Skip to main content

Bronze Statue of Berlin Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist Sohn Kee-Chung Features Korean Flag on Its Chest Instead of Rising Sun

http://japanese.joins.com/article/527/223527.html

translated by Brett Larner
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

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Weekend Overseas Japanese Results

Lost in the luminosity of Eliud Kipchoge's world record and Gladys Cherono's women's course record at the Berlin Marathon were a score of Japanese results there and elsewhere overseas, ranging from the sparkling to the dull. Cherono and 2nd and 3rd placers Ruti Aga and Tirunesh Dibaba all broke Mizuki Noguchi's Berlin Marathon course record of 2:19:12 which has stood since she set that national record mark in 2005.

A kilometer behind Dibaba, Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) followed up her 2:22:44 debut in Osaka in January with a 2:22:23 PB for 5th, making her just the fourth Japanese woman ever to break 2:23 twice in her career. 2:23:46 woman Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) ran 2:25:23 for 7th, beating Tenmaya teammate Rei Ohara whose 2:27:28 put her only 10th but qualified her for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, only the second athlete after 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to qualify for the trials under the two-race average wildcard opt…

Nittai University Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe Fired Over Abuse Scandal

On Sept. 12 Nittai University announced that it will fire ekiden team head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 55, over the current power harassment scandal surrounding him. According to the university's public relations office, interviews by the alumni association with five current and one former team member reported multiple acts of violence by Watanabe including kicking athletes' legs and grabbing them by the chest.

The interviews also reported that Watanabe verbally abused and threatened student athletes and attacked their character. When runners fell off pace during workouts he was reported to have shouted, "Get the hell out of this university!" and, following the runners in a car, "I am going to f*cking run you over and kill you." Injured team members were also reported to have been subject to verbal humiliation by Watanabe, including, "Look at this f*cking cripple," and "You f*cking deserve it." Watanabe admitted the accusations but said tha…

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…