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This Korean Channel Lowkey Trolled Every Country in the Olympics, And It's Pretty Depressing

Crying through the laughter.
IMAGE MBC
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In case you missed it, South Korean broadcaster MBC found itself in hot water after its problematic coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony.

When the ceremony introduced each country’s competitors, MBC made sure to accompany the coverage with a few choice descriptions in a quick “explainer” of each country. Suffice to say, Norwegians didn’t take too kindly to being described as being known for salmon and Italians weren’t too happy with the random reference to pizza.

It was all fun and games for a while—hell, Romania was introduced alongside a picture of Dracula—but then things took a dark turn when Haiti came on the screen with a note about the country’s recent presidential assassination, and then Ukraine’s intro referenced... Chernobyl, which killed 50 people and caused over 4,000 radiation-related deaths. 

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. The Syrian athletes went on screen and their country was described as having a civil war for over 10 years. El Salvadorians got a reference to Bitcoin. But the pièce de résistance of this entire fiasco? When the Marshall Islands were described as a former “nuclear test site for the U.S.”

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And that wraps up MBC’s random and completely non-sports-related facts for the day!

We’re a little reluctant to even know what they wrote about the Philippines. We have way too much dirty laundry to air on international television, and we'd prefer to keep those skeletons in the closet, thank you. 

“National disgrace” soon trended in South Korea after Koreans went rabid over the inappropriate Olympic commentary. Once the screenshots were translated, the rest of the world got in on it, infuriated over the "racist" and "stereotypical" portrayals of their cultures.

MBC eventually apologized, in Korean and English, going so far as to publish its English apology on the front page of its website. The network was so ashamed by the actions of whoever handled the coverage that the company’s president Park Sung-je bowed his head in apology during a press conference and even apologized directly to the embassies of Ukraine and Romania.

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What a mess. But, hey, at least it got them page views? 

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Anri Ichimura
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