SEOUL (AFP) –
A South Korean construction firm said Wednesday it would give Olympic hero Yang Hak-Seon an apartment after he overcame grinding poverty to win the country’s first gold in artistic gymnastics.
Yang, 19, triumphed Monday in the men’s vault final, and told reporters in London he wants to buy a home for his parents with the cash rewards from the state and sport organisations.
His family currently live in a shabby converted greenhouse.
SM Group Woobang, based in the southwestern city of Gwangju, has now offered them a 116 square-metre (1,248 sq feet) apartment in the city worth around 230 million won ($204,000).
It is part of a block under construction and will be ready for occupation at the end of next year.
“After (company) president Woo Oh-Hyun saw where Yang’s family lives, he decided to give one of the apartments as a present,” an official at the firm who declined to be identified told AFP.
Yang said in London he hoped to inspire Korean youngsters to seek to emulate his success. “Korea’s aim is to be in the top 10 in the total medal chart and I’m happy to contribute to that,” he said.
“Gymnastics is not a very popular sport in Korea. But rather than trying to inspire people who are training at the moment, I’d like to inspire people who are a bit younger than me to have a go.”