The last couple Olympics, for at least part of the time, we’ve found ourselves in a house with other families. There’s something really nice about putting the kids down and then watching the Olympics all together. I can’t explain exactly what it is. But it’s nice.
So a question for those of you that are immigrants or children of immigrants that I’ve asked before: if the U.S. went to war with your mother country, and you were forced to choose sides, who would you fight for? If you’re an immigrant living here, I’m of the opinion that you should not just legally but morally fight for the U.S. Life is not just about taking what you can; you’ve got to give back. This country has given me a lot. That’s why my parents came here. It seems only right to give back. If, however, you’re not a citizen or not currently living here, then I suppose anything goes.
Less significantly, when the U.S. plays your home country in sports, who do you root for? I’ve asked this before and received interesting answers. Some – I want to say most – of the people I’ve asked say they would root for their mother country. For various reasons. Some say it depends on the sport. Others say the U.S. is typically dominant, and it’s somewhat more rewarding to root for the underdog. A lot of others have said that they’d root for their mother country because, growing up (or even now), other Americans didn’t view them as true Americans, which is completely fascinating to me and kind of points to how we view ourselves depends a lot on how others view us. For Asian-Americans, our identity may be more Asian because other Americans associate us together, even though (in my case), I barely know the language, barely know the culture, and in pretty much every significant way, I’m far more American than Asian. I wonder if this attitude will change with later generations. Like, who will Joshua root for?
In my case, I root for the U.S.A. for pretty much the same reasons I’d fight a war for it. And honestly, I’m starting to really dislike Korean sports teams, primarily because of Korean sports fans.
This may be true of other cultures, I don’t know, but Koreans are like the kings of holding grudges. This was brought to mind when watching Apolo Ohno in the 1000m short track speed event. The hatred Koreans have for him is absurd. It all stems from the 2002 Olympics, when a South Korean finished first in the 1500m but was disqualified for blocking Ohno, who subsequently received the gold. Ever since then, Koreans have hated Ohno. He received many death threats. Later that year in the World Cup, when a Korean scored a goal against the U.S, the player mimicked a skating motion, referencing Ohno. To this day, he gets booed lustily at events in Korea, necessitating extra security, with security officials expressing concern for his life. And the people I was watching with, all Korean-American, while not hateful, did express extreme, and in my opinion, irrational dislike of Ohno. The ways in which they interpreted every thing Ohno did was so biased (calling him arrogant, a cheater, etc.) that it drove me to root for him with all my heart. I started actively rooting against the Korean team.
There’s so much of the hate that’s irrational. For one, it wasn’t Ohno’s fault that the Korean was disqualified. He may have threw up his hands in frustration, but the judge disqualified the skater, not Ohno. (The same judge disqualified the South Korean women’s relay team who initially finished first yesterday. Maybe this will cause Koreans to hate that judge, an Australian. It won’t cause them to hate Ohno any less, because their hate is irrational.)
Seriously, Korea, let go. Because it’s not just Ohno. South Korea has this unsavory habit of fixating on small negative things and holding on to them forever. As you may or may not know, a famous Korean actress, Choi Jin Sil, committed suicide a while back, and everyone acknowledges that it was caused in part by vicious Internet rumors. A former President, Roh Moo-Hyun committed suicide last year after a corruption probe involving members of his family. Every country has issues with destructive rumors and politically motivated probes. But Koreans take it to another level, and it’s demonstrably led highly visible public figures to kill themselves. Their fixation on the negative is extreme and destructive.
So Koreans, I implore you – let things go. I read a review of a recent biography about Winston Churchill and it included this really great quotation that’s pretty relevant so I’ll reproduce it here:
Churchill wasted an extraordinarily small amount of his time and emotional energy on the meannesses of life: recrimination, shifting the blame onto others, malice, revenge seeking, dirty tricks, spreading rumors, harboring grudges, waging vendettas. Having fought hard, he washed his hands and went on to the next contest. It is one reason for his success. There is nothing more draining and exhausting than hatred. And malice is bad for the judgment. Churchill loved to forgive and make up… Nothing gave him more pleasure than to replace enmity with friendship, not least with the Germans.
That’s a lesson all of us can take, not the least me. And Korean sports fans.
One result I loved is that in the 1500m short track speed skating final, Koreans occupied the top 3 positions going into the final turn, when the Korean in 3rd place decided to be aggressive and try and overtake the 2nd place Korean, but in doing so made them both fall, thereby giving the silver medal to… Apolo Ohno. That’s poetic justice.
And the ironic thing is that I think Ohno’s arrogant also (though not as bad as he used to be). But I guess I’m turned off by the hate of my fellow mother-countrymen even more.