Joshua Cooper Ramo, a sports analyst from NBC, was recently relieved of his post over his insensitive remarks about Korea that offended many people from country – even non-Koreans – during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Ramo was tasked to commentate for the United States broadcaster’s coverage of the Olympics on Friday, according to Korea Times.
“Now representing Japan, a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945, but every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation,” he said during a live broadcast at the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Ramo’s comment upset many online who left angry messages on NBC News’ FaceBook page.
“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 of the comments said.
NBC, the network that is exclusively broadcasting the Olympics in the U.S., officially released a statement offering an apology to viewers, as well as the committee who organized the event. An unnamed spokesperson from the network also told Korea Times on Sunday that Ramo has been removed from his duty as a commentator at the event.
“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. NBC has great respect and admiration for South Korea and its people,” the official said in the statement.
It also said that Ramo was hired by the network “to serve as an Asia expert during the opening ceremony. His role was to give an overview to our viewers of the host country and this region of the world.”
It is true that the Korean peninsula became a colony of Japan from 1910 to 1945; where Ramo is misinformed, however, is how the Korean people feel about the colonial period. The country suffered immensely during the Japanese occupation, which involved forced labors, torture, death, and even the sexual enslavement of women.
While there are cultural exchanges made between both countries, such as a shared love for Japanese animation or Korean music, the past has not been forgotten by the Korean people and serves as a bitter memory that defines their collective suffering.
The 2018 Winter Olympics is scheduled to run from February 9 until February 25. K-pop artists EXO and CL are reportedly tapped to perform during the closing ceremony; Ramo, however, will not be around to comment on their performance.