South Korean Network Apologizes for ‘Inappropriate’ Dracula, Pizza Images During Olympics

MBC displayed images of pizza, chernobyl, and Dracula to introduce Olympic teams.
Screencap/MBC

A South Korean public broadcaster was forced to issue an apology Monday after social media users accused the TV station of using “inappropriate” images and commentary during its coverage of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony on July 23, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

“As the chief executive of MBC’s content, I offer my deepest apologies with my head bowed down to the people who had to go through pain due to our reckless and careless broadcast and to viewers who were disappointed with us,” MBC President Park Sung-jae told reporters during a press conference in Seoul on July 26.

Park referred to MBC’s use of imagery and commentary that “went too far,” according to Yonhap, when “presenting information … for several countries during the opening ceremony coverage Friday.”

The TV station “showed an image of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which is considered the worst nuclear accident in history, when Ukraine’s athletes appeared on the screen,” Yonhap recalled. MBC referred to a deadly accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located near the modern-day Ukrainian city of Pripyat. The nuclear disaster took place when Ukraine was still a colony of the Soviet Union.

“When Haiti’s players walked into the stadium, MBC posted photos with a caption that explains the country’s political situation. The photos referred to the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise earlier this month,” Yonhap detailed. Haiti is currently embroiled in violent turmoil after a foreign hit squad assassinated its president, Jovenel Moise, at his private residence in Port-au-Prince on July 7.

MBC used “a picture of Count Dracula” to help illustrate the entrance of Romania’s team, according to the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Voice of America (VOA). MBC referred to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, an 1897 gothic horror novel based on a vampire myth from medieval Transylvania, or modern-day Romania.

To enhance its coverage of Norway’s team entrance during the opening ceremony, “MBC used a picture of fresh salmon. For Italy: pizza. For Mongolia: Genghis Khan,” VOA relayed.

Norway is known for its abundant salmon supply. The Nordic country is “the biggest producer of farmed salmon in the world, with more than one million tonnes produced each year,” according to a 2019 report by the BBC.

Italy is likewise famous for another gastronomic offering known as pizza. The modern version of the dish — which consists of a base of leavened dough and layers of tomato sauce, cheese, and various toppings — originated in Naples, Italy, at the turn of the 19th century. It has since become a globally popular food.

Genghis Khan founded and led the Mongol Empire, which grew into the largest contiguous land empire in history following his death in 1227. Though vast at its peak, the Mongol Empire originated from nomadic tribes in modern-day Mongolia.

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