HR Strange But True!
April 15, 2010

The old joke—How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice—has a 2010 twist in South Korea. If you want a bigger pension from the government, practice, practice, practice—especially your sit spins and triple Lutz’s!

Yes, several South Korean athletes earned gold, silver, and bronze at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, but they also earned big points (in the system for national pensions), as well as big bonuses, according to the Korea Times.

The article says that the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation (KSPF) has a very complicated policy to award points to athletes toward pensions. When they earn participation points up to a certain point level (110), they are eligible for a full pension. After that, bonus points for winning international medals kick in.

“Once athletes surpass 110 points, they receive one-time bonuses [for international medals], dependant on what color of medal they win,” according to the article. Gold medalist scan earn 90 pension points per month for gold ($1,307 U.S./month); 30 points for silver ($697/month), and 20 points for bronze ($434/month). And these pensions are good for 60 years.

There is even more! In addition to the pension and the bonuses, the medal winners also receive cash from the government and from South Korean International Olympic Committee member, and former Samsung Chairman, Lee Kun-hee, the newspaper reports.

So, for example, Vancouver gold medalists Lee Sang-hwa and Mo Tae-bum, long-track speed skaters, and Lee Jung-su, short–track speed skater, earned enough points for a monthly pension of $871 U.S. per month for their achievements.

Obviously, the queen of bonuses in South Korea is women’s figure skating gold medalist Kim Yu-Na, whose multiple international medals have earned her lots of pension points, as well as mega endorsement—and singing—deals throughout Asia—to earn her a very comfortable future.

Sources: AARP and Korea Times

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