The Parade of Nations are usually a time for people to test their Geography skills (or lack thereof) and to maybe learn a thing or two about each of the 205 nations participating at the Olympics.
For South Korea broadcaster MBC, they went in a direction where their production was filled with cultural stereotypes and at times relying on a nation’s most tragic moments as athletes filed into the Japan National Stadium. MBC has since apologized for their actions.
We apologize to the countries concerned and our viewers. It is an inexcusable mistake. Again, we are deeply sorry and regretful for the mistake.
July 24, 2021
— withMBC (@withMBC) July 24, 2021
According to CNN, some bits of info felt out of place for a broadcast of the Parade of Nations while other times, like showing a picture of Dracula to represent Romania, MBC went full stereotype on a nation. The Korea Times noted that MBC also had basic factual errors throughout the broadcast.
Some examples include:
Chile: An image of the “Routes of Santiago de Composte,” which is actually in Spain.
El Salvador: A picture consisting of Bitcoin because El Salvador recently allowed the cryptocurrency to be a legal tender.
Haiti: An image of rioting and a caption that read, “The political situation is fogged by the assassination of the president.” President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on July 7.
Italy: An image of pizza.
Marshall Islands: A caption that read, “Once a nuclear test site for the US.”
Micronesia: An image of the Atlantic Ocean. Micronesia is located in the Pacific Ocean.
Norway: An image of salmon fillet.
Syria: A caption that read, “Rich underground resources; a civil war that has been going on for 10 years.”
Ukraine: An image of the Chernobyl disaster.
South Korean broadcaster MBC used images to "represent" each country during the #Tokyo2020 Opening Ceremony.
Ukraine: Chernobyl pic.twitter.com/KpUXATuZld
— Raphael Rashid (@koryodynasty) July 23, 2021
As for what MBC did for South Korea, they posted three graphics and it wasn’t as bad as the others.
The first picture is that of Gyeongbokgung (aka Gyeongbok Palace) – the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty.
The second picture is that of BTS.
The third picture is that of Admiral Yi Sun-shin.
— John Lee (@koreanforeigner) July 25, 2021
Along with a potential worry about this hurting South Korea’s reputation throughout the world, some from the country made note that it wouldn’t have been nice if a foreign broadcaster did that toward them. Hopefully, those around the world realize that MBC doesn’t represent everyone in South Korea just like how (insert news outlet) doesn’t represent everyone in the United States.
Every country has a tired stereotype or something from their past (or present in some cases) that they’re not proud of. With the appropriate nuance, a tidbit about how El Salvador now has Bitcoin as legal tender or how Ukraine got through the Chernobyl disaster might be the dash of salt that completes a broadcast. Overly relying on Google to come up with the most basic things about each country and acting like a certain food or a tragedy is all that a country is known for doesn’t really teach anybody anything.