennium
I -Eva Peron, Korea and the Olympics
Before Korea became one of the most industrialized nations on the entire Asian continent, Argentina -it is about 26 times the size of SK- was one of the world's six richest countries. Around the same time, they were getting off on the right foot in the Olympic Games.
Argentina -now a football-loving nation- was home to sixty percent of Latin America's Olympic winners-aquatics, boxing, polo, rowing, track-field. At the 1948 London Games, they finished 13th in the medal standings. In contrast to its neighbours, Argentina had an Olympic champ to cheer in that year , when Delfo Cabrera won a gold medal. On that occasion, Korea was certainly not lucky,and finished 32nd in the medal table. Korea's first Olympic national team was formed in the late 40s. But Koreans dare to dream the impossible.
At the 1951 Pan American Games in Buenos Aires, the host country finished first in the count medal- where America was ousted from the number one spot for the first time in Continental Games history by Argentina.
But Argentina is now history. In the last Olympics, the Latin American nation only won two golds-soccer & cycling. Ironically, Argentina-where there are snow-mountains- has never won an Olympic medal in the Winter Games. Then, in April 2009, the Bolivian men's soccer squad upset team Argentina, which was trained by soccer player-turned-coach Diego Armando Maradona, 6-1.
Different from Argentina, Japan, Australia and Canada, SK is ranked among the five best Olympic teams, along with China, America, Russia and Germany. This superb team is a paradigm on Earth.
Korea expects to send about 50 champs to the XXI Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada. The country's athletic rulers also expect to send 250 champs to the London 2012 Olympics.
II-A Small Nation With A Big Ambition
From my perspective I think that South Korea is the most successful Olympic nation in history. Now SK became a source of inspiration for many Olympic countries around the world. Certainly, it is a role model for small countries -from Austria to Brunei Darussalam- and multiparty States -e.g. India, Taiwan, Chile, Peru, Argentina Olympialaiset televisiointi
The Republic of Korea, also known as South Korea, is about the size of Indiana. More than 49 million people live there-it is not far off the total in Ukraine. Unlike Venezuela-it has had the benefit of high oil prices, Peru and Angola, Korea has few natural resources. This nation does not have oil, diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, gas, and uranium.
But in the last decades of the 20th century, the Korean State introduced an industrialization program and expand education. The rulers devoted more than 20 percent of its national budget to the development human-education, culture, welfare, sports. Now SK has one of the world's strongest economies.
III-The Difficult Years
In the 1940s and 1950s, SK was a war-torn nation-World War II and Korean War. Because of this, it became one of the world's poorest nations. After World War II ended 35 years of Japanese domination and Korea gained its independence (1948).
From 1950 to '53 nearly three million Koreans died. On the other hand, there were, 500,000 Koreans living overseas. In the following decades Korea was governed by military warlords. In the 1990s SK became a democratic nation.
IV- A Nation of Sports Lovers
During the 1960s and 1970s, the rule introduced many sports reforms -a strong emphasis on physical education into educational system- and did many things to improve sporting life in the nation-an official policy that continued in the 1990s and 2000s. In just a few years, they also promoted the sports that were not well-known in the country.
Success came slowly at first. The number of Asian awards increased from around 27 in 1958 to more than 65 in 1978. From 1964 to '76, the country's champs earned 12 Olympic medals. Another example, Korea's boxers, led by Moon Sung-Kil, won many global titles in the 1980s.
Unlike Cuba -which had a lot of coaches from the USSR, East Germany, Bulgaria, North Korea and Poland- SK did not have foreign coaches. All its Olympic awards were produced by Korean coaches.
To support Seoul's bid to host the 1988 Olympics, the Korean chairmans hosted many international events -the 1979 Shooting World Championships, the 1982 Baseball World Cup, the 1982 Boxing Global Championships and the Korea Cup (volleyball)-and built world-class stadiums.
V- The Boycott Against South Korea
During Cold War, especially between 1950 and 1985, Korea was an isolated Olympic nation. This Asian country was considered an international pariah by the World Marxist and several anti-American states (Korea became a UN member in 1991).
The 1979 Seoul FIBA Women's World Championships were boycotted by the Soviet Union and its allies. Three years later, Cuba's boxers, world & Olympic champions, were not allowed to compete in the World Cup by Fidel Castro. That same year, Cuba also did not send baseball players to the World Championships in South Korea.
In 1986 North Korea boycotted the Asian Games. The Democratic People' s Republic of Korea refused to send champs to SK. Subsequently, the XXIV Seoul Summer Olympic Games were boycotted by seven nations-Albania, Cuba, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, North Korea, and Seychelles. However, the sports officials sent several champs to Moscow, Varna, Havana and Prague.
VI - Seoul Olympic Games- A Gold Medal for Korea
During the IOC Session in Germany in 1981, Seoul was selected as host country for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and began a new era for the country's sports development. Seoul beat Nagoya, Japan's city. That decision caused surprise around the world.
Thirty-eight years ago, Seoul had been destroyed by Korean War, but it had been rebuilt in record time. In the '70s and early '80s, Seoul was a successful host to several international tournaments.