South Korean Woo Sang-hyeok competes in the finals of the men's high jump in the Tokyo Olympics at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday. (Yonhap)
At Olympic Games, there is a huge difference in third place and fourth place, as a medal is tangible evidence of success in the sporting world.
The tiniest margins of time or distance are powerful enough to decide an athlete's fate.
A total of 10 South Korean athletes or teams have just missed the medal podium at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics as of Tuesday, while the country has a total of 19 medals -- six golds, four silvers and nine bronzes.
Woo Sang-hyeok cleared 2.35 meters in the men's high jump finals Sunday, breaking the 24-year old Korean national record in the discipline. He finished fourth and notched the highest ranking at Olympic tournaments won by any South Korean field and track athletes.
But he had to return home without a glistening piece of gold, silver or bronze despite the history-making performance. He was just 2 centimeters behind the top three athletes and almost cleared 2.39m in his final attempt.
Shooter Han Dae-yoon lost his first Olympic medal in a shoot-off. In the men's 25m rapid fire pistol final, Han and China's Li Yuehong tied at 22 points after sixth round.
The two went into a nail-biting shoot-off and the bronze medal went to Li by just one-point shot.
In the men's 67kg weightlifting, South Korean Han Myeong-mok could have worn the bronze medal around his neck if he lifted 1kg more in the final.
While Han completed a total of 321kg, Mirko Zanni of Italy hoisted 322kg in total to win bronze.
Lee Seon-mi also remained in the fourth place in the women's +87kg weightlifting event, lagging 5kg behind the bronze medalist Sarah Elizabeth Robles of the United States who posted a total of 282kg.
In the men's floor exercise of artistic gymnastics, Ryu Sung-hyun scored 14.233 to rank fourth after bronze medalist Xiao Ruoteng of China who posted 14.766.
A quirk of fate in a bronze-medal decider in some sporting events looked more cruel as the winner takes the grace while the loser gets nothing.
In the 10m air rifle mixed team event, South Korean shooters Kwon Eun-ji and Nam Tae-yun lost to a Russian team in the winner-takes-all bronze medal match and finished fourth overall.
In the all-Korean match for bronze medal in the women's doubles badminton event, Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan lost to their South Korean teammates of Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong.
South Korean judokas Kim Won-jin and Yoon Hyun-ji finished their Olympic quest empty handed as they slipped on the verge of grabbing bronze in men's -60kg and women's -78kg events, respectively.
Two-time Olympic medalist Lee Dae-hoon also ended up in a borderline case in his third Olympics. He lost to Zhao Shuai of China in the bronze medal match of the men's -68kg event.
There will be tears and regrets for those fourth-place athletes, who have put in the same efforts to make it to the Olympics but were frustrated in front of the podium.
But Woo Sang-hyeok, who finished fourth in men's high jump, said he will not stop his challenge here out of frustration, but will strive to become higher and stronger in the next Olympics.
"I've experienced a lot of successes and failures to reach this point," said the 25-year old athlete. "If we put all other thoughts out of mind and do it again, pleasure will be with us."
Meanwhile, the US had 16 fourths and Britain 12, according to an unofficial "fourth place table" released by BBC on Sunday. (Yonhap)