Thursday, July 7, 2011

Daily Kor for Thursday, July 7, 2011:
The world to Pyongchang, ...
Pyongchang to the world

I'll have more on this later, but the big news today, of course, is that Pyongchang (aka Pyeongchang) has been awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics. And as you can imagine, the K-blogopshere commentariat has nothing but praise and congratulations for Korea on this accomplishment.

In case you didn't realize, I was being sarcastic.
  1. Pyongchang County awarded hosting rights for 2018 Winter Olympiad in first round of voting (BBC, Reuters, UPI, NYTBloomberg, WaPo, AP via NPR, WSJ videoYonhapJoongang Daily)
  2. Despite EU promises of food aid to North Korea, South Korea's Unification Ministry says it has no such plans for the time being (AP via WaPo)
  3. Defense Ministry investigators find that marine who went on killing rampage on forward deployed Kanghwa-do Island base, leaving four dead, may have had an accomplice (Joongang Daily)
  4. After finding no structural damage, local ward office in eastern Seoul says it plans to life eviction order on TechnoMart high-rise but will use monitoring equipment to pinpoint any further swaying and its cause (Yonhap)
  5. North Korea has scoreless draw with Colombia, 0-0, in inconsequential match of FIFA Women's World Cup, insuring that neither team scored any goals during the tournament (AP via WaPo)
  6. US State Department offers American citizens new recommendations for avoiding terrorism when traveling abroad (AP via WaPo)


  1. I really don't understand all the negativity about the Olympics from the blogging community. Of course I don't understand the appeal of trolling in general which means I don't spend much time on boards.
    I feel like if people objectively look at the plans for the scale of the events and the number of visitors (we're not talking Beijing Summer Games by any stretch), they would see it's pretty viable with the current development of Pyongchang and the fact they have SIX years to finish it up. Just come down and see what Yeosu is doing for the Expo in less time than that and you won't doubt the ability to have it ready.

  2. Yeah, there is a lot of negativity, some of it spot on though. I'm ambivalent about the games. They are exciting and you get a chance to see sports that rarely make network or even cable sports slots (e.g.: snowboard cross, skeleton) However, the Olympics tend to be an economic black hole for the host city despite what the politicians, businesses and local boosters say. Billions are spent on a three week competition and revenues rarely match expenditures. The best that a city can hope for is a collection of facilities that it can use effectively in the future. Which doesn't really happen unless sports are popular in the city/country to begin with (Salt Lake City, Calgary, Albertville, etc) Remember the 2002 World Cup and all those football stadiums in a country that really doesn't like soccer? Wonder what they'll do with the curling rink afterwards?

  3. I thought the comments that Korea didn't have the infrastructure and technical ability to host the Winter games were most illogical given the fact that Korea did a bang up job with the Summer games in 1988. And back then Korea was much less developed and technically advanced.

  4. 코리아, hatahs gotta hate, and in the eyes of many in the kvetchpat community, Korea is the land that can do no right. The worst things they encounter, in their mindset, are representative of Korea as a whole and make it deserving to fail.

    Just like how one commenter at ROK Drop (whose comment has since been removed) was gleefully awaiting the suicides that he was sure would come after Pyongchang lost the bidding, there are a bunch of people waiting with hopeful heart to see it fail, because that will confirm every bad thing they believe about the country.

    But certainly there are plenty of people on the opposite side (and in my heart of hearts, I optimistically believe they are the majority), and I think a lot of people will be offering up their ideas and their service. I hope there is a system in place for their input to be put to good use.

  5. Douglas, I think constructive criticism is extremely important in an event like this, but (per my response above to 코리아) a lot of the negativity is useless knee-jerk bashing. Some of it is almost self-pity, like their pride is hurt that Korea won the games.

    But on to your general point, which I think is valid... I plan to focus on Pyongchang a lot over the next few years, because I am deeply interested in this topic and because I hope organizers will be paying attention to blogs like this one (and Marmot's, etc., that discuss the preparation for the games, etc.). Treating your points as an open-ended question and concern (e.g., how to not make this an economic black hole) is an important part of that process.

    For now, I just want to mention two things. First, as I understand it, many of the facilities that will be used (e.g., for curling) already exist in nearby Kangnŭng and were part of the IOC proposal. I think many of these were prepared for a winter universiad (back in the 1990s?).

    Moreover, the largest expense may be for transportation infrastructure, particularly a railway and expanded highway facilities, as well as hotels. In fact, I think the railway and highway represent the bulk of the expense, but these are investments that have been wanted and needed, and now the plans are finally going through, using the Olympics as a catalyst. I'll have more definitive information on this later.

  6. Edward/Wangkon, that is a point that will be harped on for the next six and a half years, with gripes about 빠리빨리 intermittently thrown in there.

    And if problems like a relative lack of snow, for example, materialize, then people will be all over how this was a foreseeable problem unique to Pyongchang's hosting, and they will forget things like this.

    Korea is the country that can do no right, in the mind of the kvetchpat.

  7. I hope organizers will be paying attention to blogs like this one (and Marmot's, etc., that discuss the preparation for the games, etc.). Treating your points as an open-ended question and concern (e.g., how to not make this an economic black hole) is an important part of that process.

    After all you said about the kvetchpat community, I am VERY surprised that you came to this conclusion. I understand that there are blogs that are constructive in their criticism of Korea. But does Korea really need to heed the rantings of individual bloggers, no matter how well-intentioned, when many are not really qualified to talk about Korea? As far as international events go, I know that Korea does observe and learn from previous events held in other countries, so I'm not too worried about them messing up on this one or not being open to outside help.

  8. "Korea is the country that can do no right, in the mind of the kvetchpat."

    Sure it can. All it has to do is pay $50k USD a year for barely college edumacated and socially awkward men from so-so regional colleges to teach a language they were born with and provide no management supervision or discipline. Then it needs to provide them a steady girl friend that they can leave any time once their contract expires.

    Then you'll hear no complaining.

  9. Also... come hell or high water, you know the Koreans will make sure there will be enough snow. They will get 500k conscripts to ship it from North Korea if they have to.

  10. It's actually not quite correct to say that Winter Games need a lot of snow. What it does need, simply, is for it to be cold enough to keep the runs in racing conditions.
    I've taken my board on runs set up for World Cup events and they are essentially packed into pure ice (and scary as hell to ride). This pack can easily be man-made snow. This type of surface is also what's used on half-pipes and freestyle courses as it gives maximum speed. Problems (like in Vancouver) happen when it is too warm and a consistent surface can't be maintained. So the question isn't on the average seasonal snowfall, but what is the average temp. In Feb. it's -5.5c in the city and I'm assuming colder on the higher elevation slopes, so it should be fine.


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