World-record-setting North Korean weightlifter King Un Guk as a flash-fame case study.
This is Kim Un Guk.
Image by YURI CORTEZ / Getty Images
Kim is a North Korean weightlifter. Earlier today, he competed in the 62-kilogram division (~136 pounds). He's one of my favorite athletes of the Olympics so far, and his performance exemplifies many of things we love come to love about Olympians. Let's use Kim to try and define the elements of an Olympic sensation.
Step 1: Have a simple, catchy story
Part of what draws attention to athletes, aside from their on-court/field/pool/weight-lifting mat performances, is some sort of easily recognizable hook. In this case, Kim hails from North Korea. North Korea's athletes are generally viewed with some combination of admiration and concern, because, Westerners fear, the consequences for their not succeeding at the Games are far more costly than they might be for others. At the same time, the nation is overachieving at the Games so far, with more medals than host Great Britain. So, without knowing anything more about Kim Un Guk than his nationality, we immediately have a point of interest.