Accessibility links

Breaking News

Haiti: S Korean TV Channel Apology Over Olympics Stereotypes 'Didn't Go Far Enough'

FILE -- Team Haiti participates in the athlete's parade at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, July 23, 2021.

Haitian Foreign Minister Claude Joseph says an apology by the head of a South Korean television station after the broadcaster portrayed Haiti using stereotypical images "didn't go far enough.”

Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) used video footage of a riot in Haiti as Haitian athletes marched in the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony. The broadcaster is under fire for its use of stereotypical images to portray several countries, including a picture of Count Dracula for the Romanian team and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to represent Team Ukraine.

At a press conference Monday, Park Sung-jae, the president of MBC, bowed deeply and promised a "major makeover,” including installing an ethics committee and better screening system.

The station also apologized to the embassies of Ukraine and Romania in Seoul, Park said.

"Their apology didn't go far enough, but the incident shouldn't be allowed to distract from the athletes who have worked tirelessly for years to get to the Olympics," Joseph told VOA.

"The Olympics are that unique, unifying global event: all nations come together, not for politics but for the beauty of sport," Joseph said.

Haiti has a delegation of six athletes participating in the Tokyo Games.

MBC's coverage of the Friday opening ceremony quickly went viral on the internet, with some users expressing outrage and others laughing at the simplistic, offensive images. For Norway, MBC used a picture of fresh salmon. For Italy: pizza. For Mongolia: Genghis Khan.

In an English statement posted online, MBC said the images and captions were intended to "make it easier for the viewers to understand the entering countries quickly" during the ceremony.

"However, we admit that there was a lack of consideration for the countries concerned, and inspection was not thorough enough,” the statement read. “It is an inexcusable mistake.”

MBC has been rebuked before for such behavior. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, it referred to Chad as the "dead heart of Africa" and spoke of "murderous inflation" in Zimbabwe.