South Korea rose from the ashes of a horrendous civil war by way of, among other things, the Saemaul Movement and the Five Year Economic Plan and after three decades of impressive economic growth that left North Korea trailing in its wake, the new nation was able to host etc, that the nation was able to host the Olympic games of 1988 – emblem of astounding recovery, evidence of a successful entry into capitalism, statement of extraordinary national resilience. With the hosting of the Games Korea was ‘on the map’; the eyes of the world watched its successful bid, its confident preparations and ultimately its impressive Olympics – 160 nations participated. This study examines the period prior to the Games and scrutinises the forces of optimism, the agents of endeavour and the mechanisms of success that produced out of terrible destruction the amazing construction of the most demanding sports mega-event of the modern world. It further investigates the special actions that underpinned an achievement that impressed the entire world – not least the hostile communist world – namely the close cooperation of government and business, the effective diplomacy that convinced influential nations and the IOC that Seoul could host the Games and the overcoming of the Communist Bloc antipathy. In essence, the 1988 Olympics allowed Korea to project an image of confident modernity and not least revitalisation that inter alia brought the reward of national self-belief and international esteem that resulted in its successful sports diplomacy bringing to Korea the 2002 FIFA World Cup. But more than this the Seoul Olympics announced to the world a nation reborn via a despotic military regime.
- Seoul Olympics