Hi, guys. I'm a Korean-American, and I'm about to watch the Yu-Na Kim interview that aired on Korean TV last night, and I thought I'd provide at least a partial translation of what Yu-Na said in case some members would be interested. My Korean level is conversational and not fluent (I grew up in California), so my translation may be a little rough, so I apologize in advance. Also, the interview wasn't live but conducted on April 7th.
Okay, here we go!:
The three MCs--the main one is a Korean sumo wrestler turned comedian--are acting cute and nervous about such an important guest arriving. By the way, this isn't exactly a CNN-type show; it's meant to be funny while also asking pointed questions about the guest's life.
Now they're showing photo stills of Yu-Na skating while showing comments from various people. They're playing Sandra Bezic's quote about Yu-Na's skating having such "strength and sensuality." (Bezic kind of has a grating voice, don't you think?)
Okay, Yu-Na's here now. She's looking cute as always, dressed in a loose white top with black stripes and a black skirt. The MCs seem delirious, and Yu-Na laughs. She looks like she's gained a bit of weight--her face is slightly rounder--and it actually suits her very well, imo.
An MC, dressed in a ruffled shirt, is describing Yu-Na's achievements, and he says her financial worth is 5,200,000,000,000 won (roughly $4 billion). I'm not sure what they mean here; they probably aren't referring to her actual earnings but her positive influence on the companies she's sponsored by. Again, I'm not sure. The MC says, "But at the Torino World Championships..." and the sumo wrestler MC stops him mid-sentence by putting his hand over the guy's mouth. Yu-Na just laughs and claps her hands. By the way, the concept of this show is that the MCs are a bit rude--albeit in a funny way--and don't t give guests the kid-glove treatment.
The MCs ask Yu-Na, "Which of us is the closest to your ideal guy?" Yu-Na chooses the MC in the ruffled shirt, and he seems very surprised. He asks, "Why me?" and Yu-Na retorts, "Do you want me to take it back?" and laughs. She tells him she saw him impersonate a monkey on a different show and asks him to do it for her. He does, and I personally find it more frightening than funny, but everyone laughs.
Now they're starting to get settled down, and the sumo MC asks Yu-Na what brought her to the show--the concept of the program is that the guest comes in with a dilemma or a problem that the MCs help to solve. Yu-Na's "problem" is, "I have so many things I want to eat; what should I do?" She explains that being a skater, she needs to control her weight. When asked what food she likes the most, she says that she likes greasy food or flour-based food like bread. She adds, almost to herself, "Oh, I want to eat some pizza." She says not being able to eat those foods makes her want to eat them all the more. As for her daily diet, she eats a traditional Korean breakfast (I'm thinking she probably means rice and Korean stew), then salad or fruit for lunch, and her lightest meal is dinner, when she eats cereal and more fruit. Man, that's got to suck if you're having cereal for an actual dinner! She says that if she doesn't stick to that diet, she gains weight. So she's "nightly sad" (she says that with a smile, at least). When she's feeling really hungry, she sometimes looks at pictures of food on the internet(!). She admits food is on her mind much of the time.
Having gone over her dilemma, the ruffled-shirt guy is now officially introducing Yu-Na. He mentions she was born on 9/5/90 (this makes her 21 in Korean age), and she started skating at seven after visiting her older sister's rink. She mastered the five standard types of triples by the age of 12. In 2006, she beat Mao Asada to become the World Junior Champion. They're going over her main competitive results now, which we all know, I think. They do mention that she's broken the Point Total record for the short program 5 times, the long program 3 times, and the combined total 3 times (wow). And since her junior debut, she's never finished out of the medals in an international competition (wow again). They call her the "greatest skater in history."
The sumo wrestler MC now brings up the fact that some Korean netizens have written that they shouldn't ask Yu-Na ask any questions about Mao Asada for fear of causing misunderstandings or controversies. He asks her, "Should we not ask you about her?" Yu-Na answers that she's competed with Mao all her career and "It will be less fun if we don't talk about that." She also says that she’s never really had the chance to talk about Mao in depth before.
