Korean broadcaster MBC – one of the country’s largest broadcasters – went under fire for showing inappropriate images to introduce the countries during the parade of nations at the Tokyo Olympics’ Opening Ceremony. Perhaps they did it according to their knowledge or stereotype of a country, but even so, some of the images they chose struck a wrong chord with the audience.
The station first issued an apology immediately after the channel’s coverage of the opening ceremony, and then was pressed to actually publish a proper apology – which they did on their Twitter but in Korean. So, disappointed Korean viewers prompted MBC to publish an English version on their website and Twitter page:
Here are some memorably bad choice of images – as highlighted by Seoul-based freelance journo @koryodynasty and others – to represent some countries:
Romania: Count Dracula
El Salvador: A bitcoin
Countries with COVID-19 vax rates
For no reason, the network also commented on the COVID-19 vaccination rate of some of the participating countries, including Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Sweden.
The Cuban delegation was matched with a scene of social unrest in Cuba. Even if the images weren’t unsavoury, the descriptions where. For the Marshall Islands, the description ran: “was once a nuclear test site for the US, and is composed of more than 1,200 islands,” while Syria was introduced as “a country with rich underground resources and 10 years of civil war” and Nauru was a “country experiencing economic decline with the depletion of its major natural resource phosphorite.”
However, some countries were represented with less inappropriate images. MBC used pictures of Queen Elizabeth II and Buckingham Palace, for example, for Great Britain. Interestingly for some countries, the descriptions were more gastronomic, with images of pizza for Italy, sushi for Japan, and salmon for Norway.