Korean Olympic skating champ seeks Russian citizenship

Korean Olympic skating champ seeks Russian citizenship

Surprisingly, Koreans are not up in arms as Ahn Hyun-soo trades in Korean citizenship for a Russian passport

ahn hyun-sooAhn Hyun-soo (right) celebrates the Korean team's victory over the U.S. and Canada at the 2007 World Short Track Speed Skating Championship in Milan. Although it would not be an understatement to say that Koreans are perhaps some of the most nationalistic people in the world, they are proving to be surprisingly cool with the idea of losing one of their prized athletes to Russia.  

ahn hyun-sooAhn Hyun-soo could receive his Russian citizenship as early as September.Ahn Hyun-soo, three-time Olympic short-track skating gold medalist is confirmed to be applying for Russian citizenship in order to represent Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Yonhap News reported that Ahn will renounce his Korean citizenship in order to join the Russian Skating Union. 

Ahn has suffered many setbacks in his career and has been ostracized by teammates, according to statements made to the media by his father. Other rumors suggest he has been unhappy with lack of support and poor treatment he's received from the national team.

Ahn missed qualifying for the 2010 national Olympic team due to various injuries and subsequent surgeries, and then had to train alone when his Seongnam City Hall semi-professional team folded due to money issues.

Although he is one of Korea’s most celebrated and decorated athletes, Koreans are not reacting with the nationalistic outrage that one might expect.

Instead, Twitter and blogs abound with tweets of sympathy for the skating champion. 

“Even from the point of view of a [Korean] citizen, I completely understand Ahn Hyun-soo’s position. Way to go, Korean Skating Union,” tweeted Eu-ddeum Kim (euddeum13) sarcastically. 

“I heard the news of Ahn Hyun-soo on the radio. It’s not difficult to imagine all the incidents of factionalism. I completely understand him. Leave while you can,” tweeted Jin Kyung Lee (castellio). 

“I initially was under the impression that I would be able to have a dual citizenship [when I applied for Russian citizenship],” wrote Ahn on his mini-homepage yesterday. “I regret not looking into the matter more deeply.”

“I know that some people will not be happy with me, but I will work harder so that I will not have no regrets about my decision,” he said. 

The Russian Skating Union said Russia could award Ahn citizenship as early as September. 

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