South Korean TV network apologizes for using wild, offensive images during Opening Ceremony broadcast

·Writer
·3 min read

A South Korean TV network apologized after it used several wild, offensive and sometimes random images to represent countries as they walked out during the Opening Ceremony at the Olympics on Friday night.

MBC included small images and a fact or two in the corner of the screen as athletes walked out during the parade of nations at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, something similar to what NBC did in the United States. 

Those images, however, ranged from a photo of a pizza for Italy to a photo of Chernobyl for Ukraine.

Naturally, the move drew intense backlash that prompted MBC to issue an apology hours later.

"Inappropriate images and captions were used to introduce some stories,” they wrote, in part, via Reuters. “We apologized to those countries including Ukraine and our viewers.”

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South Korean TV network used wild, incorrect images

Some of the images that MBC used weren’t technically wrong.

While it’s incredibly weird to put up a photo of pizza when the Italian athletes walked out onto the track, that by itself isn’t offensive. Some countries' images made sense, too. MBC used pictures of Queen Elizabeth II and Buckingham Palace, for example, for Great Britain. 

Yet as the ceremony went on, the network’s image choices kept getting worse. The two worst came when Ukraine and Haiti walked out.

The network put up a photo of the Chernobyl blast site for the Ukrainian team, referencing the nuclear reactor meltdown in the 1980s that ravaged parts of the region.

Haiti’s was just as bad. MBC added a picture of what looked like Haitian men protesting in front of an explosion and included the words, "the political situation is fogged by the assassination of the president." Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moise, was killed in his home earlier this month.

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The channel also carried strange tags for the Marshall Islands, Sweden and El Salvador — which had a photo of a Bitcoin sign — among others. Syria was described as "rich underground resources; a civil war that has been going on for 10 years."

For Romania, MBC used a photo of Dracula.

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