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South Koreans demand U.S. gold

Yoo Choonsik | August 22, 2004 15:33 IST

Angry South Koreans, on a wave of anti-American sentiment, demanded an Olympic scoring error on one of their gymnasts be corrected on Sunday and Yang Tae-yung given the gold medal awarded to Paul Hamm of the United States.

Korean media reported without comment the world gymnastics governing body's admission of scoring mistakes on Yang, who took the bronze medal in the all-round event in Athens on Wednesday. But many ordinary Koreans demanded the gold be given back.

"America must return the gold medal to Korea," one writer, signing off as "jolly pong", said on a local website.

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"Americans, be fair or don't participate in the Olympics."

"It is a nonsense," said Kim Young-joo, a salesman in Seoul.

"It is a calculated mistake by the American judge. We've seen this kind of cases before."

Three judges, one of them American, were suspended after a South Korean protest over the marking. The case is now before the Court of Arbitration for Sport after the governing body admitted the scoring error but refused to change the result.

A similar outburst of sentiment against the United States, which has garrisoned South Korea since the Communist invasion of 1950, followed the controversial disqualification of speed skater Kim Dong-sung at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. That also resulted in an American winning gold.

"People all around the world believe the gold, which even Americans admit is yours, will return to you," said another Internet posting at site "Let's not feel disheartened or get angered but wait to see what will happen."

(Additional reporting by Judy Lee)

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