1988 Seoul Summer Olympic
The 24th Summer Olympic Games were held in Seoul in 1988, with a record number of athletes (13,304 from 160 countries) attending the event. The Games adopted “reconciliation and progress” as the basic spirit. The organizing committee set the following objectives: participation of the largest number of athletes, worldwide harmony, best results, safety, and cost-saving.
South Korea became the 16th country (and only the 2nd in Asia) to host the Summer Olympic Games. The competitions were held in 23 formal disciplines and 2 demonstration sports. South Korea ranked 4th overall, winning 12 gold medals, 10 silver medals, and 11 bronze medals.
The 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics were significant in that they were focused on reconciliation between the Western and Eastern Blocs, after the Western Bloc’s boycotting of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics and the Eastern Bloc’s retaliatory boycotting of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. The event in Seoul transcended ideological conflict and racial discrimination pursuant to the Olympic Charter and served as an occasion for publicizing the status of the country’s economic development and traditional culture and the potential of Koreans worldwide.
2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic
Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do Province, was selected as the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics after receiving a majority vote at the 123rd IOC Session held on July 6, 2011. It was South Korea’s third attempt.
The PyeongChang Olympics, which was held from February 9 to 25, 2018, was the largest Winter Games ever, drawing 2,920 participants from 92 countries, including six nations debuting in the Winter Olympics―Nigeria, Eritrea, Malaysia, Singapore, Ecuador, and Kosovo. Three world records and twenty-five new Olympic records were set, thanks to the excellent ice quality. Ticket sales were also considered a success, with some 1,080,000 tickets sold.
PyeongChang was the first Olympics to adopt 5G technology, 360° virtual reality (VR), glassless 3D, and holograms. It also utilized the Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile app. On top of that, a total of 85 robots, including guides, food service, and mannequin robots, were deployed to the venues, demonstrating the country’s innovative prowess. CNN reported that “5G is helping make PyeongChang the most high-tech Olympics ever.”
Above all, the PyeongChang Olympics will be remembered by the world as the “Peace Olympics” that embodied the value and spirit of the Olympics. North Korea sent the largest delegation ever to the Winter Games, including 22 players, 229 cheerleaders, and 27 high-ranking officials. The two Koreas made a joint entrance and competed as one team in the women’s hockey for the first time in Olympic history. Pope Francis said, “The fact that both Koreas compete as one team under the Korean Unification Flag gives hope for a world in which conflicts are peacefully resolved.” Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), also commented, “The Olympic Games of PyeongChang 2018 are the games of new horizons. We have seen how sport can make the world a better place.”
PyeongChang 2018 was also a cultural Olympiad where the Hallyu and traditional culture harmoniously blended. During the Olympics, the country operated a total of 1,800 cultural programs, including K-Pop concerts, traditional performances, and video arts, with some 960,000 people in attendance.
IOC President Thomas Bach praised the PyeongChang Games as “the best Winter Olympics ever,” and Toronto Star even said, “The problem with PyeongChang is that there aren’t any problems.” In the overall medal standing, South Korea ranked 7th with five gold, eight silver, and four bronze medals. The country earned medals not only from ice sports but also from other categories like skeleton, bobsleigh, and curling, diversifying its winter sports portfolio. At the Paralympics, South Korea finished in 16th place, with a gold medal in a sitting cross-country skiing event.
South Korea became a country that has hosted both Summer and Winter Games, 30 years after the 1988 Seoul Olympics. It also joined the club of those who have hosted the world’s four biggest sporting competitions― the 1988 Summer Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup, 2011 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships, and 2018 Winter Olympics.
2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan
Held for 31 days (May 31 to June 30), the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan was the first World Cup to be jointly hosted by two countries. It was also the first World Cup Tournament to be held outside Europe and the Americas. The event produced a series of unexpected results, of which the most unexpected was probably South Korea’s remarkable success in reaching the semi-finals. The event also served as an occasion to reveal another aspect of South Koreans to people all over the world: soccer fans in red T-shirts enthusiastically supporting their national team. Tens of thousands of fans fervently cheering on their team in the dead of night created quite a sight. During the South Korean team’s match against Germany for 4th place, a total of 6.5 million people filled the streets nationwide to cheer on their national team.
Source: Korean Culture and Information Service 'Facts about Korea'