South Koreans were left irate when an American commentator said the unthinkable about Japan.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on February 12, 2018

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 response

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.

NBC apologises

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.