Putting PyeongChang on the Map: Your Host for the 2018 Winter Olympics

It’s spelled “Pyeongchang”, but apparently, IOC officials have taken to spelling it “PyeongChang”.

CamelCase strikes!

But why?

Map from the New York Times.
Map from the New York Times.

Who knows. I suspect the reason is – even if you had the slightest memory that PyeongChang was hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2018, you might confuse it with Pyongyang in North Korea. In fact, according to this New York Times article, IOC members actually did confuse the two in the initial bid for the 2010 Winter Games.

So the host in 2018 is PyeongChang, South Korea, not PyongYang, North Korea. Having said that, PyeongChang is not far from North Korea, and a large number of its inhabitants had parents who escaped from North to South in the early 1950s, with the hopes that a resolution to the Korean War would allow them to return. Instead, they remained in the part of Korea that would continue to be one of the least developed in the country.

And yet, as time passed, Koreans appreciated more and more the winter beauty of the Gangwon Province, where Buddhist Temples and ski lifts abound. South Korean officials have been driving the vision that PyeongChang will again place South Korea on the map, completing a sporting cycle – hosting the track and field world championships, the World Cup and both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games – as well as revitalize a part of Korea that has languished economically.

While the mountain events will take place in PyeongChang proper, the indoor events will take place in Gangneung by the Eastern seaboard of Korea, about 30 kilometers away. Not only will world-class facilities be developed, a high-speed railway system is also being built to transport people between the two sporting venues in less than 30 minutes.

So remember, it’s PyeongChang, not Pyongyang, and it’s Gangneung, not Gangnam.