'Pizza' for Italy & 'Chernobyl' for Ukraine: Korean TV apologises for images introducing countries in Olympics

Netizens were left angry and confused.

Kayla Wong | July 24, 2021, 04:09 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates: https://t.me/mothershipsg

One of the biggest TV stations in South Korea, Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (Cultural Broadcasting Corporation), has issued an apology for its misuse of images to introduce the various countries that are taking part in the Olympics.

Offensive and inappropriate images representing whole countries

Besides using pizza to introduce Italy and salmon for Norway, the broadcaster used images of the ongoing protests to describe Haiti, Chernobyl to describe Ukraine, bitcoin to describe El Salvador, and Dracula for Romania.

The images were flashed on the screen during the Parade of Nations segment on Friday night (July 23), where athletes from the various participating countries entered the Tokyo Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony.

The TV station attached captions that supposedly describe the countries as well.

According to Seoul-based freelance journalist, Raphael Rashid, the text for Haiti when its athletes entered the stadium read,"The political situation is fogged by the assassination of the president."

As for Syria, the caption read, "Rich underground resources; a civil war that has been going on for 10 years."

For Marshall Islands, the broadcaster said it was "once a nuclear test site for the U.S., and is composed of more than 1,200 islands".

Rashid also pointed out that MBC made a typo in its description for Sweden, saying "cow blood soup" instead of "developed country".

In addition, the broadcaster had also included information such as the GDP and vaccination rate for each country, which left netizens feeling perplexed.

The unfortunate episode led South Korean netizens to call MBC out on social media, prompting the hashtag "national disgrace" to trend on the country's Twitter space.

Apologised for "inexcusable mistake"

Following the backlash, MBC issued an apology for the "inappropriate photos" used when "introducing countries like Ukraine and Haiti", as well as the "inappropriate photos and subtitles" used for "other countries".

MBC also apologised for making Chernobyl the representative image of Ukraine, and said it is "deeply sorry" for the "inexcusable mistake".

Top image via Raphael Rashid/Twitter