Beautiful appearance, flexible body movements, dazzling acting… . It is a modifier that decorates the glamorous appearance of figure skating star Cha Jun-hwan (22, Korea University). Cha Jun-hwan, who is called an idol on the silver plate, has such an innate star quality that catches up first. However, Cha Jun-hwan, who was behind the stage where the lights were not shining, was not much different from any other ordinary young man in his twenties. Like his peers, he dreams of campus life, and sometimes he is full of aspirations to learn something hard. Of course, I also keep the aspiration to represent Korean figure skating deep in my heart.
I recently met Cha Jun-hwan at the Taereung Ice Rink after successfully completing the International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championships held in Saitama, Japan last month. Cha Jun-hwan, who was in the middle of last-minute training with coach Ji Hyeon-jung (51) for the last tournament (World Team Trophy) of this season, said, “Actually, I thought the world championship would be the last tournament. However, I got the right to participate in the World Team Trophy, so I started practicing again. Even though his body is a little tired, he smiled and said, “I am happy to finish the season on a stage where I can enjoy with my fans.”
Cha Jun-hwan became the first male singles medalist in Korean figure skating history at the World Championships last month. He won the silver medal with 296.03 points, the second most after Shoma Uno (26, Japan) with 301.04 points. Kim Yu-na (33), the 2013 women’s singles winner, was the only Korean athlete who won a medal at the World Championships until the end of the war. However, in the men’s and women’s singles competition, Cha Jun-hwan and Lee Hae-in (17) wrote a new history by recording runner-up side by side. Cha Jun-hwan said, “I had a lot of doubts about myself when I started this season. I was very anxious about whether I would be able to do it, but through this world championship, doubt has changed to confidence.”
In fact, Cha Jun-hwan could not achieve 100% satisfactory results this season. A hip injury and problems with his skate boots got in the way. However, at the world championships he entered fully prepared, he managed to land all three quadruple jumps. Cha Jun-hwan said, “Ahead of the competition, my skate boots collapsed, so I replaced them. He had great difficulties, but he tried to overcome them through training. In particular, focusing on physical training to succeed in the third round jump in the second half of the free skating performance, which has been a mistake throughout this season, has been effective.”
Cha Jun-hwan, who reaffirmed his status, concludes this season with the World Team Trophy, which opens in Tokyo, Japan on the 13th. The World Team Trophy is a team event newly established in 2009, and men’s and women’s singles, pairs, and ice dance competitions from six countries will be held. This is Korea’s first appearance. Cha Jun-hwan, who was in charge of the national team captain, said, “I think there will be less pressure than regular competitions. I heard that there are seats for cheering the athletes. He intends to cheer on his teammates while enjoying the stage to the fullest. I want to show a variety of performances to the fans,” he laughed.
Cha Jun-hwan originally had no dream of becoming a figure skater. He worked as a child actor until the second grade in elementary school, when he first put on skates. When asked what kind of life he would have lived if he had continued on the path of a celebrity, he replied, “Personally, he is not good at singing, so he is only working as an actor. He probably is working hard on a drama or movie,” the answer came back.
Cha Jun-hwan, who chose the path of a ‘flower beauty’ figure skating prospect instead of a celebrity, lived a different life from his peers. He spent more time on the ice than at school. He went through elementary school, middle school, and high school, and suddenly became a 22-year-old college student. Cha Jun-hwan said, “It’s too bad that he has few memories from his school days. When I had to play with my friends, I trained overseas,” he said. “I experienced a lot in it in my own way. Skating was more of a daily routine for me than school,” recalled his childhood. “Unfortunately, the life of a college student was not very different. In 2020, when I was a freshman, Corona 19 broke out. I am the ‘Corona 19 student’. I had a campus life romance in my heart, but as there were more non-face-to-face lectures, even the opportunity to go to school disappeared.”
Even if the form of life is different, Cha Jun-hwan was dreaming, worrying, and yearning like a young man in his 20s. Cha Jun-hwan said, “My MBTI (16 personality type indicators) is ENTJ. It is an imaginative planning style. In fact, I usually think of all sorts of things. If there is turbulence during the flight, I imagine what will happen to this plane and how I will have to escape,” he laughed. Regarding stress, which is a lifelong concern, “I think that stress from skating should be relieved with skating. In the end, that method was the fundamental solution. So I empty my mind and try to skate.”
Since entering the fortress, there are things I want to learn. it’s just a dance I became curious after watching an entertainment program dealing with street dance. Cha Jun-hwan said, “Anyway, isn’t skating similar to dancing? When the time comes, I want to learn street dancing and show it to the fans at the gala show.” 안전놀이터
Now, Cha Jun-hwan’s eyes are on the Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics to be held in 2026. There is no need to be burdened too early, but the expectations of the Korean ice world are higher than ever. Kwak Min-jeong (29), a KBS commentator who has watched Cha Jun-hwan since he was young, said, “(Cha) Jun-hwan had a bit of a hard time because there were a lot of competitions this season. However, the results of silent training with patience came out at the World Championships. Junhwan is a friend who has been steadily improving his skills since he was a junior.”
Technical praise was also added. Commissioner Kwak said, “So far, in the short, I succeeded in one 4-round jump, but in the free, there was a lot of difficulty in the second 4-round jump after the first. However, at the World Championships, he digested it so perfectly,” he explained. He continued, “The problem is the 4-3 turn combination jump, but in practice, I know that this is a success. The key is when to show this in competitions. First of all, since he won a medal at the World Championships, which is evaluated as an event comparable to the Olympics in the ice skating world, you can fully expect the birth of the first medalist in Korean male figure skating at the Olympics three years later.”
There is a story that Korean figure skating history is divided into before and after Yuna Kim. If so, there is a high possibility that the history of male figure skating in Korea will be rewritten through Cha Jun-hwan. I asked Cha Jun-hwan about Yuna Kim’s existence. Cha Jun-hwan said, “He is a great presence to players from all countries, not to mention Korea. It is a legend that paved the way for us.” Cha Jun-hwan, who is 11 years younger than Kim Yu-na, is also evaluated as a gift of hope to promising Korean figure skaters through the World Championships. Cha Jun-hwan said, “I don’t know if I have become that kind of person yet,” but “I want to tell my juniors to ‘believe in yourself’. If you believe in me and skate aggressively, I think you will get better results.”