photo by Horst Milde
A bronze statue of marathoner Sohn Kee-Chung showing him crossing the finish line in first in the 1936 Berlin Olympics marathon has been raised near the Berlin Olympic Stadium. On its chest is not the Rising Sun, Japan's national flag, but the Korean flag.
On Dec. 12, the Korean Cultural Center in Berlin held a ceremony to unveil the statue on Glockenturm Street near the Berlin Olympics marathon course. Sohn's grandson Lee Jung-Soon, director of the Sohn Kee-Chung Memorial Foundation, said, "Being remembered as the Korean Sohn Kee-Chung was my grandfather's greatest wish. I am deeply moved to help realize that wish by placing this statue outside the Berlin Olympic Stadium."
In 2006, the 70th anniversary of Sohn's victory, the Foundation had previously tried to erect two bronze statues, one in the Seoul Olympic Stadium and the other at the Berlin Olympic Stadium. However, due to difficulties in negotiating with German authorities the statue had been kept at the German Embassy since then. The two sides recently reached an agreement to place the statue near the Berlin Olympic Stadium rather than in the Stadium. The statue will be on exhibition until 2026, and if there are no objections from either side its lease will automatically be renewed every five years.
The Korean Cultural Center in Berlin commented, "There is an indoor track facility nearby the statue's location, and many young athletes will pass by it. We believe that they will receive inspiration from Sohn Kee-Chung's sporting spirit."
Sohn Kee-Chung won the 1936 Berlin Olympics marathon in 2:29:19.2. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 90.
photo © 2016 Horst Milde, all rights reserved