‘We will let foreign tourists continue to visit Pyeongchang after the Games’

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‘We will let foreign tourists continue to visit Pyeongchang after the Games’

Kim Jong-deok, 58, the minister of culture, sports, and tourism, is having a busy time preparing for two upcoming events; the Brazil Rio Olympics in August 2016 and the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018.

Kim is also working on several issues such as combining the Korean Olympics Committee and the Korea Council of Sport for All, rooting out corrupted admissions at universities whose students show talents in sports, and strengthening sports diplomacy. Kim does not stay at his office but goes out to meet experts on various fields on the spot.

In a recent interview, Kim revealed how he is preparing for the events and the overall sports industry in Korea.

Q. After being chosen as the new minister of culture, sports and tourism in August 2014, what have you achieved so far?

A. The combination of the Korean Olympics Committee and the Korea Council of Sport for All is smoothly proceeding. The integrated organization is almost ready to be set off until the legal due date of March 27, 2016. The two had conflicts in the past, but through profound conversations, the troubles are mostly resolved. It will produce positive effects. The area of Korea Council of Sport for All will expand, and at the same time, it will be much easier to find talented people. Also, as it expands, the elite players will favorably find jobs after they retire since they fit to the position of superb leaders. Thus, their relationships are complementary. After the Rio Olympics, there will be an election to nominate the president of the integrated sports organization.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is only two years away.

The FIS Ski World Cup in February is on schedule, which will be held at the Jeongseon Alpine Center, in Gangwon. This is the first test event planned for the 2018 Winter Games. The construction of the Alpine Center was unfortunately delayed, so our entire staffs have been working around the clock to make up for the loss. The facility does not seem to be the problem but the snow is not coming much, so I am a little worried. It needs at least 1 meter (39 inch) fall of snow.

What does the Pyeongchang Olympics need to achieve?

The government is pondering upon getting two objects achieved at the same time. One is successful launching and the other is the economic effect. The budget is now increased to 13.7 trillion won ($11.7 billion) comparing to the budget of 8.8 trillion won made up in 2010 for the Olympics’ facility construction and management. It was underestimated due to not considering the inflation rate. Thus, the main press center (MPC) and the Pyeongchang media town will use the original facility, not be newly constructed as formerly planned.

Is there other ways to reduce expenses?

For the Olympic Games, the men’s and women’s courses of ski resort of Jeongseon Alpine Center will be combined and the reconstruction of ice arenas will be planned. More plans are considered to reduce the usage of expense. We are following the similar goal that 2015 Gwangju Universiade had, which is low-cost and high efficiency. Even though the size and the characteristics of the two are different, our operators should adopt its mind.

What does the Pyeongchang Olympics need to produce afterwards?

It is very important to create added value after the games. After the Olympics, the visitors need to have reasons to come to Pyeongchang, even though it is not winter. For example, there should be various global festivals and exhibitions at the opening and closing ceremony arena. As most of the foreign tourists go to Seoul or Jeju Island, there should have attractions for them to add Pyeongchang for the destinations. It is important to display the heritage of the Winter Olympics and diverse culture contents of Gangwon to the visitors

The Rio Olympics is now eight months away.

The ministry of culture, sports and tourism is concentrating on the upgrade of systems to have successful games at the Rio Olympics. Last year, a center was built to analyze the video images of sports games. It is the system to grasp the weaknesses of our players and the counterparts in order to organize strategic plans. The professional manpower supporting the national players has increased from 19 to 38 people. Also for the Rio Olympics, the budget is set on 1.7 billion won to prepare training camps in the United States and Europe, where there is no time difference between Rio de Janeiro.

Considering the examples of the past Olympics, the sports diplomacy is quite important.

Shin A-lam, a national Korean fencer, who had a highly disputed decision by the judges in 2012 London Olympics and also with the similar case of Kim Yu-na, the former national Korean Figure Skater in 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are the victims of the uncomfortable judgments. Shin was defeated by Germany’s Britta Heidemann during their women’s epee individual semifinal competition by the controversial judgment. Kim got silver medal regardless of her flawless game, which baffled everybody, except the judges. The system to strengthen the sports diplomacy and to take immediate response on wrong decision is being reinforced.

In May, there will be sports-ministerial talks of Korea, China, and Japan in Korea.

With the start of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018, consecutive events of 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be held. As the mega events are held in the three main nations of East Asia, through the regular meeting, we will debate boosting synergy effect. By sharing know-hows and exchanging cultures, the East Asia would take off to become the center of the international sports.

Recently, there is investigation on the corrupted admission of prestigious universities on the majors of baseball and basketball.

The government is putting effort on rooting out the corrupted admission but it is not easy. If anyone is caught, he or she will be severely punished. It is essential to make the system, which can root out corruption from the start. The ministry of culture, sports, and tourism is forming a task force team with the Ministry of Education, the Korean National Police Agency, the Korean Council for University Education, Korean Olympic Committee and other related institutions to eradicate corrupted admission of students who have merits as sportsmen. The first meeting will be held this month.

In the 21st century, the horizon of sports is expanding.

Baduk, or the strategy-based board game, also known as Go, and the electronic sports are all being included to the sports field which proves the expansion of its horizon. Importance to vitalize the mind sports is acknowledged. Especially, in the recent Korean drama series “Reply 1988,” baduk player Choi Taek - played by actor Park Bo-gum helped promoting popularity on baduk. From this year, baduk is chosen as the official event in the National Sports Festival. The ministry of culture, sports, and tourism will plan to adopt policies that can increase in demand for various sports games and can expand the field of sports. It is hoping that the public can enjoy wide variety of sports.

BY CHUNG JEH-WON AND KIM SIK [kim.hyangmin@joongang.co.kr]

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