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NBC apologizes to Koreans for Japan comment

12 February 2018

Sports has issued an apology after a comment made by commentator Joshua Cooper Ramo during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics angered the Korean people.

However, the immediate backlash proved Ramo wrong - most Koreans did not believe that Japan was an "example" of any kind - and a petition quickly circulated, demanding that he apologize.

Japan, which colonised the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945, has left a deep legacy of mistrust and ill-feeling in South Korea.

Since making the ignorant and controversial comment, thousands took to various social media platforms to express their discomfort and anger.

Ramo introduced Japan as "a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945" and went on to say that "every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation".

What do you think of the situation?

The controversy started when analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo, who was hired to bring historical context to NBC's coverage, noted how significant Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit was. The petition was titled, "Demand apology from NBC for defending Japanese imperialism during the 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony". Petitioners said anyone familiar with Japanese treatment of Koreans during that time would be deeply hurt by Ramo's remark.

For one, the original version of Korea's unified flag, under which North and South Korean players marched under at the opening ceremony, initially included a group of small Korean islets in the East Sea, known as Dokdo in Korean, over which Japan also claims sovereignty.

Some 1,128 people had signed the petition as of Sunday afternoon. The network said that South Korea and its Olympic organizers have been "exceptional hosts in every way".

In the wake of that apology, NBC has now decided that Ramo will no longer provide on-air analysis during the rest of their Olympics coverage. The co-CEO of Kissinger Associates, Ramo shared in a Peabody and Emmy Award for his work in Beijing during the 2008 Summer Games.

NBC apologizes to Koreans for Japan comment