Jang Mi-ran, Saturday's world-record-setting winner of the women's 75 kg+ Olympic weightlifting competition, has drawn a chorus of online praise. Having witnessed her smiling while lifting the heavy barbells, people posted words of praise on her website.
Fans reported that her performance even helped them release stress. Some 60,000 fans visited her site within a 12-hour period, while 400 of 700 encouraging comments were posted on her online fan café, Love Jang Mi-ran (cafe.daum.net/lovejangmiran) after she won gold on Saturday night. Even her brother's name was among the most popular online search terms, according to various internet portals.
The viewing rates demonstrated the intense recent interest in Jang. According to media ratings research firm AGB Nielsen Media Research, the combined ratings of three major broadcasters during Jang's triumph reached 66.7 percent, topping the list. The highest rating before that was 56.6 percent for Park Tae-hwan's 400-m freestyle preliminary on August 9.
Jang's performance also boosted consumer activity. The Yangjae branch of Shinsegae E-Mart said Saturday that on the day sales of ready-made foods, like fried chicken and smoked duck, increased 30-40 percent from a year ago, while sales of beers and sodas rose 25 percent. Other branches saw similar increases in sales.
The Olympics are generally expected to boost consumer activity in the short term. "People take especially great pleasure in sports because the country is in a negative mood both politically and economically,"said Sung Young-shin, professor of psychology at Korea University. "We are seeing the 'context effect,' which argues that consumer sentiment turns positive in a pleasant social context."