Olympic medal ceremonies blend new and old

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Olympic medal ceremonies blend new and old


Models wear costumes for the victory ceremonies at the PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games during an unveiling event in Seoul on Wednesday. [YONHAP]

Organizers of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics on Wednesday unveiled the podiums, costumes, music and gifts for medalists that will be used during the victory ceremonies.

The PyeongChang Organizing Committee said the ceremonies will be staged under the concept of “convergence and uniqueness,” adding that the design of the victory ceremony items was based on the idea of combining aspects of Western and Eastern culture, as well as modern and traditional styles.

The victory ceremony programs will also deliver the unique beauty of Korean culture, organizers said.

Top performing athletes at both the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will be recognized at the venue immediately after the end of competition. They will be honored again in a victory ceremony which the organizers like to call a “cultural celebration.”

The committee said that the Olympics will include 103 victory ceremonies, while the Paralympics will have 80 medal-awarding events. The ceremonies will be staged at the Medal Plaza inside the Olympic Plaza in Pyeongchang County, Gangwon, between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. during the Games.

The white podiums, designed by Han Kyung-woo, a professor of installation art at Seoul National University of Science and Technology, were inspired by snow on traditional Korean tiled roofs known as giwa and applied characteristics of dancheong, a traditional Korean decorative coloring on wooden buildings and artifacts.

The podium structure is modular in design to account for its weight and ease of mobility, according to organizers. For the Paralympic podiums, there are slopes to provide easy wheelchair access.

“It took me more than six months to design the podium,” Han said. “I tried my best to incorporate Korean aesthetic culture.”

The elegant costume designs created by Geum Key-sook, a professor of textile arts and fashion design at Hongik University, use the colors white, blue and red, which are also on the Korean national flag. The costumes also have designs from traditional Korean winter clothes and hats, with a snowflake pattern and Korean alphabet incorporated.

Geum also designed the costumes for medal-bearers and athlete escorts to stay warm against Pyeongchang’s cold weather. There are two sets of outfits made with quilting or padding: for snow and ice sports, each with corresponding designs for men and women.

“I wanted to show Korea’s identity and tried to add a modern flavor into our traditional wardrobe,” Geum said. “It was important to make a wearer-friendly outfit.”

There will be no floral bouquets at the PyeongChang Games, but the committee will give a mini doll of the Games mascots wearing uhsahwa, a paper flower that was bestowed to those who passed national exams during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), to the medal winners.

Olympic medalists will receive a mini doll of Soohorang, one of the mascots, along with a wooden artifact incorporating hangul and the mountainous scenery of Pyeongchang. Paralympic medalists will receive a mini doll of Bandabi, the Paralympic mascot, with uhsahwa.

The gifts will be presented from a special ceremony tray, which includes a non-slip surface and special grips for better stability in the cold weather, according to the committee.

The music that will be used during the medal-awarding ceremony was composed by Cho Young-soo, who previously made songs for K-pop groups like SG Wannabe and T-ara.

“I first thought about the feelings of the athletes on the podium,” Cho said. “I used rhythm and sound of gugak, Korean traditional music, but not too much so that foreign audiences can also enjoy.”

Lee Hee-beom, who leads the committee, said the victory ceremonies will be a festival for both athletes and fans.

“We will try to show Korea’s unique culture and beauty to the world,” he said. “For athletes, it’s going to be one of the most important moments in their life, but for fans, it will be a culture festival.”

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