Before every edition of the Olympic Games, a theme is established. For example, the imagery and pageantry surrounding the PyeongChang Winter Olympics fit that theme — from the opening ceremony down to the official logo of the games — but rarely is there talk of how the host city fits that theme. What does PyeongChang even mean in Korean?
Does it fit the theme of the Winter Games?
Coincidentally, the 2018 Winter Olympics host city name has a meaning that perfectly suits the sporting event. PyeongChang means "peaceful flourishing" or "peaceful prosperity," writes Patrick Boehler, a China-based editor for The New York Times.
The meaning of PyeongChang correlates nicely with the official slogan of the 2018 Winter Games: "Passion. Connected." An English version of the PyeongChang Games official website explains, "Passion.Connected refers to a world in which everyone is connected with shared passion for winter sports, a world open to any generation anywhere, anytime, to open new horizons in the continued growth of winter sports."
The meaning of the South Korean city's name also happens to suit the theme of the opening ceremony, "Peace in Motion." During the ceremony, a rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" was performed by four South Korean musicians to emphasize the theme of the event.
Even the official logo of the 2018 Winter Olympics correlates with PyeongChang's meaning. According to the games' official site, "The emblem symbolises a world open to everyone. It combines the image of ice and snow, winter sports stars (athletes), and people from all over the world, coming together in PyeongChang where heaven meets earth."
The meaning of PyeongChang — a city situated in northeast South Korea and around 60 miles from the Korean peninsula's Demilitarized Zone, per ABC News — not only aligns with the stated theme of the Olympics.
The meaning also suits how the South Korean government has advertised the Olympics as an opportunity to increase friendliness within the historically unfriendly relationship shared by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the north) and the Republic of Korea (the south).
The early stages of the PyeongChang Olympics were highlighted by the presence of Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. During the opening ceremony, Kim Yo-jong sat near Vice President Mike Pence, though the two didn't interact.
After the ceremony, she attended dinner with South Korean officials, and when she returned to North Korea, her brother released a statement expressing pleasure at her visit.
"It is important to continue making good results by further livening up the warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue created by the strong desire and common will of the North and the South with the Winter Olympics as a momentum," the North Korean leader said, per The New York Times.
The idea of increased dialogue between North Korea and South Korea was publicly frowned upon by Pence, however, specifically because North Korea showed little signs of any fundamental change to its "oppressive" regime, the vice president said.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, Pence remarked before flying to South Korea for the Games,
I'm traveling to the Olympics with my wife and with our delegation certainly to cheer on American athletes, but also quite frankly we're traveling to the Olympics to make sure that North Korea doesn't use the powerful symbolism and the backdrop of the Winter Olympics to paper over the truth about their regime — a regime that oppresses its own people, a regime that threatens nations around the world, a regime that continues its headlong rush to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and uses those to threaten its neighbors and even threaten the United States of America.
Both Kim Yo-jong and Pence have since left South Korea, though. In doing so, they left behind a Winter Olympics that has advertised itself as an event all about harmony, in a city with a meaning that correlates perfectly with that theme.