Olympic cities · PyeongChang · PyeongChang 2018 · Winter Olympics

Who’s Carrying a Torch this Year?

The 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang is getting closer and closer–the kick off is just a few months away with the torch relay. Although plans for the relay were revealed a few months ago, we thought it would be good to revisit them because our Olympic Fever is starting to build up again.

Traditionally, the start of the relay marks 100 days to go before the Winter Olympics, but this one’s going to be 101 to “signify the opening of a new chapter for the Olympic Games,” according to the plan infographic.

Huh? I’m not quite sure what that means, but I’ll be honest–if host cities are starting to expand this event much like the Games keep expanding, it’s soon going to not be worth the effort. Torch creep could mean that by 2028, we’ll see the relay start a year ahead of time–and believe me, while it could generate a little more excitement in that moment, by the end of the relay, no one will care. We’ll all have torch fatigue by then.

But for now, we’ll have one extra day of it, and we’ll have to see what this new chapter of Olympic Games is all about.

It all kicks off in Olympia on October 24. Then the flame flies to South Korea to make a 17 city and province journey around the country. 7,500 lucky people will have the honor of being torch bearers.


Know Your Host City · Olympic cities · PyeongChang

GTKPC: So Much K-Pop!

While we’re getting to know PyeongChang, we also have to get to know K-Pop, Korean pop music, which is super-infectious and fun to listen to. Last month, the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization hosted the 2018 PyeongChang K-Pop Festival–which was held in Seoul, actually–to help the world get to know modern Korean culture.  Let’s take a look at some of the performers:


The Wonder Girls have a pretty complex history, with members coming and going, injuries and health issues, and even a long hiatus. This song is “Why So Lonely” off their 4th album, which came out earlier this year.


WSJN also goes by Cosmic Girls and released their first mini album earlier this year. This group is enormous–13 people who are grouped into four units called Wonder, Joy, Sweet and Natural.

K-pop’s not all girls…you’ve got the boy bands too! Here’s Boys Republic:

And SHINee:

Catchy stuff, right?

Know Your Host City · Olympic cities · PyeongChang

GTKPC: Seoul Far Away?

I was perusing the PyeongChang 2018 bid book today, as I really wanted to talk more about Korea’s geography–in particular the mountains, since a good chunk of the Olympics relies on skiing or jumping down them. Well, then I fell into a huge rabbit hole because (a) the Korean Peninsula is generally covered with mountains, and (b) PyeongChang is located in the Greater Baekdu Mountain Range, which I’m learning is a big deal to the country, so I really want to research that a bit more and give it its proper due.

However, a different tidbit I picked out of the 2018 bid book [and mind you, the 2018 Games was PyeongChang’s third attempt at getting the Winter Olympics] was that the Organizing Committee plans to use Incheon as the main airport for welcoming the athletes.

Quick look of the map. Incheon’s on the other side of the country!

One might think, Man, that’s kind of a haul to cross through most of the country. Surely they have another major airport that’s closer!

Well, apparently my American is showing. The bid book notes that it only takes three hours by car to reach PyeongChang from any city in South Korea. And it’s just one hour by rail from Seoul. Three hours! You can probably get from the West Coast to the East Coast in four, five hours at the most! Compare that to the US, where it takes about four hours to get from Boston to New York City, and that’s just one small corridor of the country. For the record, the journey from Boston to New York City by train is also about four hours, due to lack of high speed rail capability.

This means that for those of us who live in a larger country in terms of land mass, we’re going to have to get used to a completely different outlook in terms of geography. It’s the complete opposite of the last Olympics in Sochi, which is in the largest country in the world. Getting to the other side of the country meant you were in for the long haul.

Not this time. This has certainly got the potential to be fun–especially if you actually go to the Olympics–because it makes the country a little easier to explore. Perhaps this Olympics will not only show off this region, but the rest of the country in general.

Know Your Host City · Olympic cities · PyeongChang · PyeongChang 2018 · Uncategorized

PyeongChang: Let’s Get to Know You!

We’ve got a little over a year to go before the next Olympic Games, which take place in PyeongChang, South Korea, and that means we’ve got plenty of time to get to know our next host city.

Each week until the next Olympics, we’re going to write a post about some aspect of the host. If you have suggestions for posts or burning questions, let us know, and we’ll try to address them.

First off, let’s talk about the name itself. The “PyeongChang” that you’re going to see everywhere is a rebranding of the name. Yep. The original spelling was Pyongchang, which is mighty close to Pyongyang, capital of everyone’s favorite dictatorship, North Korea. Add an “e,” capitalize the “c” and voilá! You have a brand-new city that is definitely not the same. Because you know some people are going to make that mistake and wind up in a very wrong place.

[Seriously, though, if North Korea wanted to have a little fun with the world, they should create some sort of plywood Olympic facade to greet people when they got out of the airport so they’d never notice the difference. See our authentic Olympic venues? Go on, go in! There’s no labor camps behind them!]

Back to our real host place. PyeongChang is a county (gun) in Gangwon province (do), so you might hear or see these referred to as PyeongChang-gun and Gangwon-do. That just specifies the county/province.  [To add more confusion, North Korea also has a province pronounced the same way, but its English spelling is Kangwon. And it borders Gangwon-do. The only thing that would make this a more Bizarro World situation is if Pyongyang was in this province, but it’s not. According to Ganwon-do’s provincial website, the two provinces used to be one, but are now divided due to the war.]

Gangwon-do is in the northeast corner of South Korea. It’s got coastal access to the East Sea (aka Sea of Japan), is on the DMZ, and it’s also home to the Taebak Mountains, the Alps of Korea–in fact, many of the Olympic skiing events will be at Alpensia Sports Park, which is in PyeongChang-gun. Ice-related events will be east of this cluster in Gangneung, a separate city that’s closer to the coast of the East Sea . Two other venues hosting skiing events will be west and southwest of Alpensia in Bongpyeong-myeon (a township) and Jeongseon-gun.

PyeongChang 2018 boasts that its events are all within 30 minutes of Alpensia. How far is that from Seoul? It’s 182 km southeast of the country’s capital. According to a CNN article, that’s three and a half hours by car, but the country’s working on a high-speed train line that will make the journey a little under an hour.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of where in the world the Olympics will be in 2018 and what the media are talking about when they talk about PyeongChang.