EUISEONG, North Gyeongsang Province -- When Kim Eun-jung, the skip for the women's curling team that won silver at the 2018 Winter Olympics, was told she would be a cauldron lighter for the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics, she couldn't believe it.
Kim thought she wasn't qualified, considering her status, but she was wrong.
"I doubted when I first heard it," Kim said to Yonhap News Agency on Monday. "It was something that Kim Yu-na did (at the Olympics), and I had nothing to show. I was really surprised that the organizers contacted me."
|South Korean curler Kim Eun-jung poses for a photo with flowers at Goun Temple in Euiseong, North Gyeongsang Province, on March 12. (Yonhap)|
Kim lit the Paralympic cauldron with wheelchair curler Seo Soon-seok at the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, on Friday. She said she was told that she could light the cauldron just a couple of days after the Olympic Games that ended Feb. 25.
"It was such a big honor because I was a cauldron lighter, not just one of the torchbearers," she said. "I think since we all did well at the Olympics, that's why I was able to do it as a representative of my team."
Kim was the skip for the Olympic silver-winning women's curling team comprised of Kim Yeong-mi, Kim Kyeong-ae, Kim Seon-yeong and Kim Cho-hi that created a global sensation with its performance. They're now better known as the Garlic Girls, referring to their hometown that's famous for its garlic production.
Kim said the cauldron lighting experience will remain forever in her memory. Before lighting the cauldron, Kim and Seo received the torch from South Korean ice sledge hockey team captain Han Min-soo, who rope climbed a slope with his prosthetic leg. Kim said she almost cried watching Han's delivery.
"I had lots of conversations in the waiting room with torchbearers," she said. "It was so emotional to watch them carrying the torch."
The South Korean wheelchair curling team previously said it wants to repeat the Olympic success of the Garlic Girls, and it has so far been cruising with four wins and one loss as of Monday. Seo, the skip for the wheelchair curling team, said he wants to thank Kim for giving them advice on the ice conditions at the competition venue and other information.
"I really didn't give them much information, but I want to thank them for their kind words," she said. (Yonhap)