The official mascots for the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) have been created. A white tiger named “Soohorang” and an Asiatic black bear named “Bandabi” will each represent the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Both animals appear in Korea’s foundation mythology and are closely associated with Korean culture and folklore.
The mascots were confirmed finally after the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee's presentation of the Olympic mascot to the IOC Executive Board held on June 2 in Lausanne and the IPC's prior approval of the Paralympic mascot.
Tigers traditionally represent the shape of the Korean peninsula, and especially the white tiger is considered a sacred guardian animal. Its color is also indicative of the snow and ice of winter sports. The name “Soohorang” is a combination of several meanings in the Korean language. “Sooho” is the Korean word for “protection,” meaning that it protects the athletes, spectators and all participants of the Olympic Games. “Rang” comes from the middle letter of “ho-rang-i,” which means “tiger,” and also from the last letter of “Jeongseon Arirang,” a traditional folk music of Gangwon Province, where the host city is located.
The bear is symbolic of strong will and courage. The Asiatic Black Bear is also the symbol animal of Gangwon Province. In the name “Bandabi,” “banda” comes from “bandal” meaning “half-moon”, indicating the white crescent on the chest of the Asiatic Black Bear, and “bi” has the meaning of celebrating the Games.
The mascots are designed to express a wide spectrum of emotions such as passion, joy, enthusiasm and love to actively engage the public. This type of design reflects Korea’s unique contemporary cultural trend of using visual characters to express emotions. Anyone and everyone will be able to use the mascots across a multiple choice of digital platforms and promote the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games through interactive communication.
POCOG President LEE Hee-beom stated, “The mascots have been designed to embody the collective will of everyone for the successful hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2018, and experts of various fields contributed in the process. The mascots will now spearhead our communication activities and marketing initiatives. With today’s meaningful step forward, POCOG will use the momentum to gain more public support and excitement for the Games.”
Welcoming “Soohorang,” Gunilla Lindberg, Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, commented, “The white tiger is a great choice for mascot. It’s a beautiful animal, strongly associated with Korean culture. It also symbolises the close link between the Olympic Winter Games and the natural environment. I congratulate the PyeongChang 2018 team on their selection. I’m sure the new mascot will be very popular with Koreans and people around the world.”
Sir Philip Craven, IPC President, said, “I am delighted to welcome ‘Bandabi’ to the Paralympic Family of mascots. Over the coming months ‘Bandabi’ will represent the spirit of the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games and help to convey the Paralympic vison and values to millions of people all around the world.”
“Paralympic mascots are iconic and essential parts of any Games. Like the Paralympians who will compete at PyeongChang 2018, bears are strong, courageous and determined creatures who make the most of their surroundings. Bears are also seen as friendly and cuddly, and I am excited to see how ‘Bandabi’ interacts with the public between now and the Games,” he added.
Following this announcement, POCOG will hold launching ceremonies in July to introduce “Soohorang” and “Bandabi” at Seoul and PyeongChang. The mascots will make their international debut at the PyeongChang 2018 House during the Rio Games in August and September and continue their busy schedule by traveling all around Korea attending many events and exhibitions.