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Ah, Gye Soon-hui!

Posted October. 02, 2002 22:55,   


The people’s hero of North Korea, Gye, Soon-hui (22) lost.

There was ‘Sold Out’ sign in front of the Gudok Gymnasium, where Judo matches of the Busan Asian Games have been held for 3 days, on the 2nd. People, who did not know that it was sold out and visited the Gymnasium, had to make a long line to get at least the standing ticket.

What brings all those people? It was the North Korean Judo Hero Gye, Soon-Hui (22), who played the female 52kg match.

Gye, Soon-Hui played up to her reputation in the first round against BUNDMAA Munkhbaatar and won by Ippon (one point in competition) with a perfect spring wrap throw with 2 minutes to go after getting 3 consecutive Yukos (scores less than a wasa-ari) with two arm shoulder wheel, minor outside hook, and minor inner reaping.

However, Gye, Soon-Hui met an unexpected opponent in the 2nd round and be absent minded. She was dragged into the smart slow paced game by Xian Dongmei of China, whose international career was to win the Beijing Universiad last year only, and lost without playing her game.

Xian Dongmei might think that she could not do anything if she got caught, and she cut off Gye, Soon-Hui to get near her and induced anxiety, and she tried sudden two arm shoulder throw with 2 minutes to go. Her technique was half successful and the referee from Hong Kong declared a Koka (score less than yuko) immediately. Although, fortunately, she just allowed a point because Korean and Iranian judges declared ineffective, it was natural that Gye, Soon-Hui was pressed mentally. After that, Gye, Soon-Hui started to attack the lower part of the body rather than the upper part.

However, Xian Dongmei was even in physical strength with ‘a matchless warrior’ Gye, Soon-Hui, and although Gye, Soon-Hui tried shoulder wheel with 39 seconds to go, it was vanished with the referee’s ‘stop’ sign, so she had to leave her fate to a decision. The result was a 1-2 lost by a decision because the referee and the Iranian judge recognized Xian Dongmei’s two arm shoulder throw as the only point.

It was the moment that the Judo hero, who won the designation of ‘People’s Hero’ by winning the 2001 World Championship that she attended with changing to 56kg division after winning the 96 Olympics in Atlanta (48kg), which she attended when she was only 16.

Gye, Soon-Hui, who left a deep impression as much as to be called ‘Gye, Soon-Hui syndrome’ to the Korean fans, became the biggest popular star of the Games with a shy smile and kind attitudes to everybody. Therefore, the unexpected lost is shocking.

Sang-Ho Kim hyangsan@donga.com