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North Korean Defector Hits Paralympic Ice for South Korea

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BOREALIS Member Level  Monday, 03/12/18 07:10:57 PM
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North Korean Defector Hits Paralympic Ice for South Korea

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MARCH 12, 2018, 9:15 A.M. E.D.T

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The most talked-about athlete in the Paralympics barely plays, but who cares? The diminutive but hard-nosed reserve forward on South Korea's sled hockey team proudly admits he's just happy to be here.

After all, Choi Kwang Hyouk has come a long way.


He escaped one of the most brutal and isolated places on Earth as a one-legged teenager and traveled weeks through China on crutches before finding freedom in South Korea. He battled through a sense of desolation for years while struggling to adjust to his new capitalist home before finding rejuvenation in a sport he says now means "everything in life."

Now, 17 years after his escape from North Korea and four years since his first practice on ice, the 31-year-old Choi is living a dream with the South Korean national team, which aims to clinch the country's first ever Paralympic medal in the sport in the games held at home.

"The past is the past and I am all about the present," Choi said during multiple conversations with The Associated Press at the Gangneung Hockey Center. "What's important is that I am wearing the colors of South Korea, not the flag of any other country. I feel that I have arrived 100 percent."

...

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/03/12/world/asia/ap-as-paralympics-north-korean-defector.html


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