Is it too cold to go outside and play? Then I got some good news. You can start watching the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics starting on February 9, 2018. But you are not likely to have fun watching the Olympic Games unless you know the following facts. So let's begin. (Also, don't forget to check out the schedule.)
It's Pyeongchang and not Pyongyang
Not many people have heard of Pyeongchang (it's pronounced "pyuhng-chahng"). It's a county on the east side of South Korea, about 200 km away from Seoul. But did you know that there is also a placed called Pyongyang, which happens to be North Korea's capital city?
In 2015, a man from Kenya mixed up the two names and took a flight to Pyongyang ("pyuhng-yahng"). That's right. He went to North Korea because of a tiny mistake. Luckily, he was able to take another flight to South Korea after paying a hefty $500 fine. (The fine was for entering North Korea without a visa.)
Conveniently, people traveling to South Korea for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be landing at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, nowhere near Pyeongchang or Pyongyang.
Third time was a charm
Hosting the Winter Olympics in South Korea was not a smooth ride in the beginning. Even though Pyeongchang was one of the favorites to win the event, the final bids went to Vancouver for 2010 and Sochi for 2014, respectively. (South Korea lost both times by only a few votes.)
But in 2011, the dream came true. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) finally greenlit Pyeongchang as the host place for the Winter Olympics for 2018. Like the old saying, third time's a charm.
Two Korean teams will play as one
Kim Jong-un, the so called leader of North Korea, likes to play with his toys. There is nothing wrong with that except that he is over 30 years old and his toys happen to be very, very dangerous. In 2017, North Korea kept testing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) repeatedly, alarming people all over the world.
Recently, however, Kim decided to play nice. North Korea has halted their missile launches, at least for now. The governments of the two Koreas also have decided to unify their women's ice hockey teams for the Olympics. We can only wish this is a small beginning for something much bigger.
The logo is made up of two Korean letters
People who can read Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, will notice two letters from the logo. The square-like symbol represents the "P" sound in Pyeong. The star symbol represents the "Ch" sound in Chang. When you put them together, you get "Pyeongchang" (or "poncho").
Russia has not been invited (well, sort of)
Athletes from over 90 countries will be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, Russia is not among them. According to the IOC, the previous host of the Winter Olympics provided banned substances in 2014 to some of the Russian athletes. Therefore, Russia as a country will not be attending Pyeongchang this year.
But not everything is lost for "Mother Russia." Russian athletes are allowed to participate in Pyeongchang as Olympic Athletes from Russia or OAR. (It seems like they didn't waste too much time coming up with the name.)
Meet the mascots, Soohorang and Bandabi
There are two mascots for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. One is a white tiger named Soohorang ("soo-hoh-rahng"). The other one an Asiatic black bear, Bandabi ("bahn-dah-bee"). Would you like to know more about them? Good, I didn't think so.
There will be K-pop stars performing
It is not clear which K-pop stars or groups will be performing in Pyeongchang. However, something tells me we might see performances from Taeyang, AOA and/or Girl's Day. (Taeyang is from a boy band called BigBang and he has already recorded a song for the Winter Olympics.) For more on K-pop, see Top 9 Most Popular K-pop Groups of 2018.
This is what the medals look like
Getting an opportunity to participate in the Olympics is an honor in itself. But most athletes will not stop there. Most likely, they will try to go for the gold medal. Check out the video and see the medal designs for gold, silver, and bronze.
From Pyeongchang to Beijing
Four years from now it will be China's turn to host the Winter Olympics. The 2022 event will be held in China's capital, Beijing, making them the third East-Asian country to host the Winter Olympics after Japan and South Korea.
That's almost 1,500 days from today. What will the world look like in 2022? Will South Korea and North Korea get along? Will the United States have a new President? Anything is possible. Perhaps Donald Trump will fly to North Korea with Dennis Rodman to meet Kim Jong-un and they will have Big Macs and Diet Coke together. Only time will tell.