3:49 pm - 02/08/2018
Last PyeongChang 2018 Updates
92 Countries, 3544 athletes, 15 sports, 215 games, 306 Medals, 23rd Winter Olympic Games 🙊 It all begins today 🎉 92개 국가의 출전, 3544명의 선수의 경쟁, 15개의 종목, 215번의 경기, 306개의 메달, 54번째 올림픽, 23번째 동계올림픽, 17일간의 여정. 이 모든 게 이제 펼쳐집니다. pic.twitter.com/TW9Al9sZyy— PyeongChang 2018 (@pyeongchang2018) February 8, 2018
Wait almost over as PyeongChang set for opening ceremony
The wait is almost over.
PyeongChang, once a bucolic alpine resort town on the eastern part of the country, will host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. With a vision of transforming itself into an Asian winter sports hub, PyeongChang won its Winter Olympics bid on its third try in 2011, beating out Germany's Munich and France's Annecy in an International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote.
The world will turn its eyes to the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium Friday evening, when the temperature could hover around minus-10 degrees Celsius including wind chill in what could be the coldest Winter Games opening ceremony in decades.
PyeongChang 2018, scheduled to run through Feb. 25, will be the first Olympics in South Korea since the 1988 Seoul Summer Games.
With PyeongChang, the main host city, staging snow, skiing and sliding events, the neighboring cities of Gangneung and Jeongseon will host ice and alpine skiing events, respectively.
A dozen venues will stage seven sports across 15 disciplines, with a Winter Games record of 102 gold medals at stake.
PyeongChang 2018 is also the largest Winter Olympics ever in terms of participation -- 2,920 athletes from 92 nations have registered to participate.
South Korea is sending its largest Winter Olympics delegation and will have 144 athletes on hand. The host nation has set out to collect up to eight gold medals and 20 medals overall, hoping those totals will be good enough to place it among the top four.
All 26 Winter Olympic gold medals won by South Korea so far have come from ice events -- short track, speed skating and figure skating. South Korea is once again expected to earn most of its medals from the ice, but it is also eyeing potentially historic performances in skeleton and bobsleigh.
At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, South Korea grabbed three gold, three silver and two bronze medals to rank 13th.
South Korea's best Winter Games performance came at Vancouver 2010, where it won six gold medals and hauled in a record 14 medals total to finish fifth.
There will be even more historic moments during the opening ceremony. For only the fourth time in the Olympic history and the first time at an Olympic Games held in this country, South and North Korea will march into the main stadium as one. The will walk in behind the Korean Unification Flag -- a blue Korean Peninsula against a white background -- and the athletes and officials will don white parkas with the image of the same flag on their chest.
North Korea is participating in an Olympic Games held in South Korea for the first time, and will have its largest Winter Games team with 22 athletes.
In another unprecedented development, the Koreas agreed to form a joint women's hockey team for the Olympics. It's the first unified Korean team at any Olympic Games. The 23 South Koreans and 12 North Koreans will walk in together at the opening ceremony. Head coach Sarah Murray, South Korea's bench boss since 2014, said earlier in the week that it was important for her players to be at the ceremony and show that they're unified.
Korea will play its first game against Switzerland on Saturday.
Some preliminary competitions have already begun. Mixed doubles curling, making its Olympic debut, is into Day 2 on Friday, with freestyle skiing, ski jumping and the figure skating team event also under way.
The first gold medal at PyeongChang 2018 will come from women's cross-country skiing Saturday. The 7.5-kilometer+7.5-kilometer skiathlon will start at 4:15 p.m. at Alpensia Cross-Country Centre in PyeongChang.
The host nation's first medal could also come Saturday in short track speed skating. The final of the men's 1,500 meters is set to begin at 9:28 p.m. at Gangneung Ice Arena, and local fans will be hoping to see one of their own on the podium before the night is over.
Hwang Dae-heon, an 18-year-old sensation, beat out former Olympic veterans at the notoriously difficult national Olympic trials and went on to claim two gold and two silver medals in the 1,500m during the International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup season.
