Speed skater Kim Bo-reum apologizes for blamSpeed skater Kim Bo-reum apologizes for blaming teammateing teammate

February 20, 2018
South Korean speed skater Kim Bo-reum cries during a press conference held in Gangneung, around 240 kilometers east of Seoul, on Feb. 20, 2018. (Yonhap)

South Korean speed skater Kim Bo-reum cries during a press conference held in Gangneung, around 240 kilometers east of Seoul, on Feb. 20, 2018. (Yonhap)

By Kang Yoon-seung

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) — South Korean speed skater Kim Bo-reum, who faced a public backlash after blaming her teammate for failing to pass preliminaries in the women’s team pursuit, on Tuesday delivered an official apology.

“I did an interview the previous day, and I apologize for hurting the feelings of many people,” Kim said during a press conference. “It is my fault that I failed to keep track of teammates behind me.”

The three-member team of Kim, Park Ji-woo, and Noh Seon-yeong clocked 3:03.76 in the event at Gangneung Oval in Gangneung, a sub-host city of the 2018 Winter Games. The Netherlands, Japan, Canada, and the United States moved on to the semifinals.

During the race, Noh fell far behind teammates, and failed to narrow the gap until reaching the finish line. Kim and Park were seen not looking back and only focused on their speed.

Shortly after the race, Kim said the disappointing result came due to the lack of communication among teammates.

The skater under fire said the team’s pursuit performance is based on the last athlete to finish, and said that hindered the team from moving up to finals, apparently targeting Noh.

The public immediately expressed anger about the race where Kim far outpaced Noh despite the event being a team race. Some said she lacked respect for her team. Noh was not present at the press conference.

Noh had the longest journey to PyeongChang, which also led the public to express sympathy regarding the race on the previous day. The skater almost missed her spot here due to a mix-up by the nation’s skating union, but was saved last-minute due to the absence of Russian players.

Noh is also the sister of late short track star Noh Jin-kyu who died from bone cancer in 2016.

Reflecting the public’s anger, more than 200,000 South Koreans signed a petition to the presidential office to disqualify her as a national team member. The government is obligated to make an official response when 200,000 people sign a petition within one month.

The 25-year-old skater also closed her social media pages amid the controversy.

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