| A few days from now, the new year will come around. In 2022, many events have brought many changes to Korea. There have been many big incidents such as the presidential election where the nation's leader changed and heavy rain, and typhoons. Let's look back on what happened in this year and enjoy the rest of the day.
Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics (2022.02.04~2022.02.20)
The Beijing Winter Olympics held in February this year made many people feel joy, anger, sorrow, and pleasure. There was a controversy over China's ‘cultural fair’ from the opening ceremony, and there were also some issues in bias judgments and Russian athletes’ doping problems. Some broadcasters boycotted Russian figure skaters’ stages. The public’s negative opinion and criticism poured into the Winter Olympics. However, there were many moments of joy and pleasure. The scene which a Russian player hugged a Ukrainian player from behind, and the interview and commentary by commentator Lee Sang-Hwa and a Japanese player Kodaira, who were called long-time rivals, moved many viewers. Hwang Dae-Heon, who won Korea's first gold medal in this Olympics at the 1,500m event after overcoming the biased judgment in the short track, brought thrilling joy to many people.
China's 'cultural appropriation' from the beginning of the Olympics
On February 4, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics was held. What caught Korean viewers' eyes was none other than the attire of one particular performer. A woman wearing a traditional Korean dress called ‘hanbok’ was carrying the Chinese national flag as one of the representatives of 56 recognized ethnic groups in the country. This caused controversy over 'cultural appropriation'. Some media outlets argued that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea should criticize China's attitude. The controversy brought back China's past of calling kimchi ‘Paocai’. Even before the opening ceremony, there were diplomatic boycotts from the U.S. and Britain. China suppressed minority human rights while preparing for the Olympics. For this reason, government officials from the countries were not present.
Short-track bias, “Take all the medals to China!”
The most annoying thing during the Winter Olympics would be the biased judgment in the men's 1,000-meter short-track speed skating event. Korean contenders, Hwang Dae-Heon and Lee Jun-SEO, were disqualified due to suspicious decisions and the Chinese players advanced to the final match. In addition, Park Jang-Hyeok was injured in an accident by a Chinese athlete. As these incidents occurred, the people were outraged, and a lot of people wrote posts about the short-track biased judgment on social media. “Just let the host country China take all the medals,” declared an article in the Seoul Sinmun newspaper, which began by repeating that sentence 11 times. SBS, a major South Korean broadcaster, aired a segment titled, Top 10 Worst Moments of Cheating by China, featuring past incidents involving Chinese athletes. The article came on the main page of the website (NAVER). However, this article was deleted immediately but the impact was so huge that the Seoul Shinmun homepage server stopped. There was criticism that this article was against journalism, but this article, which gained a lot of sympathy in a short time, shows how angry the people were.
Commentary that has comforted many people
Snowboard KBS Commentator Park Jae-min became a hot topic on social media and showed a commentary that people fell in love with enough to go out on an entertainment program due to his commentary. In the women's parallel Giant Slalom, when Gloria Kotnik, a Slovenian athlete who retired due to childbirth and returned to play, won the bronze medal, commentator Park Jae-min congratulated them, saying, "Hurray! Give it up for all mothers across the country." He continued, “Aren’t there some things that many mothers in Korea have to give up such as their careers after giving birth? You can start now. It is not too late,” his comment comforted many people. When the snowboarding commentary was over and the medal winners and those who did not shared hugs, he said, "It's a time when a lot of fights and misunderstandings come and go. Sports is the Olympics, where they should accept the results they received because they did their best, and we should support and congratulate others if they do well,” he emphasized the spirit of sports. Commissioner Park's video uploaded to the KBS YouTube channel had high ratings, and people praised it, saying, "I've never watched the snowboarding competition to listen to the commentary before."
Lee Sang-Hwa and Kodaira’s intense friendship
Lee Sang-Hwa has gone into the broadcasting booth following her retirement from competition. She burst into tears while broadcasting Japanese athlete Kodaira's 500m speed skating game. At times they had been considered as rivals and friends. Kodaira looked for Lee sitting in the commentator spot and said “Hi Sang-Hwa, how are you? I missed you” in Korean. Viewers who watched the commentary and interviews were impressed by their friendship that transcended Korea-Japan relations and show what the Olympic spirit is. Their friendship gave people a warm impression.
