×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Warm-Hearted Opening Ceremony for South Korea’s Winter Olympic Games

Earmuffs, extra thick anoraks, and a stadium where LED lighting appeared to have replaced the spectators were the order of the day at the opening ceremony of the XXII Olympic Winter Games, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday against a backdrop of political and strategic maneuvering between the divided north and south.

National athletes paraded in around a center circle and a ring of energetic dancers, while in the hills nearby there were volleys of fireworks and torch-bearing skiers.

The Pyeongchang Games are already providing a snowy backdrop to something of a thaw in relations between North and South Korea, two nations still technically at war. Earlier in the day, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands and briefly chatted with North Korea’s figurehead leader, Kim Yong-nam. Then, at one point during the opening ceremony, Moon, Kim Yong-nam and Kim Jo-yong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, were clustered together inside the glass box from which VIPs watched the athletes march in. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence sat next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Politics was momentarily set aside when athletes from North and South Korea made their entrance for the first time under a single banner, as a unified Korean team decked out in white padded coats and black slacks. They appeared huddled together, but it was not clear if that was caused by an overflow of amity, the extreme cold, or their large numbers.

“United, we are stronger than all the forces that want to divide us,” Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said to a round of applause.

Other large cheers were heard for the six countries represented for the first time, and for athletes from small or tropical territories such as Jamaica, Eritrea, Hong Kong and Singapore.

And Pita Taufatofua was back. The oiled-up athlete from Tonga went shirtless two years ago at the opening of the Summer Games in Brazil, and became an Internet sensation in the process. He went topless again in the Korean Alps, despite the subzero conditions.

Other parts of the ceremony ranged from high-tech light formations and clever use of projection mapping to flag bearers wearing Korean traditional costume. Less convincing was a creaky four-person rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

More TV

  • Cineflix Rights Scoops Icelandic Political Series

    Cineflix Rights Scoops Icelandic Political Series 'The Minister'

    Cineflix Rights, a leading U.K. content distributor, has acquired “The Minister,” the anticipated political drama series headlined by Icelandic star Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”). Produced by the Icelandic company Sagafilm, “The Minister” centres on Benedikt Ríkhardsson (Ólafsson), a populist politician who becomes Iceland’s Prime Minister. However, Benedikt is suffering from [...]

  • WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make

    WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make Deals if Agents are Fired

    The Writers Guild of America has authorized managers and lawyers to negotiate deals for writers in place of agents — if the guild tells members to fire their agents on April 7. The guild’s negotiating committee notified members of the plans in a message Wednesday. The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents having made [...]

  • Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna'Jane

    Rachel Bloom on the 'Beautiful Mystery' of the 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Series Finale

    While four seasons of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” have explored musical genres from boy bands to country, the one type of music series co-creator and star Rachel Bloom admits the show will not explore before the end is Rebecca’s own style. “Basically the idea is that part of the music in her mind is her looking inside [...]

  • Netflix's Lisa Nishimura Named Indie Film,

    Netflix's Lisa Nishimura Named Indie Film, Documentary Features Head

    In the wake of Bela Bajaria’s recent move to lead Netflix’s international non-English original TV series, the online streamer is shuffling its leadership team to more clearly distinguish between development of its English and non-English language content. As a result, Netflix has elevated Lisa Nishimura to vice president of independent film and documentary features, a [...]

  • Family Guy Bob's Burgers

    Fox Entertainment Lays Out Programming Slate in Post-Disney Merger Sizzle Reel (Watch)

    Fox Entertainment unveiled a new sizzle reel on Wednesday night in the wake of the Disney-21st Century Fox merger officially closing, with the broadcaster touting its current series roster. The video features both scripted and unscripted programming across Fox’s lineup. Among the shows featured are legacy series like “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” and “Empire.” In [...]

  • Katherine Heigl

    Katherine Heigl Cast as Lead in CBS Comedy Pilot

    Katherine Heigl has been cast as the female lead in the CBS comedy pilot “Our House,” Variety has learned. The show centers around a devoted mom (Heigl) and dad, who are committed to raising their children with the love and support the mom never got as a kid, but discover how difficult that is with her insane [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content