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South Korean broadcaster criticised for weird stereotypes during Olympic ceremony

Some are funny. Others are fucking odd. Broadcaster MBC covered the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday.

They have since apologised for their insensitive representation of countries.

As athletes from each Olympic participating country walked into the stadium carrying their flags, Seoul-based MBC put up representational photos and captions.

Pictured: Italy represented by pizza, Image: MBC via Twitter @koryodynasty

Images included pizza for Italy, Dracula for Romania and salmon for Norway.

Most problematic were images and captions that addressed difficult periods endured by the nations.

For Ukraine, MBC presented a photo of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, often described as the worst nuclear accident in history.

For Haiti, where president Jovenel Moise was recently assassinated, a photo depicting protests was shown.

According to Seoul-based journalist Raphael Rashid, the caption read: “the political situation is fogged by the assassination of the president“.

Rashid also stated that for the Marshall Islands, a caption read: “was once a nuclear test site for the US, and is composed of more than 1,200 islands“.

He further said that each country’s GDP was broadcasted as they carried their flags.

Some representations were vastly less offensive than others. However, the decision to use representative images was, in itself, largely reductionist.

The broadcaster has since issued a formal apology on Twitter.

MBC explained that the images and captions were intended to allow for easier recognition of the countries.

However, we admit that there was a lack of consideration for the countries concerned, and the inspection was not thorough enough. It is an inexcusable mistake“, they said.

The apology noted that the company “will thoroughly investigate the process of image selection, subtitling, and inspection and strictly take follow-up measures“.

In a conference held by Chief Executive of the company, Park Sung-jae, he stated:

Our broadcast violated the Olympic spirits of friendship, solidarity and unity in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic… I deeply apologize for our indiscriminate broadcasts, which lacked consideration for other countries.