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Olympics Exert Unifying Effect on Korean Society

Posted August. 26, 2008 08:13,   


The effects of Korea`s Beijing Olympics success go beyond the sports sector. Experts say the outstanding performance can help the country eradicate ideological conflict and inspire hope and confidence.

Myongji University professor Kim Hyeong-jun said, “Before the Beijing Olympics, Korea suffered from social conflict. The stellar performance of the Korean team in Beijing, however, was enough to root out social disruption and ideological conflict that seemed irreparable.”

The Olympic Games was a chance for Korea to restore confidence and reaffirm that Koreans can overcome difficulties if they cooperate.

Koreans also assembled at Gwanghwamun in downtown Seoul, where an event was held to welcome Korean athletes returning from China. Cheonggye Plaza and Seoul Plaza were full of cheerful voices crying, “Korea.” Around 20,000 people welcoming their sports heroes shouted “Korea” in chorus.

The two places hosting the event were also the venues for social protests. Around 570,000 Koreans have marched at the places from May, when candlelight vigils were held against the resumption of U.S. beef imports.

As the Olympic Games began, however, the two places transformed into venues of unity.

“Cheonggye Plaza and Seoul Plaza, which were designed cultural space for Seoulites, regained order thanks to the Olympic Games," said Seoul city spokesman Shin Myung-ho. "Koreans rooted for their sports stars more enthusiastically because of their good performance. I hope the excitement in central Seoul can be nurtured into healthy energy.”

The challenge now is to find measures to develop the regained energy into a powerful force.

Sogang University sociology professor Jeon Sang-jin said, “No one can deny that Koreans, who`ve been sick and tired of political and social issues for the past six months, have regained their dynamic energy via the Olympic Games. The government and politicians should play their due role in making good use of the energy.”

The Olympics is also likely to positively affect the economy. Park Deok-bae of Hyundai Economic Research Institute said, “The Olympic Games has presented Korea with an opportunity to root out social disruption domestically and improve the national image internationally. The ground for economic growth is now prepared. The only challenge for Koreans is to move forward.”

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