I quit skiing in South Korea a year ago, frustrated with the mediocre slopes and poor quality snow.
Just before the IOC team arrived in PyeongChang last February, they luckily got the snow they prayed for. If the IOC team had arrived a week earlier, they would have laughed and returned to the plane.
Nobody gets on an airplane to ski man-made snow, but there is one exception: Southeast Asians who have never seen snow before and don't know the difference between good powder and man-made ice slicks. Part of PyeongChang's promotional theme was of spreading winter sports throughout Asia and the only way they can attract foreign skiers is to market to the clueless beginners that live in the tropics.
The lift lines are long and the slopes are severely overcrowded. You have to ask, if serious skiers do not fly here to go skiing, why should anyone else, including Olympic athletes?
Ha, overcrowded with know-nothings!
Once a year the diplomatic community is rounded up for the "Foreigners International Ski Festival". They are fed with booze and sent off skiing for the day. The Korean media capitalize on this weekend for photo ops of foreign skiers to use in brochures and promotional material to portray this place as a vibrant international scene, which of course it is not.
One of the hallmarks of a great mountain town is an apres-ski scene and the surrounding amenities of good restaurants, bars and entertainment. At PyeongChang's two resorts the apres-ski scene involves a K-pop discotheque, karaoke sing-a-longs and poorly rendered versions of overpriced Western cuisine. The architecture and ambience is as if Joseph Stalin designed the resort with a Hello Kitty motif.
So you drive back into the actual town of PyeongChang . . . what is most stunning is the lack of any cosmopolitan feel, or even a sense of style or identity and except for the "Yes! PyeongChang," signs, one could be transported to any other small Korean town and not know the difference. There is a complete absence of any rustic mountain town charm.
Ha, even 'any other small Korean town' lacks rustic mountain charm!
Your only options for accommodation are a few love hotels. Your options for dining are standard Korean fare (including dog soup, always a controversy when Korea hosts a large sporting event), Koreanized Chinese food and a take-out chicken joint. Your options for drinks are three brands of watery lagers, or soju- a cheap liquor that is used to get drunk fast. Entertainment is nil other than basement karaoke rooms hosted by feel-up girls.
Once you wake up with a soju-hangover, a good cup of coffee is impossible to find, along with breakfast. South Korea isn't a breakfast culture and hunting down any restaurant open at seven in the morning is a gruesome task.
Amen, brother. Eat some freakin' pancakes, Korea! and not as a damned snack in the middle of the day with your damn hands! Drunkies!
Like when Grandma has a birthday party for the cat because she's lonely.
With flagging inbound tourists, South Korea now is focusing on "forced tourism", that is, making people visit the country because they have to through sporting events, conventions or conferences; not because visitors are coming on their own initiative.
I think of the estimated 5,000 athletes and coaches and thousands more staffers, spectators, general tourists, journalists and thousands of Korean spectators that would pour into the PyeongChang area if the Games were held here. Many of them would stay and eat at the two nearby resorts. Once those rooms are booked out, the spectators and others would end up in PyeongChang proper at the love hotels. The rest would be roaming the countryside looking for guest-stay rooms at dilapidated farmhouses called "min-baks."
Dilapidated! God, Korea, burn down those dilapidated old farmhouses and put up some rustic ones already!
Much of the hype PyeongChang put forth was that it is a world-class winter sports "mecca".
Oh, ho, quotes, I know what that means!
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Bam, money shot!
Although Korea excels in short-track speed skating, other winter sports are nearly non-existent. Telemark and cross-country skiing is rare, snowshoe trekking is unheard of, and biathlon is only performed by the government-sponsored team since rifle ownership is restricted. The only snowmobiles around are ones used by the ski patrols at the resorts and you can pay a few dollars to let them take you for a joy ride. There is one ski jump in the country, at Muju, the largest ski resort in the country located a few hours south. It stands creaking and unused. Dogsled racing is nonexistent except for one entrepreneur who lashes together a few mutts and charges little kids for rides at festivals.
Oh, well, actually this is a well reasoned argument against Korea hosting the games. Ha!
