Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NBC apologises to Koreans after correspondent’s comment on Japanese ‘example’ at PyeongChang

NBC apologises to Koreans after correspondent’s comment on Japanese ‘example’ at PyeongChang

The NBC Sports logo. The US broadcaster has apologised over a commentators remarks cause offence during coverage of the PyeongChang Games.
The NBC Sports logo. The US broadcaster has apologised after a commentator's remarks caused offence during coverage of the PyeongChang Games.

NBC apologises to Koreans after correspondent’s comment on Japanese ‘example’ at PyeongChang

by Claire Lee

SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) - US broadcaster NBC has apologised for a controversial comment made on Korea-Japan relations during Friday’s opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Games, after receiving numerous complaints and angry posts online.

NBC’s Asian correspondent, Joshua Cooper Ramo, said “every Korean” thinks Japan has been a very “important” example to South Korea’s own achievements.

Many South Koreans, as well as Korean-Americans, found the comment insensitive to the nation’s own history, including Japan’s colonial rule from 1910-1945. The remark sparked a storm of complaints from Koreans on social media.

“Hey NBC, you forgot the Olympics were in Korea?” wrote a South Korean Twitter user. “Joshua Cooper Ramo should not speak for Koreans and obviously doesn’t know any Koreans either. Nobody will tell you we are thankful for Japan occupation and they are not an example.”

Some questioned whether Ramo has been following the news leading up to the current Olympics, as some of the disputes between South Korea and Japan erupted even during the preparation phase of the games.

A host of thorny issues complicate the bilateral relations between South Korea and Japan, including issues surrounding the “comfort women,” or Korean women used as sex slaves by the Japanese military during World War II.

The original version of Korea’s unified flag, under which North and South Korean players marched under at the opening ceremony, initially included a group of small Korean islets in the East Sea, known as Dokdo in Korean, over which Japan also claims sovereignty.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry eventually decided to remove the disputed islets from the flag, after the Japanese government strongly protested, calling the original flag “extremely regrettable” and “unacceptable.”

“Hard to think of a worse thing to say to Koreans in this political environment,” wrote Anna Fifield, the Tokyo bureau chief for the Washington Post, on Ramo’s comments during the opening ceremony.

“How can someone be an ‘Asian correspondent’ and be so clueless?” wrote a blogger based in South Korea.

Following the backlash, NBC released the following statement on Saturday:

“During our coverage of the Parade of Nations on Friday we said it was notable that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the trip to Korea for the Olympics, ‘representing Japan, a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945 but every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.’ We understand the Korean people were insulted by these comments and we apologize.”

In spite of NBC’s public apology that was broadcast live, many in South Korea and abroad said the apology was not enough, and Ramo should issue his own apology.

“NBC, ‘sorry that you felt offended’ isn’t an apology and for Joshua Cooper Ramo, he might as well say German Nazi occupancy during World War II in Europe has been so important to those European countries’ own transformations,” said a Twitter user.

An online petition was set up asking the International Olympic Committee to “take a step” against NBC so that Ramo “can truly apologize” and “stop commenting.”

“If the IOC does not act on this issue, we will consider that the IOC agrees on NBC‘s stance,” the organisers of the petition wrote in a public statement.

Some 1,128 people had signed the petition as of Sunday afternoon.

MOST VIEWED

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Vietnamese workers in Koh Kong questioned

    The General Department of Immigration (GDI) is questioning 49 Vietnamese nationals who were working illegally in Koh Kong province to build a case and send them back to Vietnam, its Department of Investigation and Procedure director Kem Sarin said on Thursday. GDI forces and provincial authorities

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to