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Pres. Lee Hosts Luncheon for Winter Olympians

Posted March. 04, 2010 08:46,   


The Korean national team’s success at the Vancouver Winter Olympics has brought together leaders from the ruling and opposition parties.

President Lee Myung-bak yesterday invited ruling Grand National Party Chairman Chung Mong-joon and main opposition Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun to a luncheon with the team.

Chung Sye-kyun visited the presidential office for the first time since April last year, when he attended a meeting with President Lee and other party leaders. “I heard that gold medals raise approval ratings,” the opposition leader said.

President Lee then elicited a burst of laugher from participants by responding, “Are you worried about that?”

The Dong-A Ilbo reported Tuesday that the president’s approval rating grows three to five percentage points if Korea shows a good performance at global sporting events.

Also attending the luncheon was former Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee in his capacity as a member of the International Olympic Committee. Visiting the presidential office for the first time since President Lee took office, Lee Kun-hee said, “The country seems to have had a lot of luck.”

President Lee praised the Olympians, saying, “Many said you pulled off a miracle but I believe a miracle cannot be achieved without sweat, passion and hard work.”

“When I watched speed skating, I wished I could push them to help them get ahead. When Kim Yu-na was about to jump, I closed my eyes. When I opened my eyes, she landed her jump.”

“I believe that all 50 million Koreans shared my feelings at the time,” he added.

The president also gave words of encouragement to athletes who failed to win medals, telling speed skater Lee Kyu-hyuk, “All Koreans felt sorry for you.”

He told bobsledder Kang Kwang-bae, “Did you finish in 19th place?” adding, “This is a gold medal. The athlete who came in first wouldn’t have advanced to the finals had he trained in such (poor) conditions as we have.”

“I watched the film ‘Take Off’ twice. I’ve been to a ski jump tower. There was only one training ground,” President Lee said. “Despite this, you did very well. I’m very proud of you.”

In a question and answer session, figure skating gold medalist Kim said, “I’ve achieved my goal as an athlete. I’ve yet to make long-term plans. I’d just like to enjoy this moment.”

National team leader Park Seong-in said, “Kim wrote a letter of thanks to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” Clinton praised Kim’s performance Friday in a meeting with Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan in Washington.

Kwak Yoon-ki, the silver medalist in the men’s 5,000 meter short track team relay, reenacted the dance he performed at the winner’s podium.

Speed skating gold medalists Mo Tae-bum and Lee Sang-hwa also gave the goggles they wore in the competition to the president and the first lady as presents.

President Lee again provoked laughter by wearing the goggles and pretending to wait for the start signal on the starting line.

Kim Yu-na also presented her essay “Kim Yu-na’s Seven Minute Drama” to President Lee.