Two Russian Olympians bashed online by Koreans

February 25, 2014


By Jung Min-ho

Two Russian Olympians have been targeted for online bashing by Korean netizens.

One is Adelina Sotnikova, who won a gold medal in women’s figure skating over Kim Yu-na in the just-ended Sochi Olympics.

The other is Viktor Ahn, the former Korean short-track speed skating star, who won three gold medals and one bronze for his adopted nation.

Kim succeeded in her mission by ending her career in style with a silver medal in Sochi. But many Koreans believed that she was robbed of a gold medal by judges who favored hometown favorite Sotnikkova, the 17-year-old who defeated Kim by 5.48 points with a final score of 224.59 points.

Sotnikova’s Facebook page is now filled with comments conveying hate, many of them written by Koreans.

They include threats such as, “I will be waiting at the airport, if you come to Korea for the next Olympics.”

The disturbing online attacks, accompanied by a petition at to overturn the figure-skating outcome, appear to be a source of frustration and fatigue for the rest of the Internet world.

Since International Skating Union rules require protests be filed immediately after an event, the result will likely stand, and such attacks under the cloak of patriotism will likely only hinder Kim, who is seeking a career on the International Olympic Committee.

Yet the online abuse shows no sign of abating.

When Ahn won his first medal in the men’s 1,500-meter short-track speed skating over Korean skaters on Feb. 10, he was extolled and the Korea Skating Union was instead blamed for losing the talent because of factionalism within the organization.

But after the figure-skating controversy, Ahn was called a “traitor,” “spy” and “selfish man” on his Cyworld page, which he later shut down.

It wasn’t just Russians that were blamed for winning over Koreans. Short-track speed skater Elise Christie of Britain also got abused online after causing a crash in the women’s 500-meter event, taking Park Seung-hi with her when she fell.

Christie was disqualified but was targeted by “thousands” of obscene Twitter messages from Korean fans forcing her to delete her account.