South Korea Will Reportedly Lose Over $10 Billion Hosting the Winter Olympics

Unsurprisingly South Korea is hosting the Winter Olympics at an enormous financial cost to the country:

Leave it to Andrew Zimbalist to throw cold water on an even colder Winter Olympics. The Smith College economics professor and long-time Olympics skeptic hopped on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to spill the beans on the pitfalls of the PyeongChang Games.

The most stunning nuggets? That South Korea is staring down a loss north of $10 billion for hosting this year’s international festivities.

“At the end of the day, they spent $13 billion. They’ll get back about $2.5 billion,” Zimbalist said. “The only way you can justify that kind of a terrible balance is if, in the long run, it’s going to promote tourism, promote trade and promote foreign investment.

“There’s no evidence from other Olympics that that might happen.”

That astronomical bill stems, in part, from building scantly used Olympic venues — and not just the $109 million ceremonial stadium in PyeongChang. The organizers also spent untold sums to clear 58,000 trees from a sacred forest on Mount Gariwang, where the Alpine skiing course was subsequently constructed.

Beyond that, South Korea spent billions on infrastructure to connect PyeongChang to the South Korean capital of Seoul. Even with the addition of high-speed rail, the commute still clocks in close to two hours.

Some of these costs might be justifiable if the host country’s citizens were enthusiastic about snow and ice activities. But to hear Zimbalist tell it, “The South Koreans are not very fond of winter sports in general.”  [Yahoo Sports]

You can read more at the link, but the article goes on to explain how only 60% of the tickets for the events have been sold showing how little interests locals have in the games.  What is even sadder about this economic loss is that the biggest winner of the Winter Olympics has so far been North Korea with their propaganda coup all at the ROK government’s expense.



I am a US military veteran that has served all over the world to include in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. I have been blogging about Korea, Northeast Asia, and the US military for over 10 years.


  1. First reported by yours truly. Although I have yet to dig back in the ROKDrop archive to find the post I ranted on this subject about.

  2. Way back on February 5th in a post about nKers not getting any freebies for attending the Olympics, I estimated that the bill for the propaganda troop alone would be close to 1 billion won. I wasn’t far off it seems about the total loss by South Korea for the Pyeongchang “Charity to nK” Olympics.

  3. I bet half of that was part of a NORK charity fund. Have you seen the facilities they built for the Olympics? Prefab garbage.

  4. That probably doesn’t include the bags of cash sent north….for the KJU benevolent fund.

  5. Every city that hosts the Olympics loses money. It’s built in. As far as I can tell, it’s all about virtue-signalling. The actual atletes who compete in actual athletics are merely a sideshow act.

  6. A big part of that is infrastructure connecting the region to zseoul, which will provide an economic boost over the long run.

  7. Kushibo, we hope you are right; but tell us again how the Olympics have benefitted other host cities.

  8. @Kushibo, first of all good to see you back. As far as the infrastructure I look at it as a nice to have. Does anyone really expect the Pyeongchang and Gangneung area to become some kind of tourism or economic engine after the Olympics worthy of the investment?

    With that said at least the Koreans did not spend nearly as much money as other cities to host the Olympics.

  9. Yeah, that’s why the Olympic tents are blowing away and Olympic Park closed down due to high winds.

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