Behind the Scenes of the PyeongChang 2018 Opening Ceremony

A magical night that will be remembered forever, the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games 2018 has come to a close.

Years of preparation go into an Opening Ceremony starting with a sucessful bid, then progressing to an idea on a sketch pad, to building sets, to dress reharesels, all to entertain the world and celebrate the values of the Olympic Games.

We caught up with some of the special people that make an opening ceremony possible while discovering the extent of their amazing dedication.

Choi Sun-woo

Sun Woo was selected as the young student of Hoenggye to accompany IOC President Thomas Bach during the Opening Ceremony. Sun Woo carried out her dutes like a pro and when we caught up with her backstage, she mentioned she’d love to work at putting an Olympic Games together some day.

Waiting patiently for her curtain call, with hardly a nerve in sight, she shared her love of drawing and how she was enjoying her role in the whole experience.

Just Jerk

A hip hip dance crew like no other, Just Jerk served as the perfect transition from the calm procession of tradition to the excitement of the cauldron lighting.

The group’s participation in the Opening Ceremony was one of the many secrets kept under wraps from the public, a secret the band were committed to keep.

“We just said that we have a local event to attend.” This was the humorous explanation Youngjae Sung, the leader of dance crew Just Jerk, gave for his whereabouts on the night of the Opening Ceremony when his friends and family inquired.

As Youngjae talked with pride about his group’s privileged call up to perform, the other members, all sat in a circle, nodding in agreement with their leader.

“We were able to put together this brand new show, with brand new moves…. [Our] actual practice period is actually one week, but preparation time took longer than that,” revealed Youngjae.

Any witness to the group’s mesmerizing performance will surely be impressed to hear about the short turn around time. It is after all, no easy attempt to replicate a flame through interpretive dance.

The group had high hopes for the night and Youngjae set out his expectations for the evening, echoing the organisers’ message of peace. “We wish for a safe ceremony. The whole world is watching, we want this to end in peace. We want everyone to enjoy the show, the staff the crew and the audience.“

During the interview, Executive Creative Director of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies Song Seung-whan visited Just Jerk to wish them luck. commending them on their important roles in the Opening Ceremony.

This is an Olympic Games for a whole new generation of Koreans. Just Jerk crewmember Maeng Han Jun is delighted that he can experience PyeongChang 2018 with such a unique perspective.

For many Korean children, distant memories of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, may linger, reignited every so often by their older relatives’ stories of the Games.

Now he can tell tales of his performance for years to come.

“It's glorious to be here. My parents' generation had a great experience at the Games in 1988. Now I have a second story to tell in the family, I’m very glad…now we have something to tell our children in the future.”

As Choi Jun Ho from Just Jerk explained, it was hard not to get emotional and get swept up in the moment.

“We had a rehearsel the other day and after that I was so touched that I cried. It was an honour to be here on such a big stage. I was dancing so hard’ [in my role] as a national representative.”

Tim Goddard ‘The Fire Man’

Fire (and fireworks) played a huge roll in the Opening Ceremony and nobody experienced this more than the many specially trained performance artists involved in the pyro performances: Dokkaebi’s Revelry, The Flame of Passion and The Flame of Fun. Tim Goddard a professional pyro artist gave us a glimpse of his unque perspective among the flames.

“It’s a pretty special event for me. I do a very specialised form of fire spinning with a weight and string attached…we started preparation for our part a few months ago.”

The burning question: “Do fire artists have much experience with winter weather?”

“It’s a first for me doing what I do in this cold,” said Tim who was involved in both a solo and group performance. “Ha.Ha, I’ve never had my hands get numb during a performance before. So, I’ve adjusted for that.”

Tim, Another artist unphased by the pressures of a stadium crowd and a global audience gave some advice on staying focused under pressure.

“When you get that really loud big crowd, it turns in to your background sound and then you just do what you’re doing. It creates a sense of separation. It’s like standing next to a giant wall. You might never know that there is a top unless someone points it out.”

HA Woo-yeon

Every make up artist had 10 performers each to manage before the opening ceremony with a maximum of 40 minutes to spend carefully crafting each design.

Make up artist HA Woo-yeon, experimented with special gels and other heat resistant materials to ensure that each character’s makeup would resist the high intensity flames of the pyro performances.

She explained that although the fire perfomers will wear masks, the high definition cameras will still pick up the detailed eye make up from underneath their goggles.
For professionals like Woo-yeon, the opening ceremony is a gallery for the whole world to see her work.

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