Better luck next time seen for PyeongchangThrough all the discussion and controversy about the selection of a host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang should be credited for achieving unexpected results, said William Rylance, the chief executive officer of Burson-Marsteller Asia/Pacific.
The city narrowly lost to Vancouver, Canada, in the second round of voting by the International Olympic Committee earlier this month.
Mr. Rylance pointed out that while Pyeongchang, in Gangwon province, had been an unknown city, it won over Salzburg, Austria, in the first round of voting. “Pyeongchang will win the election some day in the future, as Beijing won the election its second time,” he said.
Mr. Rylance is considered the most knowledgeable person about Asia and Korea in his corporation. He is also an expert in international sports events.
His relationship with Korea began in 1986, when he was assigned to publicize the 1986 Asian Games and 1988 Olympics. At that time he knew nothing about Korea, he said, so he went to the library to study about the country. But he recalls that not many documents about Korea were available back then.
Even though he studied, it was not an easy job to produce a successful Olympics in a divided country, Mr. Rylance said. Because of the Cold War, socialist and communist countries were refusing to attend the games and the democratic and capitalist countries hesitated because of security concerns. So the organizing committee was busy trying to emphasize the image of a pure sports event, and a safe country. “It was very impressive to see the closing event. The Olympics was a success,” he said.
After the 1988 Olympics, there was another opportunity for Mr. Rylance to work for the country, when the Korea Football Association asked him to help on the bid for the 2002 World Cup.
“When I first decided to help Korea’s bid, all the foreign reporters told me that Japan was going to win the election and that I should not waste my time. Although I was not sure of anything else, I was sure that Korea’s love of soccer beats Japan’s.”
The result of the effort was that Korea and Japan co-hosted the event. At the time, Mr. Rylance said he was disappointed because he had hoped that Korea would win the election and be the sole host of the World Cup. Now, he said, he thinks the outcome was a better result, because Korea became internationally recognized as a country on a level with Japan.
Seventeen years have passed since Mr. Rylance made his first visit to Korea. Now he even has a Korean wife.
In response to the question of what he thinks about the changes that have taken place in Korea, he said, “I feel that Korea is missing a unique image, like people think Japan is equivalent to technology and France equals art. The most urgent job for Korea is to build an image of itself, so the world will remember.”
by Namkoong Wook