South Korean TV channel MBC has come under fire for “inappropriate” captioned photos of athletes from different countries during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.
The South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that MBC showed, among other things, a picture of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl when the Olympic team of Ukraine came into the picture. The station also referred to the recent assassination of President Jovenel Moïse when Haiti’s athletes appeared on the screen.
And it didn’t stop there. An image of a pizza accompanied images of athletes from Italy, the BBC said. A picture of Dracula came to be seen among athletes from Romania. The Marshall Islands was simply described as a country that was “once a nuclear testing site for the United States”. And among the Olympians of Syria, a caption appeared that “a civil war has been raging in the country for ten years”.
The South Korean channel has since apologized on Twitter after viewers complained that the images and captions were “offensive” and “ridiculous”. Foreign media such as The New York Times and CNN also picked up on the fuss and paid attention to it. MBC explained that the intent had been to educate TV viewers about countries that may be less known in South Korea. However, MBC now realizes that it was an “unforgivable mistake”.
The TV station has promised to investigate how exactly the decision to show the images and captions came about.