Picture of the Day: Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium Nears Completion

PyeongChang ceremonial venue nears completion

This photo, taken on Sept. 29, 2017, shows PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, the stage for the upcoming opening and closing ceremonies for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, in PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul. PyeongChang’s organizing committee said the 35,000-seat venue will be finished the following day, 22 months after the start of its construction. (Yonhap)

Athletes Worry that 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea Could Be Cancelled

The North Koreans bombed an airliner prior to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the games still occurred so I don’t think a bunch of rhetoric is going to stop the Winter Olympics:

But here we are, talking about miniaturization and intercontinental ballistic missiles, fretting about that inflection point where words turn to bombs, understanding that not only PyeongChang next year but Tokyo in 2020 will live under the constant threat of annihilation from the most irrational of actors.

And it’s amid this dread that Olympians stare at the potential danger, weigh it against four years of grueling training for an unmatched apex and, well, shrug. They comprehend the gravity. They recognize the threat. They’ve just got better things to do than worry about it.

Maddie Bowman is 23 years old. She won Olympic gold in Sochi with a flawless halfpipe skiing run and went viral thanks to her grandma. She balances training for PyeongChang with studying for college, though neither keeps her from remaining historically conscious enough to grasp the threat of North Korea that has existed for decades.

Still, when Bowman attended a February test event at Bokwang Phoenix Park, where the freeskiing and snowboarding halfpipe contests will take place, no sense of impending doom imperiled her.

“When we went to South Korea, I felt safe,” Bowman told Yahoo Sports. “And in Russia, I felt pretty safe. I think as skiers, we obviously don’t see risk as a big thing in our lives. In talking with fellow athletes, it’s like, yeah, maybe the Olympics won’t happen, but it’s hard for us to see that risk. It’s not going to get in the way of my goals. I like to keep up with what’s going on in the world and am concerned with decisions we make as a country, but it’s not affecting my training.”

The chatter among fellow Olympians, Bowman said, centers more on the possibility of the PyeongChang Games being canceled rather than athletes pulling out because of concerns over the region’s stability.  [Yahoo Sports]

You can read more at the link, but unless an actual conflict breaks out I would be very surprised if the Winter Olympics is cancelled.

Picture of the Day: Pyeongchang Mascots Invade Times Square

PyeongChang mascots at Times Square

Suhorang (L) and Bandabi, mascots of 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, pose with American children during an event to promote the event at Times Square in Manhattan, New York, on June 23, 2017. The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) organized the event.  (Yonhap)

North Korean Minister Doubts A Joint North-South Olympic Team Can Be Fielded

I am sure if the ROK government funnels enough cash to Kim Jong-un then the decision to have a joint team can be expedited, that is what this current posturing is all about:

Chang Ung (R), an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member from North Korea, shakes hands with fellow IOC member Wu Ching-Kuo of Chinese Taipei (L) during the opening ceremony of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) World Taekwondo Championships at Taekwondowon’s T1 Arena in Muju, North Jeolla Province, on June 24, 2017. (Yonhap)

A veteran North Korean sports administrator visiting South Korea has expressed his misgivings about forming a joint Korean team for next year’s Winter Olympics south of the border due to the time crunch.

Chang Ung, the North’s lone member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is in South Korea for the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) World Taekwondo Championships, which opened in Muju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul, on Saturday. He traveled with a delegation from the North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), whose demonstration team performed at the WTF event’s opening ceremony.

Chang crossed the tense border just days after South Korea’s new sports minister, Do Jong-hwan, proposed forming a joint women’s hockey team and holding skiing events at North Korea’s Masikyrong resort during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

As an IOC member, Chang has been peppered with questions about Do’s ideas. According to an official with the WTF competition, Chang spoke of his doubts about the South Korean minister’s suggestions.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but according to the article the North Koreans may not have anyone even qualify for the Winter Olympics to have a joint team with.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the Kim regime had previously wanted to host some of the Winter Olympics events at their new ski resort.  I wonder if this is something else that the current ROK government may try to pursue?

