NBC Sports was forced to issue an apology after an analyst made a boneheaded comment about the host nation live on Friday during the opening ceremonies of the Pyeongchang Olympics.
NBC Asian correspondent Joshua Cooper Ramo joined Mike Tirico and Katie Couric in the booth and said Japan is “a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945, but every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.”
The insensitive remark looked past Korea’s long history under brutal Japanese imperialism, resulting in widespread outrage, according to The New York Times. A history Ramo should be aware as co-chief executive of Kissinger Associates, an advisory firm founded by former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger.
“His incorrect and insensitive comment about Korea’s history has enraged many of [Korea’s] people,” wrote Jung Min-ho in The Korea Times.
Social media also erupted, with one tweet stating: “NBC commentator said that Korea appreciate the Japanese colonial ship. Do you thank Japan for the Pearl Harbor raids? Do not insult.”
Ramo’s words prompted an online petition demanding an apology from the network, with more that 9,000 respondents signing on.
“Any reasonable person familiar with the history of Japanese imperialism, and the atrocities it committed before and during WWII, would find such statement deeply hurtful and outrageous,” the petition read. “And no, no South Korean would attribute the rapid growth and transformation of its economy, technology, and political/cultural development to the Japanese imperialism.”
And an apology would soon be forthcoming, as NBC issued a statement early Saturday.
“During our coverage of the Parade of Nations on Friday we said it was notable that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the trip to Korea for the Olympics, ‘representing Japan, a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945 but every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.’ We understand the Korean people were insulted by these comments and we apologize,” anchor Carolyn Manno read live on NBCSN.
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