By Kang Hyun-kyung
PyeongChang’s victory Wednesday in its third successive bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games will likely help upgrade Korea’s brand image overseas, according to analysts.
The drama surrounding the vote in Durban, South Africa, has spurred a media frenzy here focusing on the so-called “PyeongChang Effect.”
Lee Dong-hun, a senior fellow of the Samsung Economic Research Institute in Seoul, predicted that hosting the Winter Games will help polish the national image in the international community.
He noted that PyeongChang, a mountainous town in Gangwon Province, won the bid to host the Winter Olympic Games by outmaneuvering two European cities — Germany’s Munich and France’s Annecy — by a wide margin.
“In Europeans’ minds, Korea could be simply perceived as a country with a strong high-tech and information technology industry,” he said. “Coupled with the K-pop popularity in some countries there, Korea’s media exposure as a nation hosting the global winter sports event will help give Europeans a positive perception.”
Unlike the Summer Olympics, the Winter Games are the playground for European and North American nations.
Brand experts say winter sports are often portrayed as up-market ones as those who enjoy them are higher income earners.
Therefore, they said Korea’s hosting of the 2018 Winter Olympics will help the nation raise its global profile as it will be seen as a country that can afford to finance all amenities and facilities needed to host the event.
Following Japan, Korea is the only other Asian country that will host the Winter Olympics. Previously, only countries in North America and Europe hosted the winter sports competition, with no chances for countries in Africa or Latin America.
In a report on the economic effect of hosting the 2018 Games, the Hyundai Economic Research Institute projected that nearly 230,000 jobs will be created and approximately 390,000 winter sports fans will visit Pyeongchang during the event.
The institute said the direct and indirect economic benefits combined will be worth approximately 65 trillion won.
According to the report, investments in venues, roads and other transport infrastructure, and hotels will take place.
International and domestic tourists will spend approximately 1.2 trillion won during their stay in PyeongChang on food and hotels and other amenities.
The report said the media exposure of the city during the event period will help the city promote tourism after the Olympic Games.
The Korean economy has benefitted from the major international sports events, such as the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and the 2002 World Cup.
In 1985, Korea’s annual exports reached approximately $30 billion, but they more than doubled after the Summer Olympics in 1988.
Despite the rosy prospects for the Winter Games economic effect, Lee of SERI warned of the danger of too rosy prospects for an economic effect.
“There remain realistic problems that need to be deeply considered. Policymakers will face the pressure to reuse the facilities, amenities and accommodation after the Olympics,” he said. “Otherwise, these will become a headache to the local economy.”