If you're going to lose at the Olympics, it's very important to the South Koreans that you at least lose with grace and character. Unfortunately for two speed skaters in Pyeongchang, thousands of South Koreans don't feel as if they did that, and now there's a petition to get them expelled from the Olympics.
During the women's speed skating pursuit quarterfinals on Monday, a skater on South Korea's team fell behind during the race and was left in the dust by her own teammates. That skater, Noh Seon-yeong, finished almost four full seconds behind her two fellow countrywomen, Kim Bo-Reum and Park Ji Woo, who didn't do much to help her keep pace during the event. (Skaters in the event often use drafting and friendly pushing to help the slower skaters keep up.)
Because it's a team event and all three skaters need to cross the finish line for their time to become official, Kim and Park didn't have much to gain by finishing so far ahead of Noh, competitively speaking. Some South Korean fans believe that Noh's two teammates were out to humiliate her by finishing so far ahead, but the real outrage came as a result of what the pair did after the race.
Following the conclusion of the race, cameras showed Kim and Park walking away from Noh as she broke down in tears of disappointment in the infield. Noh's coach helped console her, but her two teammates left her behind.
Then, while speaking to the media in the aftermath, Kim wasn't exactly kind to Noh.
"It was regretful, since it's the time of the last skater that counts. If our last skater had come in a bit earlier we might have made the semifinals. But it's finished," Kim said after the race, via CBS News. "Park Ji Woo was supposed to go out with speed, and Noh Seon-Yeong would do minimal. But after we got separated, we couldn't really communicate. That was probably the reason."
Now, a petition has been formed by South Korean fans to get Kim and Park kicked out the Olympics for being a bad representation of their country. As of Thursday, that petition has over 550,000 signatures.
"It's clearly a disgrace to our national image that these individuals of bad character are representing this country at the Olympics," the petition says.
As anger over the treatment of Noh skyrocketed this week, the South Korean three-man team skated once again on Wednesday night. When Kim and Park's names were introduced, the hometown fans gave them a slight applause, but Noh received a very loud and warm show of appreciation.