Kiwi Olympic
hopefuls get
Korea savvy

With the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, fast approaching, skiers, snowboarders and speed skaters aiming to make the New Zealand Winter Olympic Team attended a Foundation workshop in Wanaka to learn about Korean culture.

Watch this video to get a taste of what the workshop was like

The workshop gave the athletes insight into Korean history, customs and language as well as introducing them to traditional Korean games.

Freestyle skier Finn Bilious says learning about the country you are visiting is not only about preparation for the games, but also about respecting your host.

“I think it’s really good to do a workshop like this as it gives you a bigger overview on what the games are really going to be like…

“I think it’s good to just be aware of where we’re going and how to act when we’re there.”

Similarly, alpine ski racer Piera Hudson says learning a few words of Korean before going there is a sign of respect and shows that you’ve made an effort.

“I definitely want to get savvy with my Korean before I get to the games so I can at least communicate with some of the locals, and just so I can respect them and know what to say back to them.”

She says it’s important the team makes an effort as they are not only representing themselves but are ambassadors for their country.

“We’re on a world stage so we want to represent ourselves and them the best we can.”

After the Korean culture and language session, hosted by Takapuna Normal Intermediate School teacher Joyce Cartwright, the team got out of their seats to test their skills at traditional Korean games.

Daniel Hyun, from the Korean Education Centre, taught the group Tuho (a game where players throw arrows into an urn), Jegi (Korean hacky sack) and Omok (a board game like Connect Four).

Asia New Zealand Foundation director of culture Jennifer King says the workshop will help the athletes gain a level of cultural comfort and also help them operate outside "the Olympic bubble".

"The workshop will help team members know what to expect and arrive in Korea with a sense of connection, making them better ambassadors for New Zealand," she says.

The Foundation’s executive director Simon Draper says because sport is an integral part of New Zealand culture, it seems logical to use sport to help New Zealanders engage with other cultures.

“Sport is the lens through which many New Zealanders view the world, so it can be an important asset in helping Kiwis feel comfortable and confident interacting with Asia.”