PyeongChang confirms 128 cases of norovirus infection
Organizers of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics said Thursday 128 cases of norovirus infections have been confirmed, with no athlete having been affected following the outbreak in the Olympic host city earlier in the week.
Citing data from the Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention, PyeongChang said 128 cases had been confirmed as of Thursday, with 42 new cases on Thursday alone.
Of the 42 new cases, 34 are members of civil security staff. They have been quarantined and are being monitored in order to prevent any risk of spreading, the Olympic organizers said.
The contagious virus is known to cause stomach pain and diarrhea.
"Surveys on tap water, the food preparation staff and food items are currently being conducted to trace the route of transmission," PyeongChang's organizing committee said in a statement. "To address the shortfall in security workforce due to their isolation, 900 military personnel have been deployed to take over the work of the civil safety personnel. They will work across 20 venues until all affected workforce are able to return to duty."
110,000 condoms for Winter Olympics pushes topic of sex in South Korea
As athletes gear up for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, they'll find some serious protection: condoms, and plenty of them.
South Korean condom manufacturer Convenience Co. is donating 100,000 of its latex rubbers to the athletes' village, while the Korean Association for AIDS Prevention will reportedly furnish another 10,000. It will be the most ever made available at a Winter Games, although the number falls short of the 450,000 distributed during the larger 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
While there's been some movement for South Koreans to start talking about a sexual revolution — in part because of the widespread use of social media — some observers are hoping the attention given to condom use at these games will get the socially conservative country to begin shedding its inhibitions.
"It is a great time to seize this opportunity to start having open discussion," said Hyeouk Chris Hahm, a Boston University professor who has researched sexual attitudes among South Korean adolescents.
In recent decades, nearly half of the nation's youth have reported engaging in sexual encounters in their teens — in some cases eschewing the expectation to be abstinent before marriage, according to a 2016 report in the Journal of Social Service Research, co-authored by Hahm.
"Although adolescents are initiating sex at an earlier age, this review indicated that their sexual knowledge is poor," the report found, "putting them at high risk of unhealthy sexual activities and (sexually transmitted infection) acquisition."
But even in a major city such as Seoul, ads in the subways routinely push plastic surgery and weight loss products, but notably absent are any addressing STD prevention, for instance.
Hahm said there remains a stigma in Korean society about openly talking about safe sex and birth control.
"South Korea has one of the lowest fertility rates, and yet, South Korea has one of the highest abortion rates in the world," she added.
Abortions in South Korea are allowed under extremely strict circumstances, such as rape or if a woman's health is at risk. Women who have an illegal abortion can be punished with up to one year in prison or fines of about $1,820, according to Human Rights Watch.
"It is common for them to abort the pregnancy because of shame of being a young single mother, family rejection and very little societal support system for them," Hahm said.
But some advocates want laws to be loosened in order to protect women. An online petition with more than 230,000 signatures was submitted to the president's office last fall calling for the full legalization of abortions.
Birth control awareness and access, meanwhile, is not as openly discussed as in some Western nations.
A report last month in the health outlet Korea Biomedical Review said the last time a condom ad aired on Korean television was a Durex commercial in 2013. Before then, the only time was for an AIDS campaign in 2004.
"Even then, the ad portrayed condoms almost as an illegal commodity," the report said.
Park Kyung Jin, president of Convenience Co., said ensuring that the Olympics are well-stocked with free condoms is an "honor" and his company hopes "athletes will finish the tournament and return home in good health."
The company added that its Right Idea brand — with the tagline "smart is sexy" — will change the perception of sex in South Korea. The condom maker has also been outspoken about providing sex education for youth.
"Basically in Korea, we don't talk much about sex or sex education," said Jack Jung, a Convenience Co. spokesman. "It's because our work culture is very traditional, and because of religion. We didn’t get any sex education when we were young or we were in high school."
Still, South Korea is actually no stranger to handing out condoms — at least at the Olympics. The 1988 Summer Games in Seoul was the first time condoms were publicly distributed at the international sporting event. At the time, it was part of an effort to reduce the spread of HIV.
