South Koreans were left irate when an American commentator said the unthinkable about Japan.
A commentator on NBC’s coverage of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics has been sidelined after he offended the host country during the opening ceremony.
As the Olympians entered the stadium, former journalist Joshua Cooper Ramo said “every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation”.
Considering Japan’s ruthless annexation of Korea from 1910 to 1945, and the nations’ frosty relations ever since, it unsurprisingly elicited indignation from locals.
The backlash swiftly came on social media, and a petition to force the NBC into an apology even circulated online.
One Twitter user said the statement was as bad as praising the Nazi regime for its occupations, while another pointed out Ramo was on the board of Starbucks and South Koreans should boycott the coffee house.
He is also on the board of FedEx, and works as co-CEO of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s consulting firm.
Hey, South Koreans angry about the statements from @NBC commentator Joshua Cooper Ramo – he is on the board of @Starbucks, which has its largest shop in South Korea. Let them know how you feel about his praise of Japanese colonialism! https://t.co/cO2EJXqECu pic.twitter.com/tuxOhlORHD
— Tim Shorrock (@TimothyS) February 10, 2018
nbc olympics. Very disappointed with the NBC commentator Joshua Cooper Ramo during Olympic opening ceremony. How can he make such a historically and culturally insensitive comment? “Every Korean” sure thanks Japan for colonizing the country??? How insulting!
— hixtape (@MarkLederDNFT) February 10, 2018
Dear NBC, Joshua Cooper Ramo’s comment during the opening ceremony about Korea-Japan relationship is similar to praising Nazi Germany’s accomplishments in the transformation of the Jewish culture. @NBCOlympics #Joshuacooperramo#winterolympics#nbcolympics
— catkim (@catkim3) February 10, 2018
The network quickly issued an apology to the Pyeongchang organising committee, and confirmed that Ramo would no longer feature despite being slated to provide commentary on a host of events.
“It was possible for him to do more with us here, now it is no longer possible,” an NBC official told Korea Times.
NBC anchor Carolyn Manno also read a statement on-air Sunday.
“We understand the Korean people were insulted by these comments and we apologise,” she said.
What makes the situation all the more embarrassing is that Ramo was employed because the network saw him as an expert on Asian culture and geo-political issues.