Kim Yu-na Admits She's in Love with Ice Hockey Player

Figure skating star Kim Yu-na, who won gold at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and silver at the recently ended Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, has admitted she is dating ice hockey player Kim Won-jung, who is six years her senior.

Her management agency All That Sports said in a press release on Thursday, "Most of the reports about the dating rumors [by entertainment website Dispatch] are true, and they are in a relationship."

On Thursday morning, the Korean online paparazzi published an article claiming that the two athletes were in love, along with numerous photos showing them together out on dates.

Both are alumni of Korea University -- Won-jung entered the university in 2003 and Yu-na in 2009. They have known each other since Yu-na was a high school student, as the national figure skating and ice hockey teams use the same training rink.

Yu-na took some time off from competitive skating after the Vancouver Olympics to ponder her future. In July 2012 she announced that she would retire after the Sochi Olympics, and was getting back to training in Taeneung when she met Won-jung again as he was selected to play for the Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps while serving his military term.

The national figure skating, short track and ice hockey teams all share the same ice rink in Taeneung, where they train at different times of day.

Yu-na reportedly took much consolation from Won-jung when she had to focus on rehabilitation and treatment due to a foot injury last September. They met about twice a month, including on their birthdays and Christmas Eve. They mostly met when Won-jung was on leave, as he is technically a soldier, and often ate at a Korean barbecue restaurant near their training base. They were able to avoid suspicion that they were a couple by meeting in a larger group with friends and Yu-na's agency staff.

Won-jung joined Anyang Halla Ice Hockey Club after graduating from Korea University. He was instrumental in earning the club its back-to-back Asia League titles in 2010 and 2011. He was also part of the bronze-medal-winning team at the 2011 Winter Asian Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

He led his current team Daemyung Sangmu to the semifinals of the Asia League this season by scoring 25 goals, making him the eighth most prolific scorer in the league for 2013-14. He is also popular among female fans thanks to his formidable skills and dashing good looks. Some Japanese admirers are known to come all the way over from Japan just to cheer on the 180 cm tall player.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 07, 2014 10:04 KST