Korea Adds North American Born Hockey Players to Its National Team

Just another example of how the Olympics has become a professional sports league which even has its own free agency period:

Canadian-born ice hockey player Brock Radunske, second from right, speaks with his teammates in the national team in this file photo taken March 27, 2013 at the ice rink of the National Training Center in Seoul. / Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-cheol

Since the Canadian-born ice hockey player Brock Radunske joined Anyang Halla to become the first naturalized Korean athlete, five more foreign-born players have migrated to Korea. Matt Dalton, Eric Reagan, Brian Young and Michael Swift are all from Canada and Mike Testwuide is American-born.

The six foreign-born athletes are now playing for Korea’s national team, making the once homogeneous team diverse. Foreign-born athletes account for nearly 25 percent of the 25-member men’s hockey team.

Jim Paek, the national hockey team manager, said diversity has made the men’s ice hockey team stronger.   [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

American Hopes to Represent South Korea at 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

It is pretty clear that the Olympics have turned into a professional sports league considering how it has its own free agency period now for countries to recruit athletes from other countries:

South Korea’s figure skating pair Min Yu-ra (R) and Alexander Gamelin wait for their score in the ice dance free dance program after performing at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, on Feb. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

After a solid performance at an International Skating Union (ISU) competition here, South Korea’s figure skating pair Min Yu-ra and Alexander Gamelin said Friday they really want to compete in front of home crowds at the Winter Olympics next year.

Min and Gamelin, who have been skating together since 2015, finished eighth among 16 ice dance teams at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, some 230 kilometers east of Seoul. The ISU competition, open to non-Europeans, is one of the test events for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

“We received a lot of energy from home crowds even when our names were announced,” Min said. “Since the PyeongChang Olympics is going to be here, we expect lots of support from fans. We’re so excited.”

Min and Gamelin were also eighth last year, but this time they had a better score, improving 6.27 points from 2016 to finish with 144.69 points Friday.

“Last year, we didn’t have enough preparations because we had little time skating together,” Min said. “But this year, we prepared well. We wanted to get a better result than last year, but other teams skated better this time. We’re satisfied with the result today.”

Gamelin is an American citizen, but is seeking naturalization to compete at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next year with Min.

At ISU competitions, as long as one member of a tandem is South Korean, that duo can compete under the South Korean flag. At the Olympics, however, both members of a team must be South Korean citizens to represent the country.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Another Bewildering Slogan Adopted by Korea to Promote 2018 Winter Olympics

Via a reader tip comes the latest slogan disaster from South Korea, this time from the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics:

“It’s you, PyeongChang.”

It makes sense grammatically, but what does it mean?

Many foreigners scratched their heads after reading the sentence featuring in an advertisement in major newspapers on Monday meant to promote the nation’s first winter Olympics in the mountain city of PyeongChang in February 2018.

The Gangwon Province government that created the ad said “It’s you, PyeongChang” was intended to promote that every member of the global village, Koreans and non-Koreans alike, has a role to make the event a success.

Yet few seemed to have found the message from it.

“The phrase doesn’t reach me in anyway,” said Celeste Kriel, a South African living in Seoul. “It can be interpreted in so many ways that it’s hard to grasp the message.”

An American teacher in Seoul said, “It sounds like they are really missing PyongChang… Maybe PyongChang is their long lost lover?”

Several other foreigners told The Korea Times that the message “unclear” and bewildering.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but I wonder how much money they paid for some PR firm to come up with this slogan.  Should have just asked us here at the ROK Drop to come up with slogans.  Does anyone have any slogan suggestions they want to share?

South Korea Recruits Foreigners To Bolster Winter Olympic Team

South Korea is far from being the first country to naturalize foreign born athletes to bolster their Olympic teams:

From left, Eric Regan, Matt Dalton, Anna Frolina and Alexander Starodubets

Naturalized citizens will represent Korea at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.

Two Canadian-born ice hockey players, Matt Dalton and Eric Regan, and two Russian-born biathletes, Alexander Starodubets and Anna Frolina, have acquired Korean citizenship, the Justice Ministry said on Thursday.

The Korean nationality law allows people with special talents in specific areas such as science, culture and sports to be fast-tracked to citizenship.

Dalton, 30, and Regan, 28, who play for Korean ice hockey club Anyang Halla, previously made names for themselves playing in Europe. Their addition to the team means there are now six naturalized players on the national ice hockey squad.

Starodubets and Frolina will be the first naturalized Koreans to represent the country in the biathlon. Starodubets, who was a member of the Russian junior national team, chose to represent Korea because it would give him more opportunities to compete.   [Chosun Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.