Soccer star Son Heung-min of the English Premier League's (EPL) Tottenham Hotspur is this year's Korean athlete of the year.
Gallup Korea on Dec. 13 announced the results of a survey conducted from Nov. 5-28 on 1,700 people age 13 or older nationwide, with the overwhelming majority of 72.8% (each voter was allowed to pick up to two people) voting for Son.
The striker topped the list for the fifth consecutive year since 2017, becoming one of Korea's leading sports stars along with former soccer midfielder Park Ji-sung and figure skater Kim Yuna.
No. 2 on the list was Kim Yeon-koung (29.4%), who led the national women's volleyball team to a semifinal berth in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Placing fourth in last year's survey, Kim this year showed leadership as team captain and impressed many Koreans with her stellar play.
Third was archer An San (10.4%), who made history as Korea's first triple gold medalist in her sport in the Tokyo Olympics, followed by Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin (9.1%) of Major League Baseball (MLB) of the U.S., who won the top spot in 2013.
Archer Kim Je-deok (4.1%), the youngest gold medalist in Korean Olympic history, was fifth, followed by outfielder Choo Shin-soo (3.4%), who signed with the SSG Landers of the Korean Baseball Organization this year after playing in the MLB for 16 years; midfielder Lee Kang-in (3.1%) of Mallorca in Spain's Primera Liga; midfielder Park (2.8%), the first Korean to play in the EPL; and women's volleyball star Kim Hee-jin (1.6%).
Tying for 10th at 1.4% were golfer Ko Jin-young, who is No. 2 in the world rankings of the Ladies' Professional Golf Association of the U.S., and soccer forward Hwang Hee-chan of the EPL's Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Since 2007, Gallup Korea has conducted an annual poll to select the brightest stars in categories such as broadcasting, sports, media, movies and pop music.