Kim Jungeun, who is originally from Soeul, South Korea, is excited to watch the short-track speed skating at the Winter Olympics this year. (Photo by MURRAY CRAWFORD/ADVOCATE STAFF)

WATCH: Korean pride — South Koreans in Red Deer excited for Olympics

Despite calling Canada home, some local Korean hearts belong to their birth country during the Winter Olympics.

Ki Lee, who works at the convenience store at the corner of 55th Street and 45th Avenue, said the South Korean short-track speed skating team has a chance to win some medals.

“South Korea is very strong in the short-track event,” said Lee. “I’m cheering for both Canada and South Korea, but if they face each other my heart is with Korea.”

He has lived in Canada for 12 years and is from Seoul, South Korea’s capital city.

The Winter Olympics take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Pyeongchang is a county in the northwestern part of the country and is about 120 kms from Seoul.

Kim Jungeun, a hostess at Sushi Koon in the Millennium Centre, said she was most excited to watch the short-track speed skating events.

“It’s my favourite winter Olympic sport,” said Jungeun, adding she would be cheering for South Korea in the event.

South Korea won its first ever gold medal in the Winter Olympics in short-track speed skating at the 1992 Olympic Games in Albertville, France. Since then, the South Korean athletes have won 20 more short-track speed skating gold medals at the Olympics and hold most of the world records in the event on both the men and women side.

As the host nation, South Korea received entries into all the events including both the men’s and women’s hockey tournaments. South and North Korea combined their teams for the hockey tournaments to compete against teams with a longer track record of success in the sport.

The Canadian men’s hockey team plays the Korean team on Feb. 18 at 5:10 a.m.

“It’s a big world festival for winter and Canada always has a strong showing,” said Lee, but said he would cheer for South Korea when they face off against the Canadians.

“The hockey is pretty exciting because South and North Korea have made one team.”

Lee is also excited to watch the curling events, as he said the South Korean women’s team is on the rise. They are the seventh ranked women’s curling team in the world. Canada is the top-ranked team in both men’s and women’s curling.

He’s also excited to watch the luge, bobsledding and alpine skiing events. In the winter, Lee skis and plays a little hockey himself.

The Olympics run started on Wednesday and run until Feb. 25.

Canada won 25 medals, 10 of them gold, at the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia.

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