By Hwang Doo-hyong
WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stayed up late into the night to watch Kim Yu-na's performance that brought South Korea its first Olympic gold medal in women's figure skating, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said Saturday.
"Secretary Clinton told me that she stayed up late into the night Thursday to watch Kim Yu-na's performance on the television and later spoke about it with her daughter Chelsea on the phone," Yu told South Korean correspondents here over a luncheon meeting.
The chief South Korean diplomat flew here Thursday to meet with Clinton over North Korea's nuclear ambitions and other issues of mutual and global concern.
"Suddenly, the North Korean nuclear issue disappeared at the beginning of our meeting with Secretary Clinton," Yu said. "I think Kim Yu-na has greatly improved South Korea's national image."
Yu said that he was very pleased to hear Clinton and other U.S. officials congratulate South Korea on Kim's victory during the meeting.
The South Korean skater outperformed Japan's Mao Asada and Canada's Joannie Rochette with a record 228.56 points for the short and free skate programs at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. Analysts say the record set by Kim will likely stand for some time.
Asada finished second with 205.50 and Rochette third with 202.64.
Clinton described Kim's performance as extraordinary.
"I'm very pleased to welcome the minister from the Republic of Korea, especially the day after that magnificent Olympic gold medal-winning performance," Clinton said in a joint press availability with Yu at the State Department.
"And I think, although it was one young woman who did so magnificently, I believe the whole country is celebrating," she said. "I could see why. She was extraordinary."
The gold medal for Kim, the reigning world champion, brought to six the number of gold medals South Korean athletes have won in Vancouver, putting Korea's overall medal tally in fifth behind the United States, Germany, Canada and Norway. South Korea also has won six silver medals and one bronze.
This year's games mark the first time that South Korea has won an Olympic gold in an event outside short-track speed skating.
Of the six golds South Korea has won in Vancouver, two came from men's short track events, three from long track speed skating and one from women's figure skating.
(3rd LD) S. Korea to send 50,000 tons of rice to N. Korea via WFP
(3rd LD) Xi arrives in Pyongyang for summit with Kim
(LEAD) Xi to visit N. Korea amid trade tensions with U.S.
Moon declares 'renaissance vision' for S. Korea's manufacturing industry
(2nd LD) S. Korea proposes compensating forced labor victims through company funds; Japan rejects it