They’re talking about the Olympics now, with the sumo MC saying how nervous he was for Yu-Na every time she went up for a jump. He asks her what she thinks about when she spins in the air. Yu-Na laughs and says that she doesn’t have any thoughts at that time. She says that she sometimes feels things like “Oh, I’m crooked; I’m going to fall,” but nothing beyond that. When she lands, she sometimes thinks, “Ah-ssah!” (Korean version of “Oh, yeah!”). They ask her about her spins, and she says that she has to count her spins to make sure she fulfills the requirements. And she says that she feels the happiest when she goes into her final grab-foot spin, even though it’s hard to get in that position, since it’s the last move of the program. The third MC—the guy in a blue tracksuit—asks if she’s ever kind of blanked out and forgotten how many times she’s spun. Yu-Na says that’s never happened to her, saying, “If that happens, you’re really not a skater.” They ask her about going into her very first jump, and she says that’s when she does have thoughts on her mind, like telling herself, “I can do it, I can do it.” She says that when her first jump goes well, that “flow” can stay throughout the program. That’s why the first jump is the scariest one. She says that if the first jump goes wrong, she feels like she wants to give up and leave, and those 4 minutes feel so very long. She says that before a program, her mind kind of goes blank, and when she skates, she lets her body “do what it does,” and she realizes that it’s all based on practice what comes out.
The MCs ask Yu-Na now about how she started skating. She says that a new rink was built near her home, so she and her family went to visit it when she was seven. She started skating, but at the time, she didn’t even know there was such a thing as figure skaters. Then a coach saw that she had potential. The ruffled shirt MC jokes that it was a good thing that an ice rink was built near her home instead of a playground or a horse racetrack, ha ha. Yu-Na says that she learned things faster than her peers, and by 5th or 6th grade, she could land all the triples (not counting the axel, I’m sure she means). She specifies that she could land four of them in 5th grade and then learned the fifth of them (maybe the lutz?) in 6th grade. The sumo MC marvels that one can go up in the air and spin three times, and Yu-Na agrees with him. “I do it because I can do it, but I don’t understand myself how it’s possible. I surprise myself.” The MC asks her about what it’s like to do a spiral, and she says that it hurts her back and her hand. They inspect the calluses on her hand, which she says develops from grabbing the skate blade and also tying her skate laces so many times.
They now ask her about her training routine when she was a child. She says that her days had to be long with both skating and school. And since the rink hours were designed for non-serious skaters, the skaters in training had to skate either 6-10 am or 8 pm to midnight. And with all the speedskaters and hockey players all having to share rinks (in Korea), she had to move around from rink to rink. She says that it was different when she went abroad, as the rink hours were geared for the serious skaters. Also, foreign rinks were a lot warmer than the Korean ones, where she felt like her face was “frozen” a lot of times even after bundling up. The MCs ask her where the best rink is in Korea, and she says that it’s the one in Jamsil near an indoor amusement park because it’s the warmest one. However, she says that one time in 2008, she went there to practice, and people were watching her from three floors up and taking pictures and saying things like “Yu-Na, do a jump!” She says that it was hard to really practice and one day, she felt so angry that she ended up in tears (I’ve actually been to the place, and it’s a rink in a huge multi-floor shopping center with people all over the place).
They now talk about the beginning of her competitive career. At her first international competition in Slovenia, she says that she felt no pressure at all, and since she’d be going without her mother, she actually felt like, “Wow, I get to be free!” They ask about her mother, and Yu-Na says that both she and her mother are very stubborn, so they had many clashes, especially when she was in middle school. She says at that time, they practically fought every single day. The MC asks her what she disliked hearing from her mother the most, and Yu-Na says something that I don’t quite understand, but I think it means something like, “You didn’t really put in a valid effort.” Yu-Na says that she herself wanted to win and do well, and she felt she was trying her best, so she really didn’t like hearing that. When the MC asks her what thought ran through her mind at the time, she smiles and says, “If you (Yu-Na’s mom) have to do this yourself, do you think you’ll be able to do it well? Give it a try!” Everyone laughs. Yu-Na says that one day, they had another fight, and her mother ordered her to skate 100 laps around the rink, thinking that Yu-Na would apologize and not actually do it. But Yu-Na just skated the hundred laps without saying anything. She admits that she is “very stubborn.” The MC asks her if she was counting all the laps as she was skating, and she says that her mother was there writing down all the laps. The ruffled-shirt MC marvels and says that her mom probably COULD be a great skater and land quadruples instead of triples. Yu-Na says that when she was younger, she resented her mother for being so tough on her, but now she feels her “greatest source of strength” was her mother.
They’re discussing the financial burdens of being a skater now. Yu-Na says that her parents tried to keep that from her, but in middle school, she realized that her family was having financial problems paying for Yu-Na’s training, and there was talk of maybe having to stop skating. Yu-Na says that she still feels sorry to her older sister, who had to give up her dream of studying music in college as a result of the money problems and couldn’t receive as much attention from their mother. The MCs ask her if she’s given any special present to her sister, and Yu-Na says that when she was in Italy, her sister told her on the phone to bring back a [designer] bag.
