Yuna Kim

by Tryphena from San Diego

Kim Yuna Imagine Gala 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics ( ())
Kim Yuna Imagine Gala 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics ( ())

The music starts, and she cracks a smile, summoning her inner diva and teasing spectators with her facial expressions. Her costume glistens in the light and with fluid beauty and poise she sails into a triple toe loop combination. The last beats of the music fade as she strikes her final pose, throwing her head back in triumph. As she blinks back tears, Kim Yuna leaves the ice, flowers raining down from all corners of the arena. Her performance of overflowing grace, elegance and undying force had rendered the rest of the world speechless. She had done it. All the sweat, tears and blood she endured was for this moment, Olympic gold. As effortless as her skating seems, achieving this dream was not easy for her. She started humbly, born in Bucheon, South Korea on September 05, 1990, and began skating at the age of seven. "During [her] early skating years, there were not many ice rinks in Korea and even the few rinks that existed, most of them were public. Even now, when athletes want to practice, they have to use the rink very early [in the] morning or late at night" (Palk). Despite her difficulties, Yuna challenged boundaries and paved the road for even greater success. Battling numerous injuries and dealing with the pressure of an entire nation on her shoulder, she emerged to conquer World and Olympic titles. In South Korea she is known as Queen Yuna, one of the most popular athletes, advertising everything from cosmetics to cars. Kim Yuna may be a queen to some, a world class skater to many, and a superstar to others, but 23 year-old Kim Yuna who clinched South Korea's first Olympic medal in figure skating is not your average celebrity. The record books will state an Olympic gold and silver medal, a two-time World champion, and the first woman to break the ISU 200 point scale, but the significance of her achievements is the indelible impact it will leave on the lives she has touched. Aside from Kim Yuna's jaw-dropping magnificence and athletic prowess on the ice she sparks flames of inspiration around the world because of her selfless altruism, humble mentality, and her courageous heart.

Kim Yuna UNICEF Ambassador  ( ())
Kim Yuna UNICEF Ambassador ( ())

Kim Yuna's outpouring of selflessness and her genuine commitment to working for the benefit of others inspires the many who look up to her. Even in her hectic training schedule, she chooses to sacrifice time for others. As Jere Longman of the New York times says: "There is a gravity about Kim, too. As a good-will ambassador for UNICEF, she donated money to earthquake victims in Haiti, typhoon victims in the Philippines and children displaced by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. She also appeared in a special video marking the six month anniversary of the earthquake to thank donors and urge continued support for the children in Haiti. She says, 'When I was a young girl, I dreamt of winning an Olympic medal for my country in figure skating. I was able to make this dream come true because I could take for granted things that hundreds of millions of children cannot'"(Longman). Kim has been gifted with a heart of gratitude; her own taste of hardships and poverty allowing her to sympathize with those less fortunate. The word "gravity" commands respect and shows the importance she holds in her role of leadership. In her success it is easy for her to get caught up in her own accomplishments. However, instead of being blinded by her personal fame and pride, Kim Yuna uses her fame as a platform to enrich the lives of others. Although her humanitarian efforts have received publicity in recent years, she never makes a spectacle of her own importance yet emphasizes the noble act itself. Her eagerness to improve the lives of underprivileged and sick children inspires others to open their minds to the suffering. As a prominent figure who is adored by the public, especially young people, her power cannot be underestimated as.  Her greatest contribution is not to those receiving the aid but the public who is inspired by her selflessness. Along with her humanitarian work she also displays selflessness in her support and consideration for others. When asked by Clara Kim of Time Magazine if it was a risk to include traditional Korean music in her long program, she replied, "I wanted to do something for the Korean fans who have given me so much attention and support. It was a present to them. Honestly, I don't think it spoke to the international judges as effectively." (Clara Kim). Kim Yuna chooses to sacrifice her score and chances of winning, but she warmed the hearts of those who recognized her selflessness. She possesses the ability to put herself into other's shoes and understand things from other's perspectives. Regardless of the impact it would have on international judges, her selflessness was able to shine through as she made the difficult decision to sacrifice time practicing for the event. She did not expect anything in return for her self-sacrifice yet acted solely for the sake of honoring her country. Her reputation as a humanitarian activist and the sacrifices she makes for the benefit of others motivates people all over the world.

Yuna Kim shakes hands with Adelina Sotnikova ( ())
Yuna Kim shakes hands with Adelina Sotnikova ( ())

