From stadiums to “Anna Karenina”: how South Korea is preparing for the Olympics-2018

The sporting community, and just people who are not indifferent to the sport continue to nervous waiting for the decision of the IOC about the possibility of participation of Russian Olympians at the Winter Games in 2018, which is less than three months will open in South Korea’s Pyeongchang. The journalist “MK” went to the Korean Peninsula to observe the preparations for the Olympics.

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“You get some sleep in advance, so the play not to fall asleep!”, – joked my wife, knowing that the program of my stay in Seoul included the ballet “Anna Karenina”.

I confess ballet do not like and consider it “harmful art” – so that concerns about the yawning during the presentation I really was. But! What he saw did not leave the slightest gap for boredom – it was really magic, world class shows. Two hours continuously I was watching the scene, and then hands were numb from the most sincere applause.

Hoping for a successful Olympic Winter games in 2018 in Pyeongchang, we as the most well-known ballet is preparing to present “Anna Karenina” – says the artistic Director of the Korean national ballet, a famous ballerina Kang soo Jin. – This play based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy and set the art Director of the Zurich ballet in Switzerland Christian Spocom…

On the table in front of this exquisite woman standing plush tiger, bear and Saharan, Panjabi – cute mascots of the upcoming Games. They these days in the Republic of Korea, it seems, everywhere but here in the theater, they look more than appropriate.

I’d like to hope that Russian athletes will compete at the Games in Pyeongchang under the flag of Russia and get medals for our national anthem. But even if it will not, without the Russian presence is still at the Olympics will not do, because “Anna Karenina” – a kind of “Olympic ballet”, it will show in the framework of the “cultural Olympiad” in Korea in February.

Ballet based on Tolstoy’s novel was chosen not by chance, it would be logical that the cultural part of the Olympics was represented by the statement, based on the work of Korean culture. And still felt that viewers from around the world will be more interesting to see the story of love and jealousy, understandable to everyone.

Even those who do not understand ballet should enjoy the performance, so we chose “Anna Karenina,” says Kang soo Jin.

I’m not an expert and not a fan of ballet. But I’ll try to explain why “Anna Karenina” pierced the armor of my dislike of ballet. This performance has many components – a very interesting production of a great romance, a wonderful Korean dancers, who are forced to believe that on the stage of experiencing your true novel Karenina and Vronsky.

And another fine music – mainly, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and the pole Witold lutosławski and two representatives of Soviet Georgia – Joseph Bardanashvili and Sulkhan Tsintsadze. And great singing – Yes, during the performance a few times on the scene the singer sings Russian romances: “do Not sing, my beauty, with me you songs Georgia…”

And what the performers costumes! And scenery! There is even a train – stretched on a white screen. And who can forget Levine rolling around the stage on a Bicycle your kitty? Or a scene of peasant labor “a La Russe”?

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Closely connected with Russian history and the city of Inchon where began a hundred-day run with the Olympic torch in the South of the Korean Peninsula. In the last century this city was known as Chemulpo, where in 1904 the cruiser “Varyag” and the gunboat “Korean” gave battle to the Japanese squadron of rear Admiral Uriu, Soliciti. “The enemy does not surrender our proud Varyag” – it was here in Incheon, while sea, and now and air gates of Seoul.

And then a symbol of Russian military glory Incheon left a mark in American military history. During the Korean war it was here that General MacArthur landed behind the North Koreans Marines, which helped to turn the tide and repel the enemy in Seoul.

But not about the bloody battles of the past thought when I have not open the new terminal at Incheon international airport were taken from Greece the Olympic flame. And he is, after all, a symbol of hope, harmony and peace. Given the difficult situation on the Peninsula extremely important.

Lit in the temple of Hera in ancient Olympia, the flame was air-freighted to Korea – drove it with all precautions. After all, the journey from Athens to Seoul amounted to 8500 km! In a special transparent container was placed two resembling a lamp capsule, which glowed with the flame of the Olympic games-2018.

Of itching to the makeshift stage erected on the airfield, the plane, the head of the organizing Committee Pyeongchang-2018 Mr. Lee Hee-Beom and famous figure skater, winner of the Vancouver gold and Sochi silver 27-year-old Kim made one of these capsules.

