Jong sent a meaningful text to his 17-year-old daughter earlier in anticipation of her big game, according toNBC.
“Today is the day imugi turns to a dragon,” Jong wrote in the SMS.
“Ha ha ha ha ha, thank you very much,” the first generation Korean-American star athlete replied.
“[Dad] was like, let’s be a dragon today!” Kim told NBC. “I was like, ok, no pressure or anything, but I’ll try my best. Just emerge from the earth. … Something has to be right about it. It turned out pretty well. If I’m a dragon, I’m down.”
An earlier interview of Jong with ESPN sheds light on this intriguing imugi reference.
“She was born in the year of the dragon,” Jong was quoted as saying.
“In Korean myth, a dragon isn’t born a dragon. It starts its life as a big snake. Then it waits 1,000 years, and on a stormy day the snake goes up into the sky and becomes a full-fledged dragon.”
He explained that the Korean word for these baby dragons is imugi and they called Chloe “ipugi,” which is a made-up hybrid word meaning “baby girl dragon.”
“Next year, the ipugi will become a real dragon with her big power, the gold medal. Chloe didn’t wait 1,000 years. She waited four. It’s just a story I tell to try to make her happy. Not more. But if she wins a gold medal, we will be very happy.”
Kim eventually delivered, scoring a pair of 90-plus point runs with the first back-to-back 1080s in Olympic women’s competition.
The “Imugi!” has indeed transformed into a powerful dragon, just as her dad predicted.
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