In the 30 years since, younger Koreans have grown up exposed to Western culture and are living in more socially liberal ways than previous generations, said Jin-kyung Park, a professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies who has researched women's health in Korea.
Known for its advanced technologies, the country has even seen condom vending machines crop up in recent months. The company Instinctus has set up a handful of machines that sell condoms for the equivalent of just 4 cents and targeting people 19 or younger.
But even though the proceeds go to helping an adolescent health center in Seoul, the company's CEO said he still faces embarrassment.
"My parents ask me if all this is really necessary for teenagers," Seong Min-hyun told the online outlet Korea Exposé last year. "They don't want to tell others what I'm doing."
Star-studded K-pop festival celebrates Olympics
Some of the biggest names in K-pop will commemorate South Korea’s first Winter Games at the K-pop World Festa for the next three Saturdays.
The concert is co-hosted by the Gangwon Provincial Government and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. It will be held on Saturday, Feb. 17 and Feb. 24 at Gangneung Wonju National University Stadium in Gangwon Province from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday’s concert will feature K-pop idols such as BoA, Red Velvet, Seventeen and EXID.
On Feb. 17, some of the hottest names in the country’s R&B and hip-hop scene will take the stage including Kim Bum-soo, Baek Z-young and Wheesung.
The final concert on Feb.24 will feature Super Junior, B1A4, B.A.P., Pentagon, Raboom, Jeong Se-woon, KARD and Krisha Tiu.
Fans will also get a chance to take the stage, as four amateur dance teams among those who submit their dance videos at http://culture2018.com/en/k-pop-world-festa/ will be invited to perform on Feb. 24.
Tickets for the first concert are sold out, but passes for the remaining two concerts are still available at Ticket Link (www.ticketlink.co.kr). One person can reserve up to two tickets. There are no charges for the tickets, but a delivery fee and commission will be charged.
More K-pop concerts across Korea during Olympics
From Friday to Feb. 25, Korea will be home to the fiercest competition in the winter sports world. But while taking it all in, it is recommended to make time to enjoy other aspects of the country, like the nation’s famed K-pop.
Here are some of the K-pop events that will take place around Korea during the Olympic period. For tickets, visit Interpark.
Wooyoung’s 1st solo concert - Feb. 9
A member of K-pop boy band 2PM, Wooyoung has also been building a significant career as a solo artist, which will be put on display at his first concerts this weekend from Friday to Sunday.
The concerts will be held at Blue Square in Yongsan, central Seoul. The concerts start at 8 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Seats cost 110,000 won ($101) each. The event is available to those aged 7 and above. The concert lasts 150 minutes.
Baek Z-young concert - Feb. 10, Feb. 24
One of the most beloved female vocalists in Korea, Baek Z-young will demonstrate her skills in “Welcome Baek” at Olympic Park in Songpa-gu, southeastern Seoul.
There are two concerts on Saturday as part of her countrywide tour across February and March. The first starts at 3 p.m., with the second at 7 p.m.
Tickets range from 77,000 won to 132,000 won, and the event is available to those aged 7 and older. It lasts two hours.
The Feb. 24 concert is to be held at Daejeon Convention Center in Yuseong-gu, Daejeon. The concerts start at the same times as previously, but tickets range from 66,000 won to 132,000 won. It also lasts two hours.
Yoon Jong-shin - Feb. 10
Travel a little north to Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province, and you will stumble across another beloved ballad singer in Yoon Jong-shin.
The concert -- also lasting two hours -- is to be held at Uijeongbu Arts Center in Uijeongbu 2-dong. It is part of Yoon’s national tour in February and March.
The concert starts at 6 p.m. and is for those 7 and up. Tickets range from 88,000 won to 121,000 won.
Day 6 Concert - Feb. 10
“Every Day 6 Concert in Daejeon” is being held at Woosong Art Center inside Woosong University in Dong-gu, Daejeon.
The K-pop band will demonstrate its skill at the two-hour concert, starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Tickets range from 88,000 won to 99,000 won and are available to audience members aged 7 and above.