2022 South Korea 20th presidential election (2022.03.10)
The People Power Party’s Yoon Suk-Yeol confirmed his place as South Korea's 20th president. This election was an all-time tight race, and it was a memorable election for many people with the highest pre-voting record.
The rules around voting were changed to let people infected with COVID-19 cast their ballots in polling stations, as the omicron surge places record numbers of people under self-quarantine. The voting time was changed, one and a half hours of extra time was added for infected people. The results of the presidential election were unknown even after midnight. Yoon Suk-Yeol and Lee Jae-Myung of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) were neck-and-neck in exits polls, making a victor too close to call until nearly all the votes were tallied around 4 a.m.
The pre-voting rate for the 20th presidential election also reached the highest rate of 36.93%. According to the National Election Commission, 34,464 polling stations across the country as of 7:30 p.m., the official end of the vote, estimated that 34.059,714 out of the 44.197,692 electors participated in the vote. There were many voices of concern about the turnout due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was 0.1% points lower than the final turnout in the 19th presidential election in 2017.
Some policies are changing due to the People Power Party's Yoon Suk-Yeol becoming the president. Yoon Suk-Yeol pledged to ‘cancel nuclear power plants and build the strongest country in nuclear power plants.’ The transition of new and renewable energy, which the Moon administration had aggressively promoted by laying solar panels on mountains, fields, and buildings across the country, is also expected to control the speed. In addition, a system called ‘parents’ benefit’ will be implemented in 2023 to increase the birth rate. It is not yet announced but the Yoon Suk-Yeol government has also proposed a policy to provide financial support to families raising children regardless of their parent's personal property and income. This policy will start in 2023 and will gradually expand. In addition, from the beginning of next year, the way Koreans count ages will change to an international way of counting. People are considered one year old at birth and this is called the Korean age calculating system. The international counting system is that age is calculated by an individual's birthday and the first birthday is celebrated 365 days after birth. As such, many policies are changing due to the newly implemented government, so I want you to look up these policies.
Record-breaking 'heavy rain' and typhoon 'Hinnamnor', the most in 115 years
This year the rainy season was unusually long and heavy rains and many casualties resulted from the typhoon and rain. This event brought the problem of the demolition of the semi-basement. The rain broke a 115 year record and flooded the South Korean capital and the surrounding area, eleven people were dead and eight people were missing in three days. The city presents a spectacle of desolation. Many motorists stranded in rising flood waters ditched their vehicles in the middle of roads. In less than two months, Typhoon Hinnamnor came and the sad news was reported from Pohang. Eight people died in an apartment's underground parking lot, and one person died in Gyeongju due to the landslide.
The tragedy has renewed attention to income inequality and the dangers of living in semi-underground flats which are known for cheap rents and poor living conditions. The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced safety measures for basement and semi-basement households on August 10 and decided to consult with the government to completely prohibit the use of basement and semi-basement residential purposes. As of 2020, about 5% of all households live in basements and semi-basement in downtown Seoul. For safety, prohibiting basements and semi-basement for residential is needed. However, it is necessary to prepare countermeasures and support funds for the vulnerable social group and households living there.
The worst frozen-up situation
Due to the fire at the building of SK C&C located in Pangyo on October 15th login error occurred at the country's top mobile messenger, KakaoTalk. The building also houses the data centers for Naver and Kakao. People thought it would be soon restored but the service recovered only after midnight. Now, this frozen situation has remained the biggest obstacle in Kakoatalk’s history. The blaze broke out at around 3:30 p.m. other service failures were also reported at Kakao's online payment unit Kakao Pay Corp. and its gaming platform Kakao Games. Naver also said a partial disruption was reported at its shopping services, including Shopping Live.
Because the building houses the data centers for Kakao and Naver. Victims also occurred, which showed that Kakao services in Korea accounted for a really large part of Koreans' lives. Also, there was a lot of damage due to this situation, and the important assignment for Kakao will be their attitude towards users.
At the end of 2022, let's appreciate this year that has passed without any major accidents. Why don't we take a moment to look back on how 2022 was with this article? I hope warm and good news reporting more than bad news. Be kind to yourself, hoping you have a 2023 year where you can grow one more step.
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