Ki Bo-bae, Lee Sung-jin and Choi Hyeon-ju hugged and pumped their fists in the air after Ki's final arrow sealed their 210-209 victory in the rain against China, which settled for silver for the third straight Olympics. Japan won the bronze for its first-ever medal in women's archery.
The American team, second in the ranking round Friday, fell 218-213 to the Chinese in the quarterfinals. The U.S. trailed by just a point going into the last round, but China scored five 10s (bulls-eyes) in the final round, while the Americans got only one.
Choi said South Korea prides itself on its Olympic achievements.
"To win gold is our target," she said through a translator.
Fang Yuting of China said she knows South Korea is "a bit stronger" than her team.
"We are determined," she said through a translator, "and we are not afraid of them."
Before the U.S. team shot its last six arrows, first-time Olympian Miranda Leek talked with her more experienced teammates, Jennifer Nichols and Khatuna Lorig, about how much work they put in just to qualify for the games. They made it in the last qualifying opportunity in Utah last month.
This is the fifth Olympics for the 38-year-old Lorig, and she's also represented Georgia and the Unified Team of the former Soviet Union. Nichols has been to two other Olympics.
The U.S. women's team hasn't won a medal since taking the bronze in 1988, when team archery began as an Olympic sport.
"We've been through the pressure cooker," Leek said. "We've been through thick and thin and we've done our fair share of preparation, and so all we needed to do at that point was go out there and do what we've been doing to get us to this point. I think we all shot good shots. It just wasn't enough."