Kim sets herself apart from other skaters with her usual artistic qualities, elegance and confidence but what makes Kim truly extraordinary is her humble mentality. When reporters at the 2014 Sochi Olympics asked about the fairness of the scores, she choose her words carefully and would not allege to any controversy: "'I did all I wanted to do, like I wanted to do it,' she said. 'The score is given by the judges. I'm not in the right position to comment on it.'" ("Kim Claims Sochi Silver"). Kim Yuna the queen of figure skating, and the favorite going into the competition was inclined to hold a sense of entitlement toward the gold medal. However she remained composed and reacted calmly to the uproar about her second place finish. She was humble even in defeat, acknowledging the unexpected result with a gracious smile. Unlike most athletes, she does not strive for the recognition that comes from winning a gold medal but for the respect that comes from those who look up to her. For her the competition was more about doing her best and putting down a performance for her fans and her who had waited so long to see her compete. Kim most likely harbored questions about the judging that night, however she was never inclined to criticize any of her opponents and showed no outward signs of displeasure. Despite her own flawless performance, she warmly congratulated the other skaters on the podium, including gold-medalist Adelina Sotnikova. Kim Yuna's inner strength transcends any Olympic crown as she showed the world that losing that coveted gold medal means nothing to her. Though Russian officials and judges may be able to rob her of a medal they cannot take away her humble attitude and the respect she gained that day. Yuna continues to show her grace and humility, even off the rink. After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote Kim Yuna to congratulate her on her gold medal winning performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Kim penned a handwritten letter to Clinton reading: "My name is Yu-Na Kim, and I am a South Korean figure skater. I owe my achievement in Vancouver to the passionate dedication of my coaching staff and the wholehearted devotion of my family. The affectionate support of my beloved fans has also been a source of tremendous energy. It was very humbling to read newspapers reporting that you had complimented my performance." (Kim Hyun Cheol) In today's world electronic communication through emails, social media and text have taken over the intimate handwritten letter. With the time she sacrificed to write that one heart-felt letter, Yuna was able to express the depth of her gratitude. What makes this heart-felt letter even more meaningful is that it proved that fame and pride did not corrupt her mind. Although she basks in the limelight and attention of the world she does not credit her success to her own hard work and perseverance. Instead, she goes beyond her own importance and shifts the focus to her family, coaches, and fans. Kim Yuna's overflowing humility is displayed as the first words she spills out are of praise and thanksgiving. Through her humility we realize that Kim Yuna is so much more than just a "South Korean figure skater".

Kim Yuna as Special Olympic Ambassador ( ())
Kim Yuna as Special Olympic Ambassador ( ())

On top of Kim Yuna's overflowing selflessness and humility she possesses a courage that captivates hearts. "'There was this young woman out there on the Olympic ice and all these cameras are constantly on her,' Pham said. 'She was not scared. She just wanted to pray: she didn't care who was watching'" (Mena). Despite her admitted shyness and reserved personality, Kim Yuna is not hesitant when it comes to displaying her faith and beliefs. As someone who stands on an international celebrity stage she sets herself apart by managing to hold true to her moral values. She takes a bold step of courage to stay true to her beliefs, knowing that today's society does not value or agree with the blatant faith Kim displays. Through her example she inspires others to be more public about their faith. In a press conference after her Silver medal at the Sochi Olympics she said: "When I saw my score results after the short program, from the vibe of it all, I sensed it. I guess I expected how the results would end up. I drew all possible scenarios inside my head before competitions, so I was prepared mentally. I cannot change scores and I respect the judges. I did all I could and have no regrets. That was my goal coming to Sochi. I'm just so happy and relieved to be done." (Kim Yuna) The courage, heart, and fortitude Kim displayed that night in Sochi was incredible. She no doubt sensed that the judges would give Russia the gold medal even before she took the ice. Even then she never blinked and courageously followed through with her routine, leaving with a smile on her face. She held the while knowing the majority of the crowd was rooting against her. She completed her long and tough journey with two perfect clean, beautiful and touching programs, leaving her legacy etched in the ice behind her. It does not matter that she was robbed because Yuna's courage and character is what stands above any title.

Yuna Kim at the 2010 World Gala ( ())
Yuna Kim at the 2010 World Gala ( ())

Kim Yuna's character has captivated millions across the globe, pulling them deeper into her inner beauty. From her courage soul to her selfless and humble attitude, Kim Yuna is an eternal, genuine hero. Yuna's personal hero Michelle Kwan acknowledges: "Kim's inspiring performances in Vancouver changed the face of figure skating forever. Those 6½ minutes on the ice left not only a mark in the record book but also an indelible impression on millions of young girls around the world. For Kim, the dream that began as a 7-year-old has been realized. For these girls, thanks to her, a dream and journey are just beginning." (Kwan) Just as Kim was once inspired by her hero Michelle Kwan, millions of young children around the world are inspired by the goodness she radiates.  The first time I watched Kim Yuna perform, I was awed by her gift to touch hearts with her skating; every movement was marked with surreal grace and executed to absolute perfection. However the admiration and respect I hold for Yuna goes beyond her mesmerizing performances. She overwhelms me with her courage, her humility and her selflessness. Battling poor training conditions, various injuries and the pressure of an entire nation she rose above obstacles life threw at her. Her story of success achieved with hard work and perseverance motivates me to reach higher and to push my limits. Queen Yuna will leave a profound legacy etched into the hearts of the innumerable lives she has touched. More than being remembered as the Vancouver gold medalist or the Sochi silver medalist, I just want people to remember that there was once a skater named Yuna Kim." (Kim Hyun-Gi).

Works Cited

Kim, Clara. "10 Questions with Kim Yu-Na." Time. Time Inc., 19 Aug. 2011. Web. 03 Apr. 2014. .

Kim, Hyun-cheol. "Yu-na Gets Reply from Clinton." Koreatimes. Korea Times, 09 July 2010. Web. 3 Apr. 2014. .

Kwan, Michelle. "The 2010 TIME 100." Time. Time Inc., 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 03 Apr. 2014. .

Longman, Jere. "A Battle for Gold and Posterity." The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 Apr. 2014. .

Mena, Addie. "Share." Olympic Figure Skating Star Hailed as Example for Catholics. Catholic News Agency, 16 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 Apr. 2014. .

"NBC Olympics." NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics, 20 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 Apr. 2014. .

"NBC Olympics." NBC Olympics. N.p., 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 Apr. 2014. .

Page created on 4/17/2014 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/17/2014 12:00:00 AM

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