10 South Korean Athletes to Watch at the 2012 London Olympics – Seoulistic

10 South Korean Athletes to Watch at the 2012 London Olympics

The 2012 Summer Olympics is underway in London, and there’s a few South Korean athletes we’d like to highlight to make sure you’re ready to watch the Olympics. Read this post and know who’s who of the South Korean athletes in the 2012 London Summer Olympics!


Park Tae-Hwan (박태환) – Swimming

This South Korean swimmer, with his Korean drama superstar looks and the body of… well… an olympian, is the most anticipated athlete that South Korea will send to the London Olympics this year. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Park Tae-Hwan was the first Korean to ever medal in swimming as he won a gold medal for the 400m freestyle and a silver medal in the 200m freestyle. But more than all his medals and records, people know him more because of his dreamy boy band looks and rock hard abs (ok maybe just teenage Korean girls). He’s got the marketability of Kim Yuna, and he’s already cashed in by being a Samsung pitchman. If he wins big time this time around, we can only hope he’ll be the next Hyori on a soju bottle!


Jang Mi-Ran (장미란) – Weightlifting

If Hercules was a woman and Korean, she’d be Jang Mi-Ran. This burly woman was the first South Korean to ever medal in weightlifting; her record breaking efforts won her gold at the 2008 Olympics and silver at the 2004 Olympics. And at that time she was given the title of “world’s strongest woman.” So that means she could have beat up every single one of you reading this… easy! But that was when she was a young’un, and now she’s 30 (in Korean Age), which is a bit on the older side for any olympic athlete. So she’s competing but unsure if she’s going to get another gold. We’re still pretty sure that she can still beat every one of you up though 😉

Lee Yong-Dae (이용대) – Badminton

Lee Yong-Dae is another olympic teen dream. At the tender age of 23 years old (Korean age), he’s been winning over fangirls (and boys) with his 2008 Olympics Mixed Doubles gold medal and his boyish charm, which has also landed him on a few popular Korean television shows, including “We Got Married” (우리 결혼했어요) with f(x)’s Sulli. But of course, he’s an athlete first, and in the 2012 London Summer Olympics, he and his partner (Jung Jae-Sung) are projected to win the gold medal. Win it, and he probably could pick any kpop queen for his next reality series: “We Got Married And We’re Serious This Time” :D.


Park Chu-Young – Soccer

Southkoreansoccer.com claims that South Korea will put one of its strongest olympic soccer teams on the field ever. Unfortunately, they’re not favored to win any medals in the 2012 London Summer Olympics. But we’re still keeping an eye out on Park Chu-Young, mostly because he’s caused a media storm the last few months. The ROK native sought residence in Monaco to avoid serving military duties, and he kind of ditched out on the media and his own teammates when he disappeared off the face of this earth. Of course we’re going to watch to see if they win, but don’t you want to see the media get all up on his case too? Fun!


Im Dong-Hyun (임동현) – Archery

The South Korean national team has consistently won gold medals in olympic archery events year after year, and the team is considered a juggernaut in the world of archery. One of the standouts is Im Dong-Hyun. He’s already won two gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 4 world championship gold medals, and blah, blah, blah. Here’s the good stuff: the dude is pretty much blind! His 20/100 and 20/200 eyesight makes him basically see a big ol’ blur, but somehow he still manages to hit the center of a target 70meters away. He even has to ask his friends if he hit the target! Doesn’t that sound unfair? He can hit a target without seeing it… 😯 Good thing he’s on this side of the DMZ 😉


Wang Ki-Chun (왕기춘) & Kim Jae-Bum (김재범) – Judo

In a sport where guys throw and trip each other to score points, Wang Ki-Chun and Kim Jae-Bum (no, not that one fangirls) are considered two of the best dude chuckers out there. Wang was the second youngest world champion ever at age 19, and for this year’s London Summer Olympics he’s ranked number 1 in the world for his weight class. Kim Jae-Bum is the current world champion and he is also ranked 1st in his weight class as well. These two people throwing athletes give South Korea a big chance to bring home some hardware in 2012. Watch these guys if you like Chuck Norris.


Jin Jong-Oh (진정오) & Kim Jang-Mi (김장미) – Shooting

Along with archery, shooting is another one of those obscure olympic sports that Korea is good at. Well, this year at least. For the 2012 Summer Olympics, Korea will send Kim Jang-Mi, a young 20 year old who started shooting for international competition as a mere high student. She’s the young hopeful who has the chance the win it all. On the other end of the spectrum is 32 year old Jin Jong-Oh, a veteran Korean Olympian that has won gold and silver medals in the last two summer olympics. What we should watch for what kind of commercials they’ll get if they win. Win gold at the olympics and they might make some really corny commercials on shooting down insurance rates or something.


Joo Se-Hyuk (주세혁) – Table Tennis

Have you ever watched an Olympic table tennis match? These athletes go flying after a tiny ball that they somehow manage to put massive amounts of spin on. This guy is the master of that. He’s considered by many to be the best defensive player in the world as he puts massive amounts of spin on balls to make them follow a racetrack like curve from far away. Although he’s not favored to win the gold, Joo Se-Hyuk definitely has a shot at winning a medal at this year’s olympics. At the least, you know he’s going to curve table tennis balls like crazy, and we all like to watch that, right?

Will you also root for Korea in the Olympics? Who are you looking forward to seeing? Share with us in the comments!

Keith Kim is a Korean-American who has been living in Korea for almost a decade. Being in a unique position as both a Korean and a non-Korean, he's put all his experience and knowledge for surviving in Korea in Survival Korean . Read it to learn how you can survive in Korea. Follow him on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.


  1. Jenny Kim says:

    Hi Keith, Thank you for sharing the 2012 London Olympic

  2. Izzy Teo says:

    어떤 스포츠가 좋아하고 해요? 오림픽에서 한국 받는 금메달을 찍어 주세요..

  3. Liza says:

    Looking forward to see to see Park Tae-Hwan hehe I hope I can’t misss this Olympics ><

  4. Jenn says:

    I thought one or the other of those swimming announcers was going to have a heart attack. That was awesome. Thanks for the writeup — I’ll refer back to it as I watch the Olympics!

  5. Michelle says:

    Do you know what channel we can watch badminton in Korean on directv?

  6. Cari says:

    When I got home from work today SoKo and the U.S. were competing for women’s volleyball… I ended up rooting for S. Korea particularly because they’re supposed to be ranked #15 in the world and they were giving my country’s girls a run for their money. I didn’t really like the announcers either, they started to make it sound like we were going to run away with it… so i’m glad they won one set 😀 I definitely have a different perspective on the Olympics this year since my love of Korea was new during the last Olympics… and this time I was really cheering the Korean women on. my fellow Americans get a bit too cocky so I wish they would’ve won… but at least it wasn’t even close to a shut out\\\\\\1

  7. Joel Seah says:

    No fencing?? By the way, just curious Keith, what’s the talk in Korea regarding Shin A Lam’s controversial match?

  8. Steven says:

    What’s the feeling there on all the controversies circling the Korean teams?

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