From a small spark right here in the airport sparked the flame of the Olympic torch – he had to travel a long way (and still – to 9 February time) across the country, will be held before the opening ceremony of the Winter Games.

Yu Yong is only thirteen years old – but she’s already called hope for the South Korean figure skating. In the age of eleven she became the youngest ever champion of the country (the same as Kim did when she was 12 years old). And she is honored to begin the Olympic torch relay on Ingescom bridge that connects the airport with the capital.

2018 miles, 9 provinces, 8 major cities, 151 district – this path should cover the Olympic torch: buses and planes, ships and trains… And it will move to Korea with bike, cable car, robot. Well, of course, on foot – the move-fire selected 7500 runners and 2018 members of the support team.

Snow-white Olympic torch is not only a work of art by artist Kim Yong Xie (a torch, though minimalistic, at the same time full of deep symbolism). It is also the fruit of engineering, because the task is not to let the fire go out. And in winter in Gangwon province, where Pyeongchang is located, is quite windy. Again, there is no guarantee of the absence of precipitation. So I had to look at everything. Special air tunnel in the torch allows you to fuel the flame with oxygen. Pentagonal hole in the bottom of the torch helps to remove water if it is raining. Provides for protection of fire from the snow and wind.

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And in the Pyeongchang arrival small – height 70 cm – torch expect torch huge. It will light on 9 February during the launch of the Games in 2018. White woven construction of the five columns, covered from time to time the case, stands next to the Olympic stadium. It is here that soon will take place the ceremony of opening and closing of the Olympics and Paralympics.

The stadium has the shape of a Pentagon (supporters of the conspiracy can see the analogy with Pentagon shape and to make far-reaching conclusions, but we will not go into these wilds – remember the Golden words: “O sport, you are peace!”) and calculated on 35 thousand places. The construction is temporary, after the Games its going to be demolished and the cost is estimated at 86 billion won (about $78 million).

I really want at this stage carried a Russian flag. And all Korean interlocutors said that without the participation of the team Russia Olympics will be “wrong”…

It may take a few tens of days and this stadium will be broadcast to the whole world historical footage of the beginning of the Winter Olympics, from those who want to be among those who will see firsthand the festive extravaganza will not be a release. Well, while along the spectator seats go wipe them with rags, cleaners. And workers in hard hats stacked boards at a future stage.

How often in anticipation of some Competitions in the past years I had to hear what the sports facilities are not ready, and the Game time is nothing. So, in Korea, it seems, everything is going according to plan. In mid-October availability for the Games was estimated more than 99%. The same stadium is ready to open almost entirely – remains to bring to mind some touches.

A sense of readiness cause and seen as a Park for ski jumping in the famous ski resort of Alpensia (the name comes from a combination of the words “Alps” and “Asia”). It is here that the main focus of competition venues in the mountain cluster.

But there is also a coastal cluster in Gangneung, on the coast – here at indoor arenas and stadiums will host competitions in Curling, speed skating, hockey, short track and figure skating.

…Careful not to slip, go out on the ice hockey stadium – the bleachers are empty, just head over to establish working electricity and lighting. But because me with a couple of my colleagues politely asked to leave the ice – away from sin.

Here in Gangneung built and the Olympic village – apartment buildings reminiscent of the Moscow new buildings. The participants of the Olympiad will settle here in the apartments for several people. All modestly, without too much bling – bedrooms 2-3 beds, living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms. But the views are good. Get out on the roof of the skyscraper: go see the sea here – the forest-covered mountains, the beauty! And most importantly – to the sports facilities on the doorstep, in Gangneung, which in Pyeongchang.

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And here I am again in Seoul – here just under the Windows of my hotel noisy songs and dances, the festival kimchi. Spicy fermented cabbage, radish and other vegetables, which have a weakness and many Russians is not just a pillar of the national cuisine as an integral part of Korean culture. As you know, several years ago, the tradition of cooking the kimchi was included in the list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO. It is hardly possible to imagine a Korean meal without plachecki-another kimchi. And in General the country has done much to preserve and popularize the national cuisine, which the Koreans are proud to consider not only the tastiest but also the healthiest.

