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PyeongChang gears up for cultural Olympiad

2017/08/10 09:02

By Woo Jae-yeon

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- Olympics have always been more than athletic competitions. The global sports event connects peoples, promotes understanding and encourages harmony. It often provides the host a chance to display its power and culture.

South Korea is eager to make its second Olympics a success as a showcase of its soft power and a cultural festival for the world.

The Winter Olympics will run Feb. 9-25 in PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul, and two nearby cities.

"The PyeongChang Winter Olympics should serve as a stepping stone for Korea to consolidate its national image as a soft power country," the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said in a statement.

The 1988 Seoul Summer Games served as a big boost for Korea's economic development and global profile. The nation hopes PyeongChang will repeat the feat.

Tourists take pictures beside the mascots of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics -- Soohorang (L), a white tiger, and Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear -- at Incheon International Airport on July 24, 2017, as the quadrennial sports event is 200 days away. (Yonhap) Tourists take pictures beside the mascots of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics -- Soohorang (L), a white tiger, and Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear -- at Incheon International Airport on July 24, 2017, as the quadrennial sports event is 200 days away. (Yonhap)

Not only has it been building infrastructure and facilities, but the country has also been developing events to show its cultural prowess. It has conducted a variety of programs to promote the Olympics including "PyeongChang Biennale," an international art event held since 2013, and "G-1 Festival" featuring music, arts and performances held in Seoul and host cities in March.

In this regard, the organizing committee has taken a lesson from the 2012 London Olympics which entailed around 500 cultural events for four years.

The organizer has explored cultural content true to its slogan "Passion. Connected," drawing from both its globally popular modern entertainment and its traditional culture and unique aesthetics.

Last month, the government unveiled detailed programs for the Cultural Olympiad anchored on three basic ideas -- practicality, participation and sustainability.

"When we considered preparing the programs, three things came to mind. First, we needed to make the most out of existing things. Second, we hoped more people, especially young people, would participate. And last, we wanted to leave a lasting legacy even after the Olympics," said art director In Jae-jin.

"Korea has a lot of good festivals already. We wanted to use the exciting ones, like the Incheon Pentaport Rock Festival, and instill Olympic spirits into those cultural events," In said.

This image, provided by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, shows the emblem of the 2018 Cultural Olympiad Guide. (Yonhap) This image, provided by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, shows the emblem of the 2018 Cultural Olympiad Guide. (Yonhap)

Among some 150 Cultural Olympiad programs, the "World Culture Collage" slated for October and November will invite foreign diplomats in Korea to introduce their unique culture and artists to Koreans.

A special art residency program will bring in 23 artists from around the world next month who will live in the hosting region and create performance and visual art pieces based on their local experiences. The final output will be made in public in October.

"Successful Olympics are not only about holding various sports competitions without a hitch. Culture should be another important pillar that supports the global event," the organizer said.

A fireworks festival is underway in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, on July 22, 2017, to commemorate the start of the 200-day countdown to the 2018 PyeongChng Winter Olympics. PyeongChang, a mountain resort city in the eastern coastal province, will host the first Winter Games in South Korea from Feb. 9 to 25 next year. (Yonhap) A fireworks festival is underway in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, on July 22, 2017, to commemorate the start of the 200-day countdown to the 2018 PyeongChng Winter Olympics. PyeongChang, a mountain resort city in the eastern coastal province, will host the first Winter Games in South Korea from Feb. 9 to 25 next year. (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr

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