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South Korea's Public Enemy Number One? Apolo Anton Ohno, Still

On Saturday -- or today or tomorrow or in March, depending on how many times you watched Leno at 10 p.m. -- NBC will be sure to inform you that Apolo Anton Ohno has a chance to become the most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. history with a medal in the men's 1,000 meters in short track speed skating. I suspect that prospect will be met with much less excitement in South Korea, a nation that seems to hate Ohno with a passion.

See, in 2002, Ohno won a gold medal in the 1,500 meters after South Korean Kim Dong-Sung was disqualified for blocking. Ohno threw his hands up while trying to pass Kim during that race, perhaps begging for the foul, and South Koreans have seized on that fact and seethed about it since. That's why one company once sold toilet paper with Ohno's smiling face on it. That's why there was reportedly a video game that involved shooting Ohno in the head. That's why Ohno's name has become synonymous with chicanery, as in "Ohnolike" or "Ohnoish," adjectives applied to dirty tricks.

While those of us with red, white, and blue-tinted glasses see Ohno as one of our greatest athletes and a guy whose focus is as laserlike as his off-track ethos is chill, Koreans see someone so cunning and conniving that he would try to pit Korean against Korean and benefit. Disregarding my suspicion that Ohno lacks the brains to be "fuel(ing) Koreans' animosity and divisiveness," isn't that one heck of a charge to level at someone not working in political opposition research?

I don't think I'll be rooting for Ohno any harder than I would for any other American in his upcoming races, though. This hate, despite the sensational details in news reports, hasn't caused Ohno a ton of hardship, and ultimately seems like jingoism that is all bark and no bite. But I do want a South Korean university to be part of the SEC immediately. If this is how they react to questionable calls, we may have hope of working on that officiating problem.

(HT: Josh Q. Public.)


This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.