woori yuna

About The KSU

Posted in actors/actresses, CF, figure skaters, KSU by wooriyuna on January 22, 2009
Johnny Weir Yuna Kim Angels On Ice 2008

Johnny Weir · Yuna Kim · Angels On Ice 2008

America was always a very strong nation in figure skating and in sports and there are a lot of countries now that are coming up, that are smaller countries, that have maybe a little bit more so they can focus on their athletes’ career. Korea is completely invested in Yu-Na Kim, because she can win an Olympic gold medal for Korea. She’s their only top level athlete they have so they have that extra push that they can put into her.

The quote above is taken from a press conference at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships with U.S. figure skater, Johnny Weir. One of the topics of discussion was the money woes of an elite figure skater. According to this article:

Expenses for an elite skater can run more than $60,000 a year. Besides coaching and costumes, many pay for ice time, a choreographer, a ballet coach and a massage therapist. Ice time can cost anywhere from about $135 an hour in the Midwest to as much as $350 an hour, though most elite skaters pay only a fraction of that.

At his press conference, Johnny Weir made a point that the U.S. figure skating federation helps out with costs, but can only pay for so much. For the most part, skaters need to pay for all these expenses themselves. He points to federations from around the world, particularly in Japan and Korea, and states these countries are completely invested in their top skaters.

Now, my intention here is not to pick on Johnny, but only to clear any misconceptions and right now it appears Johnny and possibly many figure skating fans have no idea how exactly Yuna climbed her way to the top. It’s true Korea is completely invested in Yuna Kim, but when I say Korea, I’m talking about the general public. The people of Korea are smitten with not only Yuna, but with the sport of figure skater as well.

However, the statement, “Korea is completely invested in Yuna” doesn’t ring true at all when we’re talking about the Korean figure skating federation, otherwise known as the Korean Skating Union (KSU). Unlike most other countries where separate federations exist for speed skating and figure skating, in Korea both sports are managed by one body, the KSU. In case you didn’t know, speed skating (short track) is one sport Koreans are dominant in. Off topic: Koreans aren’t top contenders in many sports, but the ones they do excel at, like short track speed skating, archery and golf, all require extreme precision. This may be just me, but I believe it’s why Yuna’s edges in her jumps are among the best in her field. It’s because she has that drive to be so precise like Korean golfers, archers, and short track speed skaters. Heh, it’s only a half-baked theory of mine.

Back on topic: the common misbelief is the KSU has been 100% supportive of the country’s first figure skater wonder. The truth is, it is hardly the case and instead of the National Little Sister, Yuna was the annoying, kid sister who wouldn’t go away. Think about it, short track speed skating has been one of the few sports Koreans have been a powerhouse in the international scene. It’s been the only sport KSU has invested in and suddenly this little sprite on figure skates comes in and needs a little attention and support from them to get her to places like international competitions around the world. From Yuna’s junior days, the KSU’s mentality has always been skeptical and reluctant in support of her. It’s as if they were thinking to themselves, who does this kid think she is? We’re Korean. We don’t figure skate, we speed skate. This kid isn’t going to get anywhere. She’s only going to waste our money when she comes back home with mediocre results.

Nonetheless, even when Yuna kept breaking new records for her country in the sport of figure skating, the KSU didn’t change their attitude and treatment towards her. In fact, the more attention Yuna received and the more her fanbase in Korea grew, the more displeased the KSU became. They developed a jealous, older sibling complex.

Then how exactly did Yuna manage to pay for all her expenses when clearly she received minimal aid from the KSU? Fortunately, even though the KSU tried to ignore Yuna, the Korean public knows a good thing when they see it! It is not the KSU, but the Korean public who is completely invested in Yuna. As Yuna gained more and more fans with each competition, many lucrative offers were made to her by major companies who needed a famous face to sell their products.

A Nike CF from 2008

In the Korean entertainment industry, high profile actors and actresses usually make most of their money from CFs. CF stands for Commercial Film. Unlike American television where commercials are done by unknowns, most commercials on Korean television are done by top billed actors and other high profiled names in the country, like comedians, singers, and athletes. Often times, a celebrity’s popularity is measured by the amount of CFs he or she has. Due to Yuna’s immense popularity, she is currently one of the most profitable CF stars.

Hauzen CF January 2009

Hauzen CF · January 2009

The picture above is part of an advertisement for Hauzen air conditioners. Air conditioners are a necessity in Korea since most areas of living do not come with a central cooling system. Separate air conditioning machines are bought instead. Hauzen is one of the leading sellers of air conditioners. Another leading brand is LG and they also released a CF recently with popular actors Song Seung Hun and Han Ye Seul.

LG vs Hauzen

This is not the official CF, but part of the advertisement from Hauzen.

So, how’s the family dynamic now? The KSU has finally come to terms with Yuna’s popularity. They tried to mar her image during a past debacle with a former coach, but it only made fan support for Yuna even more prominent and showed the KSU that Yuna is a force not to be taken lightly with. The coach who made ridiculous accusations against Yuna was later forced to make an official apology for her lies. So yes, the KSU has tried to harm Yuna’s image, but to no avail. They can’t get rid of her nor can they do harm to her. Their only option now is to exploit her. It’s a well known fact in the Korean figure skating fandom that the KSU does not serve to the interest of Yuna and her fans, but instead Yuna is being used by the KSU for their own service.

Yuna has proven a nobody starting from absolute zero can accomplish getting to the top. What if that same girl had grown up with the proper training equipment and facilities? Imagine how much more she could have accomplished with these provisions. This is precisely what Yuna hopes for for the future figure skaters of Korea. Nevertheless, the KSU remains preoccupied with short track speed skating and refuses to acknowledge the needs of figure skaters. Like Yuna in the past, the current national figure skating team receives minimal aid from the KSU compared to speed skaters. Using her own earnings from her CFs, Yuna has made donation after donation to the Korean figure skating community. She has awarded scholarships to many figure skaters on the national team.

Yuna Kim with the national team December 2008

Yuna Kim with the national team December 2008

The point here is not to make Yuna into a benevolent skating fairy, but to bring attention to how worthless the KSU is. If Korea is going to develop a bigger prominence in figure skating, then serious reform is needed in the KSU. The national figure skating team shouldn’t have to rely on Yuna for money nor should Yuna be forced with the responsibility to always provide for other skaters (but God bless her generosity!).

If things continue to run the way as it is now, this boom in figure skating Yuna has ignited in Korea can end up fruitless. The seeds have been planted all over Korea because of Yuna, but with no major governing body to nurture young skaters today, Yuna could end up as an example of a one hit wonder for Korea.

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  1. […] preview for her show is one of many, many parodies of Yuna’s Hauzen CF. This is the […]

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