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Korean ice dance duo to perform at PyeongChang Olympics

Posted January. 11, 2018 08:09,   

Updated January. 11, 2018 08:29


The South Korean ice dance tandem of Min Yu-ra and Gamelin Alexander sang together Arirang, the best known Korean folk song, to the beat of it. The duo will skate their free dance program to Arirang Alone by singer Sohyang. They will also dance wearing modernized Korean dress hanbok.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Gamelin acquired his South Korean citizenship last July through a special naturalization examination. His U.S. name is Alexander Gamelin, but on his South Korean passport and identification card says Gamelin Alexander.

“I am listening to various versions of Arirang every day,” a23-year-old ice skater Gamelin said at the Golden Seoul Hotel, western Seoul, last Saturday. “When I first heard Arirang, I thought it was about sorrow. But as I kept listening to it, it felt like a song about hope that would come after sorrow,” he said “We want to skate our best and present a wonderful performance that can deliver hope at the Winter Olympics, so that we can represent South Korea as a great ice dancing team.”

As the Min-Gamelin duo is to perform on the ice in Pyeongchang, South Korean ice dancing team will get to represent the country in 16 years since the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. The two skaters, who previously skated to upbeat K-pop songs, chose Arirang to introduce Korean traditional music to the world. “The coaches said we should change the music because Arirang was a strange song to foreign judges. Some international judges advised me to change our selection,” said 22-year-old Min. “But I did not give up because I wanted to let the world know Arirang so badly.”

The skating pair, the world No. 29, has been training at the Novi Ice Arena in Michigan since they teamed up in 2015. They are the only ice dancers who participated in the three Olympic qualifying competitions in figure skating. Min said she has also taking ballet and modern dance classes for expressive moves, besides training on the ice four hours a day.

A newly naturalized Korean, Gamelin, who will be representing South Korea at the Olympics, is doing his best to become a perfect Korean. “I love Korean food such as bulgogi and kimchi. Every time I come to Korea and whenever I have time, I go to Korean restaurants to enjoy a lot of Korean food,” Gamelin said with pride. “I feel honored when I sing the national anthem and I show my Korean passport at an immigration checkpoint.”

The pair’s first goal is to pass their short dance program. There are 24 ice dancing teams at the Olympics. The Min and Gamelin pair should be in top 20 to be qualified for a spot in the free dance programs at the Gangneung Ice Arena.

“We want to present really a good performance in the short program so that we can compete in the free program,” the south Korean duo said. “We want to skate to Arirang with the cheering crowd.”

Yun-Cheol Jeong trigger@donga.com