Choi Soo-young’s fan event - Feb. 10
Choi Soo-young, best known as Sooyoung of Girls’ Generation, is holding a fan meeting to coincide with her birthday. Although she has had many fan meetings as part of the popular K-pop act, this marks her first solo.
The event starts at 5 p.m. and lasts 90 minutes. It is available to those aged 7 and up. Tickets are 35,000 won each.
Lee So-ra concert - Feb. 11
Those well acquainted with Korean music are well aware of Lee So-ra and the significance she holds in the scene. A true diva and rare talent, she is set to perform Sunday at Incheon Culture & Arts Center in Namdong-gu, Incheon.
The concert, lasting 100 minutes, starts at 6 p.m. and tickets range from 99,000 won to 121,000 won. The event is available to those aged 7 and up.
Oh My Girl’s concert - Feb. 12, 19, 26
The “Secret Garden” concerts come as a series of performances by girl group Oh My Girl held every Monday from Jan. 22 to Feb. 26. Named after the EP of the same title, each leg of the concert has a different set list and concept.
The concerts last for 90 minutes, and are available to fans aged 7 or above. They are to be held at Shinsegae Mesa Hall in Myeong-dong, central Seoul.
Tickets cost 44,000 won, with the concerts starting at 8:30 p.m.
Valentine’s Day with indie artists - Feb. 14
A couple of indie performances await lovers celebrating Valentine’s Day.
A joint concert by Love Valentine, Soran and MeloMance will be held at Seongnam Arts Center in Bundang, Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. The concert is two hours long and available to those aged 7 and up.
Tickets cost between 44,000 won and 88,000 won, and the event starts at 8 p.m.
“Today,” held at Blue Square in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, features TheAde and Standing Egg. The concert starts at 8 p.m. and lasts for two hours. It is available to audience members aged 7 or older.
Tickets cost between 66,000 won and 77,000 won.
Standing Egg & Daybreak concert - Feb. 23
Standing Egg stands before fans again with a concert in Hanam Culture & Arts Center, this time sharing the stage with Daybreak.
The concert starts at 8 p.m. and lasts two hours. It is available to those aged 8 and up. Tickets for the performance are priced from 44,000 won to 66,000 won.
Lee Seung-hwan and friends - Feb. 24
The legendary Lee Seung-hwan is bringing his indie artist buddies up on stage with him.
The concert, held at Shinhan Card FAN Square in Mapo-gu, Seoul, will feature Lee and rock bands Theatre8 and iamnot. It starts at 5 p.m. and lasts four hours, with a 40-minute intermission.
The tickets cost 110,000 won for a seat and 66,000 won for the standing section, or as Lee has named it, the “thrashing area.”
There is also a “youngsters’ area,” which is a “thrashing area” at half the normal price, or 33,000 won. This is available to those born between 1990 and 2004. Ticket holders for the youngsters’ area must bring photo IDs.
McDonald’s Korea launches 3 Olympics-inspired items
McDonald’s Korea launched three new menu items Wednesday as one of the official partners of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
The Golden Potato Burger, Golden Potato Tomato Muffin and Golden Potato Bacon Muffin are now available at McDonald’s Korea.
The Golden Potato Burger consists of two beef patties, fried potatoes, white cheddar cheese and pine mushroom sauce, while the other two are breakfast items that each contain tomatoes, bacon and fried potatoes.
All three items include potatoes to reflect a taste “reminiscent of nature in PyeongChang,” said McDonald’s Korea.
The Golden Potato Burger costs 5,900 won a la carte and 7,200 won as part of a set. Both muffins cost 3,100 won each and 3,900 won in a set.
“The newly launched items will be sold until Feb. 25 when the Olympic Games are to end. They will be added to our regular menu if they sell well,” said an official from McDonald’s Korea.
Streaming post for the Opening Ceremony will be posted later! OP will be asleep by then, so have a good time everyone!
sources: Yonhap News 1 & 2, nbcnews, pyeongchang2018 twitter, koreaherald 1 2 3