South Korea, who repeatedly criticized Japan at the Tokyo Olympics, contradicts itself at the Beijing Olympics
South Koreans’ love for their country, dropping Tokyo and Beijing and lifting Pyeongchang
Article on Feb. 11th, 2022 by Mayo Haneda (Business writer. After graduating from Doshisha University and working for a Japanese company for four years, she moved to Seoul, South Korea in 2014 to study the situation in Japan and South Korea. In 2014, she moved to Seoul, South Korea on her own to research the situation in Japan and South Korea. While working for a Korean company, she also writes as a business writer.)
The Beijing Olympics have finally started. It is only six months after the Tokyo Olympics, so the impression is that it has come quickly. For better or worse, the two events will be compared.
During the Tokyo Olympics, the South Korean people went all out to criticize Japan. The Japanese were fed up with the daily reports of criticism of Japan, such as “the food at the athletes’ village is contaminated with radiation,” “some spectators waved the rising sun flag at the cycling event,” and “a cardboard bed broke down just by lying on it.
As if following in the footsteps of the Tokyo Olympics, there were signs that criticism of Japan by South Korea would begin at the Beijing Olympics as well.
Dr. Seo Jung-deok, a professor at Seongshin Women’s University and known as an “anti-Japanese professor,” brought out the familiar image of the “Harken-Kreuz,” the rising sun flag, and called on his people, “Today (February 4) is the first day of the Olympics in Beijing. At the PyeongChang Olympics, a photo of a Japanese athlete wearing a hat with a pattern of the rising sun was posted on the official social networking site of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and it became a problem. At the Tokyo Olympics, even though the event was held without spectators, there was a problem when a cheering scene using the Rising Sun flag appeared during the men’s cycling event. In this way, we have decided that we need to keep a close eye on the Rising Sun flag, as it has recently become a problem whenever the Olympics are held. If you are watching the games and see the rising sun flag pattern, please send us a direct mail and let us know immediately.”
But what if we open the lid?
As of the fourth day of the Games (February 8), the only criticism of Japan raised by Koreans was that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced Japanese athletes before Korean athletes on its official Korean social media, saying, “Yuzuru Hanyu finally trains for the first time at the 2022 Beijing-Tokyo Olympics.
Indeed, the IOC’s social networking site said, “Japanese athletes on Korean account? What’s up with Hanyu? What’s with Hanyu? Put the Koreans on it.” There was a flood of critical comments.
Later, the Korean-language version of the social media also seemed to take the Korean public into consideration, posting photos and videos of the men’s national figure skater, Cha Jun-hwan, three times in one day. As for the ranking of the men’s short program (February 8), Hanyu, who was one of the leading candidates for the gold medal, was ranked 8th, and Cha was ranked 4th, so the Korean people’s anger at the result must have subsided somewhat. It was a one-time victory for the Koreans over the world’s Hanyu, and over Japan.
Koreans’ Criticism Toward China, Not Japan
As you can see, there has been no major criticism of Japan by Koreans at the Beijing Olympics so far. Instead, the Koreans are expressing their anger at China, the host country.
In fact, in response to the staging of the opening ceremony, in which a woman wearing a hanbok (Korean traditional dress) carried the Chinese flag, the Koreans expressed their anger, saying that it took away Korean culture. Dr. Seo also immediately posted a protest on his Social Media.
However, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, which oversees the Olympics in South Korea, did not formally protest to the Chinese side, saying, “There is a possibility of misunderstanding in the good relationship between the two countries.
At the time of the Tokyo Olympics, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism had only provoked Japan by displaying banners at the athletes’ village and preparing radiation-free lunch boxes, but this time, the Ministry took a rather weak stance toward the Chinese government, saying, “This is different from Japan’s Dokdo (the Korean name for Takeshima which South Korea claims to be South Korean territory).”
The director of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said, “I heard that Hanbok would appear in the preview video of the opening ceremony, so I brought it with me just in case,” and “The fact that I, a representative of the government, wore Hanbok to the opening ceremony was a sign of silent protest,” adding that he attended the opening ceremony alone wearing Hanbok, but it is not clear whether this was a protest or not.
South Korea’s criticism of China extends to a variety of areas.