The MCs ask her what the biggest skating competitions are, and Yu-Na says, “Of course, the Olympics, then the World Chps, then the Grand Prix.” The sumo MC asks her when she first heard of Mao Asada, and Yu-Na says that even before she made her debut, she knew there was this skater from Japan, and she had watched many video clips of Mao already. She knew that Mao was going to be a skater of the future, but she didn’t know that they were going to be such competitive rivals. She says that as they began their careers, she felt nervous about matching up to Mao and wonders if maybe Mao had similar thoughts about her. In the 2005-2006 season, Yu-Na says that she started having problems with her skating boots that almost made her want to stop skating. But just when she was getting thoughts of quitting, the boot problem seemed to get better almost overnight, so she stopped considering quitting since then.
They’re playing a clip from her Roxanne program, and I must say, it’s kind of funny to be hearing Peggy Fleming and Dick Button’s voices on a Korean TV program. The sumo MC starts talking about Yu-Na joining forces with Brian Orser in 2006. He quotes Brian as saying that when he first saw Yu-Na, she seemed like an “angry skating machine.” Yu-Na says that apparently her face looks a bit angry naturally when she’s not smiling. The sumo MC asks her to look at him with no expression and then agrees with her statement, ha ha. Yu-Na now says that choreographer David Wilson helped her come out of her shell and express herself in her programs.
Now we’re on to the Olympics. The sumo MC asks if she felt the pressure from all the Korean people’s expectations, and Yu-Na answers “Not as much as I expected.” She says that in the ladies’ skating event, the favorites often didn’t win, so she felt that the destined skater was going to win the gold medal no matter what, and she prepared herself to accept things if she ended up not being that skater. She also says that she suffered a leg problem a month before the Olympics. So she couldn’t skate for about two weeks; however, she says that she still had faith in herself, since she had some kind of physical trouble in pretty much every competition she competed in. Fortunately, she recovered very quickly, and it made her think that maybe she was going to do well in the event.
The sumo MC now asks her about how Mao’s flawless short program affected her and if she watched. Yu-Na says that she watched it, adding, “I don’t want to watch, but I can’t not watch.” She also says that with the crowd’s response, it’s easy to get a feel of how someone’s program went. So she says it’s better to watch. She says that she was a little nervous before about how Mao’s performance might affect her own, but then her practices were going very well, so she stopped being nervous about it. The sumo MC brings up Yu-Na’s enigmatic smile (maybe even a smirk?) after Mao’s performance. Yu-Na explains that sometimes coaches act and cheer very emotionally after their skaters’ programs to influence the following skaters and make them nervous. And that day, Mao’s coach Tatiana Tarasova did just that. Yu-Na wasn’t surprised by it, but it seemed to her that Tatiana went on doing it for quite a while, which she found quite funny. So she and Brian exchanged smiles, which was what that expression was all about.
As for the day of the long program, Yu-Na says that the morning felt like any other morning, and she felt very comfortable. And likewise, she says that she felt very comfortable during her program. In fact, she brings up something she said to her mother after the short program: “Oh, the Olympics aren’t that big of a deal!” All the MCs crack up. Yu-Na apologizes for sounding “arrogant,” but that’s what she felt at that moment. She says that while she was skating, she never had thoughts of “Oh, this is the Olympics; I have to win the gold medal,” but instead thought of it like any other competition (oh, if only Michelle could’ve done the same thing… sorry). The sumo MC suggests that it was that very mindset that allowed her to win the gold, and Yu-Na agrees, saying, “I think I conquered that psychological battle.” The MC asks what Brian’s last words to her were before the program. Yu-Na says that he said what he always says: “You’re ready, and you know what you have to do. We’re ready.”
They now ask her why she cried after her long program. Yu-Na says that she didn’t expect to cry at all; in fact, when she saw skaters cry after programs before, she couldn’t really understand it. She says that perhaps that little bit of doubt and fear she had came out of her at that moment. She says that after she received the gold medal, Brian asked to see it and then delivered it a little kiss, and she could sense how emotional he felt about it, and she felt apologetic because he had won the silver before and it was almost like she was keeping the gold for herself. She says that night, her team and her family gathered to celebrate, and it was a very warm and emotional time. Brian and David Wilson told her and her mother, “Thank you for having trust in us.” Yu-Na’s starting to cry now. She says that she cried then, too. She felt so grateful to everyone there for making her dream possible.
Yu-Na now shows the MCs the gold medal. I still think it looks like an oversized, glazed potato chip. The blue tracksuit MC smells it and acts like he’s about to bite it. And with that, tonight’s portion of the interview is over, with part II to follow next week. Okay, I hope you guys enjoy reading all this! I’ll try to do the same next week if you’d like.