SAU Buzz

The 2018 Winter Games Feature a Futuristic Kickoff

by Kaylee Golden
Posted on Feb 19, 2018

The 2018 Olympics have been highly anticipated since The Republic of Korea’s capital PyeongChang was announced as the host city. With tensions in the Korean peninsula growing over the past decades, the safety and readiness of South Korea has been a huge topic of conversation. However, the country has put nearly $13 billion into make these Olympics games successful, peaceful and unique.

The games opened on Feb. 8, with a few events such as figure skating, moguls and curling. With a 15 hour time difference between Chicago and PyeongChang, these Olympic games are hard to keep track of. The opening ceremony at PyeongChang was centered around peace, unity, and the rich history of The Republic of Korea (South Korea).

From the beginning, there were five young children that were exploring their homeland, their culture and their history through a partially augmented and partially real journey around the facility. There were large parade-like animals, dancers in extravagant costumes and amazing graphics displayed on the ground. There were moments where the floor looked like a sea of lily pads with a beautiful boat traveling across them. And others where the floor and air around the stadium looked like a star map. But all around, the first half of the ceremony was artistic, full of fireworks, and telling of Korean culture and history.

The participating countries were announced in the alphabetical order according to the Korean alphabet and starting with Greece—the location of the original Olympics. The United States, which is pronounced “migug” in Korean, came into the stadium not too long after Greece. The athletes were clad in navy jumpsuits with red and white detailing near the top and accessorized with matching hats and brown, fringed gloves all designed by Ralph Lauren.

The most poignant moment of the team entrances was when the athletes from Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) entered as a combined team under a unified flag depicting the Korean peninsula in a light blue shade on a simple white background. Remarkably, the president of South Korea was in attendance, as was the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un- Kim Yo-jong. A moving moment for all who are even a little familiar with the tensions prevalent on the Korean peninsula.

After the entrance of all countries, there were speeches from Lee Hee-beom, the President and CEO of the PyeongChang Olympics Organizing Committee; Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee; and Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea. Which centered around the strength and resilience of South Korea, the drive for peace and unity throughout the globe, and the hope for a successful and smooth Winter Games.

After the speeches, there was a display of a pre-recorded snowboarding scene with riders carrying flares and wearing LED vests that lit the slopes and ended with all standing in the formation of the Olympic rings. But, most notably, was the use of nearly 1,200 drones to light the scene, flying over the cityscape of PyeongChang. While many believed this light show was augmented reality, technology giant Intel actually programmed the devices to fly and light at the exact moments needed to create the patterns and visuals.

      The lighting of the torch involved a run around the stadium featuring prominent South Korean Olympic athletes from the past. Each ran a small section around the venue before handing off the torch. The last two athletes who brought the torch to the Olympic cauldron were a poignant reminder of the hope for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Two athletes from the combined South and North Korean Olympic women’s hockey team ascended over a 100 stairs together to light the final torch.

      The second half of the ceremony was full of music from Korean celebrities, technological prowess and national pride from the South Koreans with beautiful fireworks punctuating the performance.

      Overall, the opening ceremonies in PyeongChang were unique, moving and beautiful—making for the perfect, powerful start to a much-anticipated 2018 Winter Games.