Culture minister proposes Culture Olympics to IOC head
Culture minister Hwang Hee, who recently returned to Korea from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, met with local reporters Tuesday and said he recommended that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) launch a Culture Olympics along with the Olympic Games and the Paralympics.
“In Beijing, I had an opportunity to discuss this with Thomas Bach, head of the executive board at the IOC. I suggested adding a Culture Olympics and he responded positively, saying he wants to hear the details,” said Hwang.
Hwang said he plans to launch an organizing committee to map out the details, like “whether the Culture Olympics can take the form of the current Olympic Games and become a competitive event with a ranking system or be a noncompetitive event that can be participated in by more people and so on.”
“If things work out, I’ll be vising the IOC next month to make a presentation,” said Hwang, adding that the Olympic Games should pursue becoming a bigger event rather than merely covering sports.
“One of the objectives of the Olympic Games is to gather people from different parts of the world together and to minimize cultural differences and bring about peace and harmony,” said Hwang. “I think the best way to minimize cultural differences is to add Culture Olympics during the Olympic Games.”
The next Olympic Games will be the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France and the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, Korea. Hwang said he hopes to see Culture Olympics included at either one of the events.
“The hosting country attracts about 100,000 to 200,000 foreigners during the Olympics but with the Culture Olympics, I believe the number can go up to one to two million,” said Hwang.
Regarding criticism against Hwang from the Korean public for not making an official complaint while in Beijing when an ethic Korean donning hanbok, or traditional Korean attire, appeared along with other representatives from China’s 56 ethnicities during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games, Hwang said there’s no “pretext for Korea to officially complain on a government level as the Chinese government acknowledged that hanbok is Korea’s traditional clothing.”
“It’s a feud between the Korean and Chinese public and as a government official, the only thing I could do was to attend the ceremony wearing hanbok,” said Hwang. “This is one of the reasons why I think events like a Culture Olympics would be indispensable for Korea. We have to let the world know what kind of traditions we have and stand firm as a cultural powerhouse so that no one can doubt that kimchi and hanbok are Korea's traditional culture.”
BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [firstname.lastname@example.org]