MBC issues apology for controversial opening ceremony coverage
MBC, one of Korea’s major public broadcasters, apologized Saturday after it used offensive images and captions to describe the countries participating in the Tokyo Olympics during the opening ceremony on Friday night.
MBC used images of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster to describe Ukraine, when athletes from the country entered the Tokyo stadium for the opening ceremony. For Haiti, it used the image of a riot along with the caption “the country’s political situation clouded after the assassination of its president.”
The broadcaster also used the images of a promotional bitcoin poster for El Salvador, an old black-and-white movie still depicting Dracula for Romania, pizza for Italy and salmon for Norway. In its captions, MBC described Syria as the country that has "a civil war going on for 10 years" and the Marshall Islands as "once a nuclear test site for the United States.”
MBC was flooded with criticism on social media during its broadcast of the opening ceremony, leading it to issue an apology in Korean at the end of the program. It read, "We used inappropriate images and captions to introduce some countries including Ukraine and Haiti. We apologize to those countries including Ukraine and our viewers."
However, the broadcaster continued to face criticism. Foreign journalists tweeted screen captures from the program while some Korean social media users made parody images such as Korean athletes entering the stadium with the image of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.
MBC issued another apology, this time in English, on Saturday. “We sincerely apologize to the countries concerned and the viewers [...] We will thoroughly investigate the process of image selection, subtitling, and inspection and strictly take follow-up measures based on the investigation result.
BY MOON SO-YOUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]