Korean children go sledding, but at commercialized pay-to-enter hills that are totalitarian in nature. The kids are not free to run around and sled on their own. They obediently line up with plastic sleds at the top of the hill at numbered gates and wait for the whistle of a lifeguard-type fellow before cruising down the slope.
In all seriousness, I have done this, and it is depressing. They could halt the next round, put a gas chamber at the bottom of the hill and blow the whistle, and everyone would go right in just like they're told, because Korea is soooo totalitarian.
Winning the hosting of the Winter Olympics is forced investment in winter sports in which currently Korea has no interest and zero experience. Reluctant to invest in a bobsled track, there will never be a bobsled track in Korea unless the Olympics come to town. If the Olympics were won, Korean engineers would visit the bobsled tracks of other countries "benchmarking" (a popular euphemism in corporate Korea for copying another's ideas) how one goes about building a bobsled track.
Benchmarking, ha! Those damn Koreans wouldn't even try to build bobsled tracks without finding out how other countries do it, even though they have zero experience. God, it's almost like they don't want to fail. That's so totalitarian. Guh!
In the end, South Korea would get facilities to train its winter sports athletes that it would not otherwise build for them.
It was often mentioned in the Korean media that an IOC report indicated that PyeongChang had the support of 96%. The secret to the high number is that PyeongChang residents have nothing to lose and much to gain.
It's not a secret anymore! Yeah, crusading journalist!
The Olympic spirit of South Koreans was most on display during the 2002 Winter Olympics when short-track speed skater Kim Dong-sung was disqualified for a gold medal for blocking (cross-tracking) American skater Apolo Anton Ohno. The South Korean Olympic team threatened to boycott the closing ceremony, boycott Athens in 2004, and sue the chief referee, despite the foul being obvious on film. A wave of anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories swept over Korea. Ohno received thousands of threatening emails and Korean "netizens" crashed the US Olympic Committee server. A year later, when Korea hosted a World Cup skating event, the US team had to withdraw because the hate mail and death threats continued.
Those crafty Koreans, with their spirit and their death threats. Preach on, truth master! Bludgeon us all to death with the ugly truth!
The bid presenters worked on the theme that if the Winter Olympics were held in PyeongChang, it would somehow create better relations between the North and South. There was no explanation of exactly how or why that would happen or why it is pertinent to the rest of the world.
Um, salient point.
Yet through a huge amount of aid, South Korea continues to keep one of the world's worst tyrants in power. North Korean defectors continue to be turned away; South Korea abstained five times on United Nations North Korean human-rights resolution votes and uses the Gaeseong factory in North Korea as a source of cheap labor for South Korean manufacturers under the guise of progression towards peace.
Yeah, that's all true. Damn you South Korea, and your puppet, Kim Jong-Il!
South Korea fantasizes about the ultimate sport events trifecta: Korea could become the sixth country in the world to host all the three major sports events. . . The prestige factor is heavy and in the eyes of Koreans, this will be another indicator that they finally made it to the big leagues.
But North Korea is always a bit jealous of southern success. In 1987, North Korean terrorists planted a bomb on Korean Air flight 858, killing all 115 on board. During the 2002 World Cup, a North Korean gunboat ambushed a South Korea ship. Not a good track record for hosting the Big Three.
Damn, we've gotta keep the Olympics out of South Korea, or the terrorists will win!
Fanciful ambitions can get in the way of tough realities. Just before the announcement of the 2010 bid results, the Korea Times prematurely published an article online stating PyeongChang had won. "PyeongChang works a miracle in Prague" read the headline, and in a manufactured quote: "It's a miracle. This is a miracle of PyeongChang. We defeated the two cities that are famous for their winter sports programs," said Kim Jin-sun, in a fictional, futuristic way.It's funny because it's true. This is a great time to bring it up.
Like the premature and fraudulent Korea Times article, PyeongChang's bid was based on hopefulness and snowflake whitewash and not on hard facts or the self-introspection of what it takes to be a mountain town worthy of world-class recognition.I think you would have to be pretty ignorant of South Korea to disagree with the main idea of this final paragraph. Korea is a kind of 'If you build it, they will come' kind of place. Get real, Korea, or this reporter will make fun of you and hurl accusations at you some more