city of South Koera on Friday evening, attracting more than 14,000
athletes and officials from 45 countries and regions across the
South Korean president Park Geun-hye declared the games open in front of a watching IOC chief Thomas Bach.
The 17th Asian Games, which will run through Oct. 4, offer 439 gold medals in 36 sports.
The Incheon Asiad is the third continental event hosted by South Korea, following the Seoul Asiad in 1986 and the Busan Games in 2002.
17th Asian Games open in Incheon, South Korea
Hightlights from Incheon Asian Games opening ceremony
For the Incheon Games, the 897-athlete China Team, its largest ever contingent for any Games overseas, will participate in all 36 sports but kabbadi, featuring 33 Olympic champions.
Liu Peng, chef de mission of the Chinese delegation for the Incheon Asian Games, said that “we’ve been the leaders on both medals and gold medal tables of Asian Games, and we want to keep on winning.”
“The Asian Games are not only a competition but a platform for countries and regions from all over the continent to comunicate, cooperate, exchange opinions and better understanding each other,” said Liu.
“Therefore, we expect more than just titles and medals and No. 1 position in the tally from our athletes, but hope they will show fighting spirit and sportsmanship at the games,” added Liu.
Xiao Tian, the deputy chef de mission of the Chinese team, said,
“We consider the Asian Games an important part of our preparation for the 2016 Rio de Janerio Olympic Games.”
Since the 1982 games in New Delhi, China has topped every Asiad medal table, with its largest harvest of 199 golds from the Guangzhou Asiad four years ago.
For South Korea, the 1,068-member squad for the Incheon Games is its largest-ever Asiad delegation, including 831 athletes who will compete in all 36 sports.
With home turf advantage, the hosts hope to win more than 90 gold medals in Incheon to strengthen their second overall position which they occupied since the 1998 Bangkok Asiad in their seesaw battle against Japan.
Meanwhile, three countries are hoping for their first-ever podium finish at the continent’s quadrennial sports event, namely Bhutan and the Maldives, both at their seventh outing, as well as East Timor, which is in its fourth Asian Games.
The Asian Games was first held in 1951, and China and Japan are the only two nations to have finished first in the medal standings.
In terms of overall gold medals, China leads Japan by 1,191 to 910, while South Korea ranks third at 617. – Xinhua
I dream of South Korea
South Korea is at the Crossroads. She will become a helpless victim if she loses her sense of direction
Last night, I had a troubled sleep, tossing and turning, having one nightmare after another. In my dream I found myself in 2020 on the unified Korean Peninsula. I was overjoyed because the long-cherished dream of unification had come true at last. Soon, however, I found that some radical changes had taken place during the unification process. Among them, South Korea had turned into a communist country due to the large number of pro-North people in the South who naively and paradoxically supported Marxism and socialism, even though they relished the sweet fruits of the capitalist economy.
In the unified Korea, everyone had finally become equal, as many South Koreans had long wanted, not only in class but also in wealth. No one was allowed to be smarter than anyone else, and accordingly, all the universities in Korea bore the name of the prime university, Seoul National University. No one was permitted to be richer than anyone else either. Consequently, everybody was equally mediocre and destitute in Korea. Even better, Korea had become a workers’ paradise, where your job came with a lifetime warranty regardless of your performance and competence.
Nevertheless, I found the communist system had some serious flaws and downsides. As the nation had adopted the food rationing system, the government had turned into Big Brother and controlled people’s lives. Naturally, everybody was under constant surveillance and no one was allowed freedom of speech or of the press. Another problem with the communist regime was that it had a hierarchy instead of classes, and thus there were still quite a few privileged people – the party members and political leaders.
Deeply disturbed, I fell asleep and woke up in 2020 again, but this time in a different timeline. I found the Korean Peninsula was at war. Washington had made the same mistake that it had made just before the Korean War; it had pulled back the US troops from South Korea. In an effort to exercise a restraining influence on China’s expansion policy in Asia, the US had formed alliances with Japan, Australia and India, but not South Korea. Disappointed in South Korea’s policy of leaning heavily on China, the US government had retaliated by withdrawing her troops from South Korea.
As soon as the US troops had left, North Korea launched an attack on South Korea with numerous hidden artillery and biochemical weapons that eventually devastated the whole country. Many South Korean soldiers, who belonged to the Soft Generation and whose morale was low due to pervasive violence in military barracks, were not capable of fighting back.
While trying very hard to wake up from these bad dreams, I tumbled into another nightmare. I woke up in another timeline, in 2020 again.
This time, I found everyone was learning and speaking Chinese, as China impudently claimed that the Korean Peninsula had been part of China in ancient times and still was. Not realising what would happen to us, we Koreans had naively chosen China over Japan and the States as an ally.
Frustrated by the series of nightmares, I fell asleep again, intensely wishing to have a sweet, beautiful dream this time. When I woke up in 2020 again, I finally found South Korea had become a peaceful, advanced country without factional skirmishes or ideological brawls. An affluent society, South Korea served as a role model due to its miraculous economic success and democratisation.
Skilfully maximising her geopolitical situation, South Korea had emerged as a powerful, influential nation that earned respect and admiration from her neighbours.
The 1988 movie Sliding Doors shows two different futures the protagonist could experience depending on whether or not she catches a subway train. Our future, too, will be entirely different depending on whether or not we choose the right path at the right moment. Indeed, South Korea is at the crossroads now and thus should decide which way to go. If she loses her sense of direction, she will be inevitably caught in the crossfire and victimised helplessly.
Last night, I was wide awake in the middle of the night, sweating from bad dreams and worrying about the future of Korea. In my nightmares, Korea had headed in the wrong direction and suffered the consequences.
Waking up in 2014, I am so relieved that we still have a chance to prevent a disastrous future by choosing the right path.
Kim Seong-kon is a professor emeritus of English at Seoul National University and president of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea.
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