For those of you who didn't know or forgot, South Korea's Olympic and national team athletes are treated like heroes and rewarded like civil servants for perpetuating the national honor: They are exempt from the dreaded military service (justifiable to a degree because they are doing a national service of a sort and their prime military years would also be prime competition years), and if they win gold, silver, or bronze, they receive lifelong (sort of*) financial benefits.
From the Korea Times:
According to Korea Sports Promotion Foundation (KSPF) policy, an Olympic gold medalist can earn 1 million won a month along with 90 pension points, while silver and bronze winners can make 450,000 won (30 points) and 300,000 (20), respectively.And of course, there's a nothing-to-sneeze-at one-time payout for the medalists:
One million won is the maximum one athlete can earn per month, regardless of the number of medals he or she wins. An athlete who reaches 110 pension points will also earn a million per month, regardless of whether that athlete won a medal.
In addition to the pension and the bonuses, the medal winners will take a big wad of cash from the government and IOC member and former Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee.This is big money. Paid over sixty years, that gold is worth 720 million won (and may go up according to inflation). If I had my house taken care of, I could live off 1 million won per month. Not extravagantly, but I'd eat well and enjoy myself. Heck, that's the life of a grad student.
The government promised 40 million won for each gold medal, 20 million won for a silver and 12 million won for a bronze. Lee has said he'll add half of what the government gives (prizes of 20, 10 and six million won).
So had Lee Hosuk passed Sung Sibak in the 1500-meter short track instead of causing them both to crash, he would have gained an additional 12 million won instantly and 150,000 won per month for the next 720 months (that's 60 years for those of you from the L.A. school system) over the 300,000 won per month and 18 million payout he would have gotten from third place.
Rush 'n cash, indeed.