South Korean TV Channel’s Apology for Olympics Images

On Saturday, a major South Korean broadcaster apologized for using images and captions deemed “offensive” to describe the countries participating in the Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony.

MBC, one of the largest South Korean television networks, showed a picture of Dracula for Romania and a pizza for Italy.

Besides, the broadcaster depicted a riot to describe Haiti and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to represent Ukraine.

But MBC has apologized for offending viewers after being heavily criticized for its “offensive and ridiculous” images.

“We apologies to those countries including Ukraine and our viewers,” it said.

Although the channel explained that it wanted to make it easier for viewers to understand entering nations, it admitted that it was an “inexcusable mistake.”

However, the network’s apology did not stop the outrage online.

Freelance journalist Raphael Rashid posted a Twitter thread, which quickly reached more than 17,000 retweets, about the descriptions MBC used.

An on-screen caption referred to a country with “an unstable political situation due to the assassination of the president” when the Haiti team entered.

For the Marshall Islands, the description said it “was once a nuclear test site for the US, and is composed of more than 1,200 islands.”

Also, when the Syrian team entered, a caption read: “A civil war that has been going on for 10 years.”

The channel also used a piece of salmon to describe Norway and sushi to refer to Japan.

Within minutes, dozens of users started criticizing MBC while others tried to guess what images it would use for other nations.

At a press conference on Monday, the channel’s CEO Park Sung-jae apologized for MBC’s actions.

He said that it had “damaged the Olympic values of friendship, solidarity and harmony.”

“I bow my head and deeply apologize,” he said, adding that MBC would be putting “in all [their] effort to prevent another accident from happening.”

According to local and international media, MBC has faced legal issues for the same offense in the past.

In 2008, it was fined after using similar images and captions at the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It described Zimbabwe as “a country with deadly inflation.”