For example, the Seoul News reported, “The cab fares for the Beijing Olympics are a rip-off. Every time I get in a cab, I feel as if I am in a Japanese cab, which is notorious for its high prices. It was only a 15-minute ride from the speed skating stadium to the main media center, but the fare was about 1,600 yen, four times higher than the regular cab fare (about 400 yen).
Also, perhaps due to the fact that the Asian region relayed three Olympic Games: the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the 2020 (to be held in 2021) Tokyo Summer Olympics, and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Yonhap News published an article comparing these three events.
The article said, “The science and technology used in the facilities of the Beijing Olympics is excellent, but the food is greasy and tasteless,” “At the Tokyo Olympics, athletes were forced to sleep on cardboard beds, and the organizing committee was insensitive in not allowing TVs and refrigerators to be installed. It was an environment that did not feel like Japan in the 21st century.
On the other hand, they praised the PyeongChang Olympics held in their own country as follows.
“The poor quality of the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics has brought renewed attention to the PyeongChang Olympics’ athlete’s village facilities.”
South Korea rejoices that PyeongChang Olympics’ viewership is higher than Beijing Olympics.
According to the same article, the PyeongChang Olympics provided warmth to the athletes with Korean Ondol and satisfied their appetites with freshly baked bread and pizza. There were even long lines at the massage chairs and nail stores set up in the athletes’ village. The only complaint was that the light switches in the rooms were in Korean, which was inconvenient for the athletes who could not read the characters.
In the case of the Beijing Olympics, there were some problems, such as an American reporter ordering a “spicy hot pot” and being served a dish that was not spicy at all, but besides the Korean athletes, there were not many people shouting aloud that the food served in Beijing was “bad.
Of course, since the food is prepared in another country, it may or may not suit one’s palate. However, the cafeteria in the athletes’ village has enough dishes to solve this problem. If the athletes are used to traveling abroad, they will be able to adapt well.
The cardboard beds at the Tokyo Olympics caused controversy in Japan, but TVs and refrigerators require prior application, and it is the fault of the home country for not applying for them to be installed in the rooms. There is no reason for Japan to be criticized.
In addition, high cab fares are normal in developed countries; according to 2017 statistics, Tokyo’s cab fares are the second highest after New York, but not much different from London and Sydney, the next highest.
In addition, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism did not criticize China’s use of Hanbok for the opening ceremony, saying that it was different from Japan’s Dokdo, but Hanbok and “Dokdo” are issues that have no causal relationship at all. As the Chinese Embassy in Korea stated, “As a minority ethnic group in China, we introduced the culture and costumes of the Korean people,” so this is not a problem either. We think we should respect our fellow countrymen.
In addition, Sports Kyonghyang reported, “The viewership ratings for the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Olympics in Japan were 30.1% in the Kanto region and 30.3% in the Kansai region, while the ratings for the Beijing Olympics were 21.3% in the Kanto region and 20.3% in the Kansai region. The report seems to imply that Japanese people are more interested in Korea than China.
Koreans Unaware of Japan’s Distrust of Korea
As was the case with the boycott of Japanese products, there are still many Koreans who mistakenly believe that Japan favors Korea even when it criticizes Japan. The popularity of K-pop, Korean beauty products, Korean food, etc. in Japan seems to have led Koreans to this misconception, but Japan’s distrust of Korea is far from that lukewarm.
The reason why Koreans criticize China so much is because they believe that the Korean people are superior to the Chinese people. Living in Korea, I often hear people say, “Chinese cities are dirty and full of garbage,” “China is unsanitary,” and “Chinese people are noisy. I have traveled from South Korea to China’s urban areas several times, and I found them to be as clean as or cleaner than South Korea, at least in the urban areas.
So far, there has been no major criticism of Japan by South Korea in relation to the Beijing Olympics, but it seems that in the minds of Koreans, there is always the idea that Japan is the target of criticism. The Korean mentality of “Japan is our rival” and “Japan is the one we must beat” is probably the reason why they involve Japan, which has nothing to do with the Olympics, in their reporting and comments.
If the pattern of the rising sun does not appear at the Beijing Olympics, they must be thinking, “Japan has finally changed its mind. Japan has finally changed its mind.