My Korean news feed was aflame with Olympic-related headlines, some breathless, others full of bravado, some merely hopeful. Here are three:
- Foreign reports hail Pyeongchang win as ‘crushing victory’
- Olympic win to upgrade national image
- Pyeongchang Winter Olympics ‘to generate W64 trillion’
Reading the three articles critically, one learns that South Korea is still desperate to have a global brand identity. Never mind that it already has one!
“In Europeans’ minds, Korea could be simply perceived as a country with a strong high-tech and information technology industry,” he said. “Coupled with the K-pop popularity in some countries there, Korea’s media exposure as a nation hosting the global winter sports event will help give Europeans a positive perception.”
Then again, any time your event risks being confused with the capital city of the world’s most corrupt regime, you need to step up the PR efforts:
A couple of U.S. reports, including USA Today, said that there were some cases where Pyeongchang was mistaken for the North Korean capital of Pyongyang in previous coverage, introducing the region as the candidate city for the Olympics.
To avoid confusion, MSNBC posted a new headline “Pyeongchang (no, not Pyongyang) wins 2018 Olympics” for the AP article on its website to distinguish between the two.
If I’m a marketer for Pyeongchang Olympic committee, I’d change the spelling immediately to something like “Pyeong-Chang,” to get that big C front and center to Western readers.
Of course, with any discussion of a major sporting event, someone always talks about how much money it will bring to the local economy. I can’t believe the Chosun Ilbo reported its W64 trillion figure with a straight face (according to a Google search that’s $60.16 billion). Of course, it’s easy to keep a straight face when you bury your lead:
In the 1998 Nagano Games, for instance, the organizing committee made US$28 million in profits, but the Japanese government ended up with $11 billion in debts.
I’m proud of Korea for landing this event and would love to attend. I’m happy for the people of Pyeong-Chang, too. But let’s get real. The only billions newspapers should be talking about are public debts.