A tale of unlikely friendships and camaraderie forged through ice hockey.
Just before the opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the South Korean women’s ice hockey team became the only team to include North Koreans on its roster. The Unified team fought hard on the ice, but their opponents proved too strong, and the team lost each of their matches. Nonetheless, they won the hearts of Koreans from both sides as well as those from countries around the world. In this feel-good tale of women athletes suddenly placed in the international spotlight, New York Times contributor Berkman takes readers behind the scenes of the South Korean team. He shows each player’s immense passion for a sport that was often not considered suitable for young women. He discusses the American and Canadian Koreans, or “imports,” who were brought in to bolster the team prior to the games and the impact they had on the South Koreans. He shares each woman’s hopes, dreams, and determination to play despite the odds and sacrifices each needed to make, including using old equipment and practicing at late hours due to lack of funds and support from sponsors. “Prior to South Korea being named the host of the 2018 Olympics,” writes the author, “a majority of the women’s team felt that [the Korean Ice Hockey Association] never really cared about them to begin with. Even before the Games, they earned just $50 a day.” In addition to exploring the gender discrimination at play, Berkman weaves in bits of history about the two Koreas and their hostilities toward Japan. Ultimately, what shines through is the women’s passion for their sport and the bonds they forged on and off the ice, alliances that cross an array of boundaries.
A well-written, impassioned story of sports, friendship, and determination.