The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics has just opened today! Woohoo!
As a Korean, I’ve never had a greater expectation of Olympics than I do now. It is especially interesting to look at South Korea’s strategic communications for the Olympics.
It seems like the PyeongChang Olympics has a very clear theme, “peace”, to go along with the Olympic spirit. Although the Korean War technically stopped with a cease-fire in 1953, the War still hasn’t ended. Because of that, South Korea is sometimes considered to be unsafe for residents and visitors. (It is safe! I, personally, never worried about a war.) That perception has been a big hassle for S. Korea in international businesses, currency, and stock market. Now, South Korea is trying to change the way world see it through the Winter Olympics.
So how does South Korea implement this big idea through the Olympics, and is there a bigger goal to be achieved through this event?
Here are a few ways they’re attempting to implement real change on a global stage in my home country.
Joint Team and Parade with North Korea
First of all, the two Koreas have agreed to form a joint team, called “Team Corea”, for Women’s ice hockey and to have a joint parade at the opening and closing ceremonies. Since Korea became divided in 1945, we have tried more than 10 times to from joint teams for several sporting events but it only actually happened twice. While the joint parade has happened several times, including at the Olympics and the Asian Games, the joint team has not been attempted for about 26 years. There is nothing that could demonstrate peace in Korea better than the joint team. Team Corea is the first step of the new Korean government’s strong will for peaceful dialogue with N. Korea.
Olympic Truce Campaign Takes to Social Media
The PyeongChang Olympics Organizing Committee launched a campaign to commemorate the United Nations resolution on the Olympic Truce on Twitter. When users tweet their messages of support for the peaceful Olympics with the hashtags below in six different languages, they will unlock a special hashtag-triggered emoji. Some of the tweets will also be featured in the Opening Ceremony.
PyeongHwa Olympics (The Big Idea!)
The opposition party in South Korea has been unsubstantially criticizing the joint team, saying the PyeongChang Olympics have been taken over by the North becoming the “PyeongYang” Olympics. The South Korean government refuted the perception by enhancing the theme of “PyeongHwa Olympics” (PyeongHwa means peace in Korean). The PyeongChang Olympics are hosted by only S. Korea, not co-hosting with N. Korea. Also, the South Korean National Flag will be the only flag flown at the Main Stadium and other Olympic venues every single day during the Olympics. Now, a lot of Koreans are voluntarily promoting the Peace Olympics to those who are opposed to the joint team.
(Regardless of my opinion on the joint team, it’s so funny to see how Koreans play with “pyeong”!)
The big idea can be found everywhere during the Winter Olympics.
A couple days ago, this dessert served at the PyeongChang Olympics VIP Opening Reception became a hot issue in S. Korea. It has a border on top of a blue chocolate base with a Korean Peninsula shape. Once you pour warm white chocolate on it, the border disappears as the dark chocolate melts. It’s amazing how the Olympic organizers are delivering the big idea in such a creative and detailed way. It also shows that this big idea is not only a strategy but also our hope for peace and unification in Korea.
The new South Korean government took over the former governments’ Olympics to ease the tension and to trigger a settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula. If only we can get a little bit closer to the one united Korea through the Olympics, I would say it is a huge success. Think about all the tensions between South and North Korea for years, even between N. Korea and the U.S. Hopefully, the Olympics can bring peace to the Korean Peninsula and lead two Koreas to a peaceful dialogue.
And then the real communication can begin
For me, as a Korean, I’ll simply say, “Go Team Corea!”