So going to a meeting with the chief specialist on nutrition of the Korean national training center Mrs. Jo Sohn Sook, I was sure I will hear how athletes are fed extremely useful local cuisine – like chicken soup with ginseng, bulgogi (grilled thinly sliced meat), noodle-kuksu, seafood. And of course, where do without it – kimchi!

But no! Mrs. Jo, thirty years working as a sports nutritionist sitting in the dining room for athletes, says that her tastes are changing wards: “That’s before our athletes without kimchi could not do. Now tastes more and more affected by globalization. So When I first started working, I was trying to introduce Korean athletes with a European menu”. Not immediately, but gradually sports youth accustomed to Western dishes. However, from the national culinary traditions are also not refuse, just here trying to strike a balance between Korean and European-American kitchen.

By the way, achievements of the Russian-Soviet school of sports nutrition is also used in Seoul. “A very vivid impression of the lecture of the Vice-Chancellor of sports University of Leningrad, read them in Korea in the early nineties, – says Mrs. Jo. – And after the past decade of his recipes for energy recovery of athletes after a hard competition to remain relevant.” It was, for example, about the combination of egg yolk, olive oil, white wine and wheat.

And what about kimchi? Our interlocutor says that by itself, this traditional snack is not helping improve athletic ability – but it brings pleasure and supports the health in the long term. So without kimchi did. Where to go, because even when photographing Koreans shouting “Chi-and-out!”, a “Kimchi!”

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“You can take pictures only in those places where certificates will say,” warning during a tour of the residence of the President of the Republic of Korea. What a pity! The views are simply amazing, smooth lawns, picturesque groups of trees, hands reach to the camera but not.

But people too can understand – security requirements, especially when it comes to No. 1, has not been canceled. Moreover, the “Blue house” (as it is in South Korea’s presidential residence) was already in January 1968, the witness RAID by North Korean special ops who tried to kill then-South Korean President Park Chung-Hee. Saboteurs were stopped a few hundred meters from the Palace for verification of documents. In the ensuing firefight killed dozens of people, including almost all the attackers. Pak Chung-Hee was not injured, but 11 years later he was shot by the Director of the Central intelligence Agency of South Korea.

See photo essay on the topic:

South Korea is preparing for the Olympics 2018: will show the ballet “Anna Karenina”

24 photos

Here about these grimaces of history brings to mind a visit to the “Blue house”. However, now the presidential residence looks idyllic. Its name comes from the color adorning the roof tiles (though it is rather blue, not the blue color). The main building, in traditional style, and asks for a picture – and after receiving permission, we give vent to his photographic inclinations.

When the tour of the residence came to an end, “flew” surprise, “Wait a minute here now, perhaps you will meet Mr. President.” And it is true: at the other end of the huge lawn seemed to the head of state, surrounded by retinue.

64-year-old moon Jae-In has become the South Korean President recently, in may of this year. The son of refugees, a former special forces paratrooper, he chose the path of a defender. In the “Blue house” it was on the wave of the “revolution of candles” forced to resign suspected corruption President Park Geun-Hye (daughter of the above, Park Chung-Hee).

“I will be President, talking to the people – promised moon Jae-In in his inaugural address. And I must say that his openness, sociability and humility has made us, the participants of that unexpected meeting on the lawn, a considerable impression. I do not remember, because of the solemnity of the moment, cried if we “Kimchi!”, but a selfie with the head of the Republic of Korea was a success.

The South Korean President said that he hopes that the Olympics 2018 will be held in a dignified manner. And expressed the hope that it will not prevent any political storm – not a secret that many are concerned about the neighborhood’s venue of Winter Games with the unpredictable North Korean Peninsula. Moreover, moon Jae-In said that he hoped for a visit to Pehchan North Korean Olympians.

Well and from myself I want to add: I hope that our athletes will also come to the Olympics 2018…

Seoul-Pyeongchang-Gun Incheon-Moscow

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