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Like Grandfather, Like Granddaughter

Posted March. 16, 2003 22:33,   


"Thought marathon was a fight of my own. I`ve realized that it is impossible to win without the support and cheering of fans. What would my grandfather think while running in a foreign country, wearing not his own country`s flag, but the occupier`s?"

A granddaughter proved a marathon temperament running in her family. She is Son Eun-kyoung, granddaughter of Berlin Olympics marathon gold medallist Son Ki-jong. At her first trial, she finished up the full course for 4 hours and 32 minutes in the Dong-A International Marathon, which took place on March 16th.

At the finish line, novel-writer Yoo Mee-ri, who gave up on the race at around 30km, was waiting for Ms. Son. Holding Son up, Yoo asked repeatedly, "Are you OK?"

Yoo and Son first met in 1996. At that time, Yoo was collecting data on her grandfather Yang Im-duk, who was a marathoner under the Japanese occupation. In the process, she got to meet the late Son Ki-jong, the gold medallist in marathon in the Berlin Olympics. Seeing her activities on TV, Ms. Son wrote a letter to Yoo with her wish to get together. Then, right upon their first meeting, they got on good terms with each other, which have been maintained so far.

Yoo first finished up the full course in the Dong-A Marathon. Seeing this, Son got motivated. Visiting Korea for cheering for Yoo, Ms. Son got inspired by Yoo`s spirits. Then, she dropped by Yoo last October, who was practicing in Tokyo, and expressed her wish for participation in the race.

Then, the day came. The two began to run together at 8:00 a.m. on March 16th. Recognizing Yoo, the cheering South Koreans asked each other, "Who`s running next to Yoo? Her sister?" With both having oval facial shape and high nose, they looked like biological sisters.

About three hours into the race, Yoo was running far behind Son. Near the Jamsil station, she gave up on the race, feeling her body temperature falling down.

Switching from running to walking from time to time, She moved the viewers with her persistent attitude. "Is she the granddaughter of late Mr. Son? Something`s different." Son Jong-in, the father of Ms. Son and son of late Mr. Son, proudly said, "My daughter was born and raised in Japan. She suffered a lot due to the identity problem. Where she may live, she will take pride in the fact that, in her blood, the Korean national spirit runs."

Regaining her strength after some break, Son and Yoo said in one voice, "Next year? Of course, we will finish it up together."

Yoon-Jong Yoo gustav@donga.com