The ambassadors for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games include many sporting icons, some of whom know what it feels like to win Olympic gold. Meanwhile, others come from the worlds of entertainment, music and culture. Whatever their field of expertise, they are all passionate in their desire to help ensure the success of PyeongChang.
One of the most popular winter sporting figures of recent years, and arguably the greatest ever to hail from the Republic of Korea, figure skater Yuna Kim was the ideal choice to champion the cause of the first Olympic Winter Games to take place in her native country.
The Vancouver 2010 gold medallist became the youngest inductee in her country's Sports Hall of Fame in November 2016. The rules, which said that only veterans of 50 and over could receive the honour, were changed just for Kim.
As well as a spellbinding performance in Vancouver, Kim won silver four years later in Sochi before retiring from competition. She continues to be a high-profile public figure in the Republic of Korea and can be seen on television and in the media on an almost daily basis. She is now busy helping to put PyeongChang on the map.
“For me as a figure skater, it is exciting to imagine future generations of Korean and Asians athletes excelling at all winter sports,” said Kim. “Thanks to the venues in our Winter Games, PyeongChang will give live to the millions of dreams of youths, just like me.”
If the country is relatively new to figure skating, it has a long and proud tradition in speed skating. Lee Sang-hwa is a two-time Olympic champion and the current world record holder in women's 500m, while Lee Seung-hoon is another of the many speed skaters that have stood on podiums around the world, watching the Taegukki, (the national flag) rise into the winter air accompanied by the sounds of the Aegukga (the national anthem).
The Korean Baseball League is the most popular domestic sporting competition in the country, and fans take huge pride when their heroes move to the United States to play in the Major League (MLB). Choo Shin-soo is one of the most famous and has been playing in the USA since 2000 when he signed for Seattle Mariners. He subsequently moved to Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds before joining his current team Texas Rangers in 2014. In 2015, he won his second Major League Baseball Player of the Month Award. Ryu Hun-jin is another popular baseball figure.
Lee Min-ho is as actor and entertainer actor who has appeared in some very successful television series and movies. The 29 year-old has even released a couple of albums and was celebrated by fans everywhere he went on a 2013 tour of Japan, Malaysia, China and the Philippines..
“I am a fan of winter sports,” said Lee when he took the position in 2015. “I can help make others interested too. I travel a lot and can use those opportunities to stimulate the interest of others in PyeongChang. I am sure that it will be a wonderful event for everyone to enjoy.”
Kang Sue-jin was a world famous ballerina in her day, winning the Prix de Lausanne in 1985 and then becoming the principal dancer at the prestigious Stuttgart Ballet. Named a PyeongChang ambassador back in 2013, she adds a cultural element to the roster as does Cho Sei-hon, a highly-acclaimed photographer, and novelist Lee Oisoo.
The Sejong Soloists is a New York-based conductor-less string orchestra who travel the world and do their best to spread the word about PyeongChang.
US Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn won Olympic gold at Vancouver 2010 and is one of only two women to win four World Cup titles. She was named ambassador in May 2015 after testing out the downhill course during a visit to PyeongChang.
“I am very excited to be an ambassador for the Winter Olympics in 2018,” she enthuses. “I am huge supporter of the Olympics and the Olympic spirit. I think my main job is to tell everyone how enthusiastic everyone here in PyeongChang is.”