Sunday January 10, 2010 02:46

Son Gi Jeong – 1st Korean gold medalist Olympian

Posted by hying

Have you ever heard of Son Gi Jeong, the Korean marathoner? He was Korea’s first gold medalist in the Olympic marathon.

Son Gi Jeong (Middle) – notice the Japan flag on his chest?

Having placed first in the event at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Another Korean marathoner, Nam Seung Yong won the bronze medal at the same event. Son Gi Jeong passed away in year 2002, but to this day he is highly respected by the Korean people as a national hero.

Sadly, however, his win is not recorded in Olympic history as being Korea’s first gold. At that time, Korea was a Japanese colony.

Son Gi Jeong was forced to compete for the Japanese team using the adopted Japanese name of Son Kitei, the Japanese pronunciation of the hanja making up his name.

As a nationalist, Son Gi Jeong refused to sign his name in Japanese and signed only his Korean name, and even sketched the shape of Korea beside his signatures. When interviewers asked him about his country, he would clarify that Korea was his mother country.

Son Gi Jeong had to wear a Japanese uniform when he went to Berlin. The athlete was a Korean, but he was a citizen of Imperial Japan. The day Son Gi Jeong won his gold medal, a Korean newspaper erased the Japanese flag on his uniform from the picture and published it on the front page. With this Japanese government imprisoned eight persons connected with the newspaper and suspended the publication’s operations for nine months.

Source From: Arirang & Wikipedia

1 Response to Son Gi Jeong – 1st Korean gold medalist Olympian


Korean War Baby

January 10th, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Thank you for this reminder of Korean history! Young Korean students and Koreans living overseas also need to know about the history of nationalism while Korea was ‘not a country’ under the Colonial period under Japanese control. Many have no idea about such figures as Son Gi Jeong and how he spoke out defiantly and at great risk to declare that he was Korean.

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