Pyeongchang Olympics 2018 Opening Ceremony: USA Relives 'Gangnam Style,' Themes of Peace, the Tonga Flag Bearer Returns & More
The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea have officially kicked off with Friday’s (Feb. 9) luminous Opening Ceremony.
Full of intricately choreographed and technologically-advanced performances showcasing Korean tradition and culture, the night also symbolized a sense of peace and unity in a particularly tumultuous time in international relations. North and South Korea marched together in the stadium less than 50 miles from the border separating them. The two nations walked under a joint flag, a simple blue geographic outline of the combined country against a white background. The ceremony ended with a North Korean and a South Korean hockey player carrying the torch together to ultimately hand it off to South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim to light the Olympic cauldron.
Here are some more highlights from the big event.
Drones light up the sky with Olympic rings
In a pre-recorded clip, a record-setting 1,218 shooting star drones formed a snowboarder and then morphed into the Olympic rings in the sky, providing a gorgeous sight for viewers. Surprisingly, the rings shone in an icy blue instead of the traditional blue, yellow, black, green and red.
USA walks out to “Gangnam Style” – 242 athletes, the largest for winter Olympics
As the United States team walked out into the arena with their 242 athletes—the largest number in any winter Olympics—viewers got a blast from the past, as PSY's K-pop tune “Gangnam Style” blared through the speakers. The song dominated social media in the U.S. in 2012, so it was only right that the dance sensation represented the nation.
U.S.A. walked in to Gangnam Style and they’re wearing horrible gloves that I want. ---- pic.twitter.com/yi18kdXw9u— Dustin (@DustinGiebel) February 9, 2018
North and South Korea leaders come together for a historic handshake
Just minutes into the ceremony, South Korean President Moon Jae-in greeted and shook hands with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The unprecedented move was highlighted by Kim Yo Jung smiling as the first member of the North’s ruling family to visit its southern counterpart since 1953.
I hope this moment will be the first step for progress between both countries on the Korean peninsula. #Handshake Moon Jae-in ---- and Kim Yo-jong ---- 9th of February 2018. Switzerland will support this process.#PyeongChang2018 #Olympics pic.twitter.com/j2MllAlqJS— Christian Wasserfallen (@cwasi) February 9, 2018
Korean musical artists come together to perform John Lennon’s “Imagine”
The theme of harmony continued deep into the ceremony, as four of Korea’s musicians performed Lennon’s classic song. Korean folk singer Jeon In-kwon, indie rock singer Ha Hyun-woo, Lee Eun Mi and K-pop star Ahn Ji Young. The group stood in a spotlight, surrounded by dancers standing in a shape of a dove holding lanterns. Images of doves, which symbolize peace, were projected on the walls of the stadium.
Tonga’s flag bearer who went viral at Rio Olympics shows up again—oily and shirtless in the coldest winter Olympics in more than 20 years
Taekwondo practitioner Pita Taufatofua wasn’t at all shaken by the 28-degree weather in Pyeongchang. The athlete went viral in 2016 after carrying his country’s flag shirtless and oiled up. He picked up cross-country skiing just last year in an attempt to achieve his dream of attending the winter Olympics, even though he had never seen snow before in his life. “I won’t freeze. I am from Tonga,” he told the ABC news, “We sailed across the Pacific. This is nothing.”