NBC has been forced to apologize for a culturally insensitive remark made by of its correspondents during the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
During NBC’s broadcast on Friday, correspondent Joshua Cooper Ramo was reporting from the booth alongside hosts Mike Tirico and Katie Couric.
Tirico brought viewers’ attention to the fact that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had made the trip to South Korea for the Olympics.
Ramo believed this to be a notable topic considering the historically tense relationship between the two Asian economic powers, as South Korea was subjugated by Japan for more than three decades in the first half of the twentieth century.
NBC’s Asia correspondent asserted that South Koreans have gained respect for the country that once occupied their land.
“Now representing Japan, a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945. But every Korean will tell you that Japan as a cultural and technological and economic example has been so important to their own transformation,” Ramo said.
But Ramo’s comments backfired, with many Koreans and non-Koreans lambasting the reporter on social media.
“Your comments about Korea are absolutely rubbish. After decades of human rights violations, exploiting our resources, and attempts to destroy our heritage, Japan is nowhere close to being thanked, but absolutely despised,” one person wrote on NBC News’ Facebook, according to The Korea Times.
“NBC should have hired an unbiased and culturally sensitive commentator,” wrote a Twitter user.
— Kimmy Witt (@Kimmywitt) February 11, 2018
According to The Times, many Koreans suffered under Japanese rule from 1910-1945. They were often the victims of forced labor, torture and death, as well as rape and sexual slavery.
“His incorrect and insensitive comment about Korea’s history has enraged many of its people,” wrote Times reporter Jung Min-ho.
The network was then compelled to apologize for Ramo’s comments.
NBC Sports anchor Carolyn Manno read a statement of apology on the air Saturday morning.
“During our coverage of the Parade of Nations on Friday we said it was notable that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the trip to Korea for the Olympics, ‘representing Japan, a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945 but every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation,'” the statement said.
“We understand the Korean people were insulted by these comments and we apologize,” it continued.
Moreover, Ramo was relieved of his duties covering the Olympics, according to an NBC Sports spokesperson.
“It was possible for him to do more with us here; now it is no longer possible,” the spokesperson stated.
The network also issued a formal apology in a letter.
“NBC issued an apology in a written letter to the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, and on air, regarding the comments made by one of our presenters during our coverage of the opening ceremony,” the official told The Times.
“NBC has great respect and admiration for South Korea and its people.”
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