Two Days Out: Team USA’s Two Athletes With Strong Korean Ties

By Karen Price | Feb. 06, 2018, 2:24 p.m. (ET)


For two members of Team USA, their time in PyeongChang will also allow for some family reunions. Both Thomas Hong, who was born in South Korea, and Chloe Kim, whose parents immigrated from the nation, speak Korean and will be closely watched by fans because of their connection to the country as well as their skills on ice and snow. 

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With two days remaining until the Opening Ceremony, here is more about the two U.S. athletes with strong ties to the country:

Hong, who will compete in short track speedskating, was nearly born in an ice rink in South Korea. His mother was watching his sister ice skate at a rink in Seoul when she went into labor, and the family lived in the country until he was 5 years old and they moved to the U.S. Growing up, they continued to speak Korean in the home and keep a close hold on their culture, and Hong, 20, has spent a great deal of time in his native country over the years. His father and more than a dozen of his relatives still live there.

Kim was born in Long Beach, California, but her parents are Korean immigrants. At 17, she attends high school online and speaks English, Korean and French. She still has a lot of family in Korea, including a grandmother, and expects to have a lot of support when she competes in halfpipe snowboarding. As one of the sport’s biggest stars who could become the youngest snowboarder ever to win an Olympic gold medal, she’ll also have a lot of attention. 

Clare Egan, who’ll be among those attempting to win Team USA’s first medal in biathlon, has also been learning to speak Korean in addition to the five other languages she currently speaks. 

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.