By Jeongnam Kim
(Former Senior Presidential Secretary for Education·Culture·Society, World Korean News advisor)
The success of bringing the Winter Olympics to Pyeongchang, Kangwon Province, in South Korea, is good news, like sunshine after days of long rain. It’s also a brilliant achievement. It brought us satisfaction beyond measure, especially in the light of the twice-suffered failure in bringing the Olympics to Korea.
The hidden backstage stories of the individuals who contributed to the monumental achievement, some knowingly and others incognito, are being revealed one after another. The presentation that took place at the time of the official announcement was also very heartening. At the momentous occasion, the eyes of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee become wet with tears. The scene was very impressive indeed. I would like to applaud all those who had made this possible.
This success was greatly dependent on the support of the multitudes throughout the world who joined our campaign to expand the scope of the winter sports to the end of the earth. South Korea had invited the youth of the non-winter Olympic countries every year without cessation, with a view to pushing the envelope and strengthening the basis of the winter sports.
This program received eager support from the countries alienated from the winter sports in Asia, mid-and south American and African. Of course this success was also due to the unreserved support of 93 percent majority of the Korean people, rising up with the heat of the movement to bring the Olympics to Korea.
It is indeed a miracle that the world Olympics is set to take place in a country village of Gangwon Province located on the mostly deserted area of the Korean peninsula in the Far East. It seems to me to be an auspicious sign that the prophecy of Toynbee, the English philosopher, that a new civilization will rise up in the most far-off edges, is coming true in Pyungchang.
According to Hyundai Economic Research Institute, the economic effects of the Pyongchang Winter Olympics will be worth 65 trillion Won, including the 21.1 trillion Won worth of the direct effects, and 43.8 trillion Won worth of indirect effects. In addition to this, it estimated that 32.2 trillion Won will affect the field of the sightseeing industries for 10 years following the historic event. The monies that would be invested in this project are not small at all.
It is estimated that a total of 30 trillion Won would need to be invested into this project, including 7 trillion Won for the construction of railroads, 2.2 trillion won for the construction of road systems, 9 trillion Won for KTX, 1.2 trillion won into the construction projects of the play grounds, and 2 trillion won for the projected security measures.
Furthermore, by the year 2018, our country will begin to become an aged society, with more than 14 percent of the population over 65 years of age. According to the official statistics, just around this time, the population of our country will begin to taper off.
It was recently revealed that Nakano Japan has been suffering from economic depression ever since the close of the Winter Olympics there. The city of Vancouver, too, has been in deep financial hole amounting to billions of dollars ever since its 2010 Winter Olympics.
The only successful Olympics known so far took place in Norway in the year of 1994. That was featured for its pro-environment and economic feasibility. They made temporary buildings and container boxes for the accommodation facilities for athletes. After the close of the event, most of these temporary facilities were removed, with a view to protecting the environment and freeing themselves from the problem of management expenses.
This is a far-cry from Pyeongchang, where we have to build and construct everything anew. Nonetheless, I think we need to explore the possibilities of a co-sponsorship with North Korea. It is time for us to come out of the fervor of the Olympic inducement and prepare for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics with a cold head.