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S. Korea making overseas pitches for PyeongChang Olympics

2017/08/28 15:18

SEOUL, Aug. 28 (Yonhap) -- Officials at the state-run Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) once discussed the idea of including the message "It's not Pyongyang but PyeongChang" in promotional materials for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, although they later decided against it.

For the South Korean service tasked with the mission of promoting Korean culture overseas and helping to upgrade the country's national image, the message was necessary to help some visitors to the Olympics avoid confusing the host city of PyeongChang with the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

In October 2014, a Kenyan member of the Maasai tribe who planned to attend a United Nations conference in PyeongChang accidentally went to Pyongyang before leaving North Korea and boarding the correct flight to South Korea's Incheon International Airport. The man, Daniel Olomae Ole Sapit, was quoted as saying, "There's a lot of confusion between the two."

   The KOCIS officials had been worried that the similarity of the two names, coupled with the much higher level of the North Korean capital's international recognition, could cause visitors to mistake the South Korean ski town for Pyongyang.

As part of ways to distinguish the South Korean host city from the North Korean capital, PyeongChang has opted to capitalize the "c" in its name.

This April 2017 file photo shows Canadian women posing for a photo with the mascots of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics -- Soohorang (L), a white tiger, and Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear -- during an event at a Toronto hotel to whip up interest for South Korea's first Winter Games that will be held in the host city of PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul. (Yonhap) This April 2017 file photo shows Canadian women posing for a photo with the mascots of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics -- Soohorang (L), a white tiger, and Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear -- during an event at a Toronto hotel to whip up interest for South Korea's first Winter Games that will be held in the host city of PyeongChang, some 180 kilometers east of Seoul. (Yonhap)

With the Olympics just over five months away, the KOCIS officials said they are no longer afraid, as their efforts to publicize the Olympics overseas have paid off, and they are confident South Korea's first Winter Olympics will be a success.

The KOCIS, which serves as the control tower for the country's endeavors to make the Olympics known around the world, is working with the Korean Culture Center, which has been posted in 31 regions worldwide; King Sejong Institutes, which offer foreigners Korean language courses and Korean cultural activities; the Korea Tourism Organization; and the Creative Content Agency's overseas branches.

The Korean Culture Center in New York engaged in publicity work for the PyeongChang Olympics through cultural activities, including a choir performance from the South Korean city of Daegu in June.

In Ottawa, the Korean Culture Center has utilized the mascots of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics -- Soohorang, a white tiger, and Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear -- when it made pitches for the Olympics timed with the Changing of the Guard ceremonies taking place on Parliament Hill.

The Korean Cultural Center in Paris has organized a Korean culture festival to promote the Olympics in the resort city of Honfleur in Normandy Province.

With 32 offices in 20 countries, the Korea Tourism Organization is waging an all-out war to attract foreign tourists to South Korea with the Feb. 9-25 Olympics.

South Korea is also promoting the Olympics to foreigners visiting state-run King Sejong Institutes set up overseas to teach the Korean language. The King Sejong Institute Foundation, the operator of the institutes, has said it is screening a promotional video for the PyeongChang Olympics in Korean cultural classes at 174 institutes in 58 countries around the world.

This May 2017 file photo shows Nigerian people posing for a photo during an event at the Korean Culture Center in Abuja, Nigeria, to experience the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea's alpine town of PyeongChang. (Yonhap) This May 2017 file photo shows Nigerian people posing for a photo during an event at the Korean Culture Center in Abuja, Nigeria, to experience the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea's alpine town of PyeongChang. (Yonhap)

A video, made by the KOCIS and released in July to celebrate the 200-day countdown to the 2018 Winter Olympics, has already garnered more than 8 million views. The video features South Korean magician Yu Ho-jin, who became the first magician from Asia to win the top prize at the International Federation of Magic Societies World Championship of Magic in 2012.

High-profile personalities who have been designated as promotional ambassadors for the international sports event include soprano Jo Su-mi; Taeyang, a member of boy group Big Bang; the girl group Girl's Day; comedian Kim Byung-man; and former English Premier League player Park Ji-sung.

Other outlets that the KOCIS is using for making pitches for the sports event are overseas broadcasters and news organizations.

The U.S. broadcaster NBC, the rights holder for broadcasting the Olympics in the United States, aired video clips on the Olympics through its program "Today Show" in March to April and will feature the sports event in the broadcaster's weekly travel and lifestyle television program in October.

Promotional videos on the Olympics have been aired on other broadcasters, including CNN, Eurosport, Fox Sports, Fuji TV, America TV, and Vietnamese and Chinese ones.

The KOCIS, which has also arranged for the coverage of the Olympics by news organizations from 40 countries, plans to invite an additional 60 journalists from overseas to the Olympics by December.

U.S. actor Jonathan Bennett (R) takes a brief cross-country skiing lesson from U.S. cross-country Olympian Andrew Newell at the Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Center in South Korea's alpine town of PyeongChang, the venue for the 2018 Winter Olympics, in this file photo taken on Feb. 1, 2017. (Yonhap) U.S. actor Jonathan Bennett (R) takes a brief cross-country skiing lesson from U.S. cross-country Olympian Andrew Newell at the Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Center in South Korea's alpine town of PyeongChang, the venue for the 2018 Winter Olympics, in this file photo taken on Feb. 1, 2017. (Yonhap)

Other events implemented by the KOCIS include a tour of the venues involving journalists at foreign news organizations in South Korea and the release of Olympics-related ads through overseas major broadcasters to mark the 100-day countdown to the Olympics.

An official at the KOCIS said festivals and events held following the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics have given the country opportunities to tout itself as a well-off country.

"But through the Olympics this time, we plan to instill the world with a message that the country has grown up well thanks to its help, and it's about time for us to give new dreams and possibilities back to the world," the official said.

namsh@yna.co.kr

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