Yuna has sent a thank-you letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who complimented her on her gold medal performance at the Vancouver Olympic Games, the U.S. ambassador said on her Internet blog Wednesday.
"It was very humbling to read newspapers reporting that you had complimented my performance," said the 19-year-old in a handwritten letter to Clinton, posted on the blog of U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens.
(url) the blog of U.S. Ambassador to South Korea: http://cafe.daum.net/usembassy/I2bb/68
All my friends in Korea tell me I missed a very special moment by not being in Korea when Yu-Na Kim skated for gold in the Vancouver Olympics. As it happened, I was battling jet lag in a Washington, D.C. hotel room the night of February 25, determined to stay awake long enough to see the women’s figure skating competition. And as I watched Yu-Na skate her very best against an immensely talented field, I was imagining the excitement all of Korea was feeling.
I was in Washington because Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan was scheduled to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the following day, February 26. Yu-Na Kim’s stirring performance set the mood for their meeting. Secretary Clinton began by greeting Foreign Minister Yu with enthusiastic words of congratulations for Yu-Na Kim’s great performance. Secretary Clinton related how she stayed up the previous evening too (I imagine she always has jet lag, with her schedule!) to watch the skaters, and how she telephoned her daughter Chelsea to marvel together at the extraordinarily high level and beautiful performances.
When Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Yu spoke with the press after their meeting, Secretary Clinton again congratulated Yu-Na Kim and Korea on such an impressive win. She said, “I’m very pleased to welcome the minister from the Republic of Korea, especially the day after that magnificent Olympic gold medal-winning performance. And I think, although it was one young woman who did so magnificently, I believe the whole country is celebrating. She was extraordinary.”
And while Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Yu covered many important topics in their working lunch, I noticed that the Korean press reporting afterwards was most focused on Secretary Clinton’s comments about Yu-Na Kim!
Still, it was a surprise when a few days later, Secretary Clinton received a handwritten letter from Yu-Na Kim thanking Secretary Clinton for her warm words. Handwritten letters of appreciation are fast disappearing in the U.S., though they are still considered a sign of good manners. I like the fact that Koreans still write them, and I especially like the fact that Yu-Na Kim’s letter disproves the notion that enormous fame and success at a young age inevitably comes at the cost of lost humility and thoughtfulness. Clearly, in Yu-Na Kim, Korea and the world has a great young role model. Here’s the letter, shared with permission.
(An unofficial English translation of Yu-Na Kim’s letter follows below. Please click here to see the original letter.)
Dear Madam Secretary,
My name is Yu-Na Kim, and I am a South Korean figure skater. As you could imagine, although the 2010 Winter Olympic Games have come to an end, I am still overwhelmed with joy. It was an unforgettable experience that will remain cherished in my memory.
I owe my achievement in Vancouver to the passionate dedication of my coaching staff and the wholehearted devotion of my family. The affectionate support of my beloved fans has also been a source of tremendous energy.
It was very humbling to read newspapers reporting that you had complimented my performance. It was all the more touching as I have always held deep admiration for the inspiring woman that you are and the momentous work that you do.
As I strive to do better on the ice, it is highly motivating to know that more people are enjoying my performance and that your thoughts are with me, Madam Secretary. I will push myself harder.
Thank you so much for your thoughts and gracious words. May God bless you and your family with good health and success.
South Korean figure skater
And yes, Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Yu did talk about a lot of other important issues too!
And finally, a photo from earlier this year, when American all-time great skater Michelle Kwan (now a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy) visited Korea and conducted a master class with Korean Special Olympics figure skaters at Gwanghwamun Plaza. Michelle and Yu-Na are both natural diplomats who represent their countries well – as well as champion skaters!