As the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games come closer to 3 years ahead, the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games is moving fast to take a variety of actions for preparation of the Olympic Winter Games along with 3 major venues, Pyeongchang, Gangneung and Jeongseon. Being the largest city nearest to Pyeongchang, Gangneung will serve as the main venue for ice sports in the Olympic Games, while Pyeongchang and Jeongseon will serve as venues for snow sports and alpine ski games, respectively. In addition to ice sports facilities, Gangneung will also provide transportation, lodging facilities, culture and tourism to participants and audience of the sports games.
Ice sports to be held in Gangneung include speed skating, figure skating, short track, ice hockey and curling. In conjunction with the Gangwon-do provincial government, the Gangneung city authority is constructing 5 new stadiums around the existing Gangneung Sports Complex. Construction projects of these facilities are scheduled to be completed by October 2016, investing a total of 446.5 billion won (approximately $410 million). As test events, a world championship of ice sports will be held that these new facilities, starting in February 2017.
In addition to sports facilities, an Olympic art center, which is essential for culture Olympics, will be built by 2017 with a budget of 50.9 billion won (approximately $46.7 million). With total floor space of 14,000 square meters, the 4-story (1 story underground and 3 stories above ground) art center will be designed to have 1,000~1,200 seats. During the Olympic Winter Games, it will serve as an arena for introducing Korean culture and arts to the world while exchanging culture with other countries. And after the Olympics, it will remain as a representative Olympic heritage and cultural space that can contribute to promotion of unique regional traditional culture.
To enhance accessibility to stadiums and seamless transportation flow in downtown of Gangneung, the city government will construct additional roads and expand existing streets, starting in 2015. With a budget of 77.1 billion won (approximately $70.8 million), it will build 4 new roads in total length of 6.45 kilometers. More importantly, the national project of constructing a railroad between Gangneung and Wonju in length of 120.7 kilometers is under way, targeting to complete the project by 2017 with a total budget of 3.841 trillion won (approximately $3.53 billion). When the railway is completed, it will take slightly over 1 hour from Seoul to Gangneung by train, allowing tourists from Seoul and Gyeonggi-do as well as those in other parts of the country to easily get access to the coastal city of Gangneung.
As part of campaign of welcoming the Olympic Winter Games, the city government has been conducting the ‘Smile Campaign of Citizens for 2018’ since last year. The campaign encourages citizens to voluntarily welcome visitors from other parts of the country and world with smile to help them have impressive experience and feel comfortable. To promote participation of citizens, the city authority conducted on December 24, 2014 a large scale street campaign at 10 busiest crossroads in the city. Major activities of the campaign include ‘harmony’, ‘kindness’, ‘social order’, ‘cleanness’ and ‘services’. Aiming to successfully implement the smile campaign, the city authority trained about 20 lecturers to provide lectures to citizens, expecting to enhance and mature citizenship as an intangible heritage.
In an effort to build an environment that can minimize inconvenience of visitors and ensure safe and comfortable stay, the city government is concentrating efforts on training volunteer workers who speak diverse foreign languages. It is also providing foreign language and guide training programs to taxi drivers. To expand lodging and hospitality facilities, it plans to promote home-stay participation movement with the goal of selecting 3,000 homes to provide convenience to visitors, while improving facilities of restaurants.
Korea began to participate in the 5th Olympic Winter Games held in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1948. Markedly, the Korean team won four medals (two golds, one silver and one bronze) at the 16th Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France in 1992, and the team ranked 5th overall with six gold medals, six silvers and two bronzes in the Games in Vancouver, Canada in 2010. Korea came into prominence as a winter sport powerhouse with its strong performance in skating games. Korean stars such as Kim Gi-hun, the gold medalist in the 1,000-meter short-track speed skating, and Kim Yun-man, the silver medalist in the 1,000-meter speed skating, won Korea's first-ever gold medals in Albertville 1992. At the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Yuna Kim won the gold medal in figure skating with a new world record.