Ever since the Olympics started fresh after World War I, there has always been some sort of opening day ceremony. That year, 1920, introduced the five interlocking rings, with the colors representing colors that were on all 29 participating country's flags, and the Athlete's Oath, which competitors still take today. But the ceremonies themselves were nothing like the extravaganzas we're accustomed to today. Now, countries spent years and millions of dollars putting together performances for the ages. So who are the 2018 Olympics opening ceremony performers this year in PyeongChang? And what sort of amazing stage show can we expect them to put on?
Like most anticipated entertainment events, the Olympic planners do their best to keep those who will be performing, and the details of the show itself, under wraps as best they can. Spoilers do leak out though, as a stage show of this magnitude and global importance is impossible to keep on complete lockdown.
But even before we know who will be on stage, we already have a good idea of the sort of acts featured. One of the major components of any opening ceremony is the change for the country in question to show off their culture. That's why the London Games featured music of The Beatles and David Bowie, and performances by the reunited Spice Girls. And if we're going to South Korea, that means we're going to the land of K-Pop.
Reports already surfaced before the show that Ahn Ji Young, better known as one half of female K-Pop duo Bolbbalgan4, would be part of the show.
The indie pop star will collaborate with the iconic Korean rock band Deulgookhwa, fronted by lead singer Jeon In Kwon.
From the non-K-pop South Korean music scene, from the indie rock band Guckkasten, Ha Hyun Woo performed as well. They joined together to do a half Korean/half English version of the famous John Lennon song "Imagine."
Also performing, an opera singer who was originally reported to be Sumi Jo, but actually turned out to be Su-Mi Hwang. She did the Greek lyrics of the Olympic anthem in a gorgeous traditional South Korean gown.
One performance that was all but confirmed before the show, but then didn't actually happen live: Insooni, who is one of South Korea’s biggest R&B divas, sang the official song of this year's games, entitled "Let Everyone Shine". Kim Dae-hyun, PyeongChang 2018 Director General of Culture and Ceremonies, described it thusly:
Insooni’s performance tonight of‘Let Everyone Shine’ was a great way to launch the theme that will unite the nation and help share the Olympic spirit, as the Olympic flame makes its way across Korea from 1 November this year. She sang it with great passion and connected with the crowd celebrating the 200-days-to-go milestone of the Olympic Winter Games.
As for what the theme of the opening ceremony show entailed? Director Yang Jung Woong described it as a "fairy tale in the winter. It's a fantasy, which children see as a dream." The five innocent wide-eyed children, each dressed in a color of the Olympic rings, were our guides through a spectacular stage production full of puppets, amazing lighting and projections, and a well crafted stage show that even included the athletes themselves at points.
The last time South Korea hosted the Olympic Games was back in 1988 when they hosted the Summer Games in the capital city of Seoul. The PyeongChang 2018 Games is notable because it will feature South Korea and North Korea participating under a unified Korean flag for the first time since 2006.
The opening ceremony will air on time delay on Friday evening, Feb. 9, in prime time, at 8 p.m. ET, with hosts Katie Couric and Mike Tirico on NBC.
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics will air live starting February 8.