Winter Olympics: South Korea’s accidental curling superstars

Feb 22, 2018

South Korean hearts have been captured at the Winter Olympics in a way no-one expected. The understated, nerdy but cool Korean women’s curlers are slaying giants and could win a medal, reports the BBC’s Stephen McDonell in Pyeongchang.

Sure, there are the speed skaters, the two-man bobsleigh, the joint North-South women’s hockey team and a host of other local athletes competing their socks off at Pyeongchang – but none of them has been able to match the national enthusiasm for the “garlic girls”.

In a country which only a few weeks ago had barely heard of curling, this team continues to score win after upset win. Now they’re in medal contention and commentators are even starting to talk about them as a chance for the gold.

The Garlic Girls are so named because of the small garlic-producing region they come from. Then there are the names they gave each other after sitting down for breakfast one day: Steak, Yogurt, Pancake, Sunny and Chocho.

The five-woman team, led by skipper Kim Eun-jung (all are surnamed Kim), includes two sisters and they are all schoolmates.

They appear so modest, but these incredible, determined underdogs are winning comfortably against established curling nations like Canada, the UK, the US and Sweden, who are currently second-placed. Team Korea started as eighth seeds and are now sitting on top.

What’s more, they seem to be becoming more confident by the day.

Team vice-captain Kim Kyeong-ae said: “What we do is focus on one shot at a time, not on the strength of those we’re playing. One shot at a time: we don’t care about anything else.”

Another player, Kim Seon-yeong, spoke to reporters about their remarkable run. “Look, we still have more games to go,” she said. “We’ll only know how well we’ve done at the end but we are definitely trying to finish on top.”


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