The U.S. Embassy in Seoul has issued a 33-page welcome guide to Olympic spectators and visiting media, and someone in the embassy would appear to have a sense of humor. Either that or Olympic visitors may want to watch out for eels.
By and large, the guide itself is chock full of useful information for anyone who will make the journey to South Korea for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. In addition to the customary advice about local customs such as tipping, gestures and personal space, and some history about the U.S.-South Korea alliance and North Korean defectors, it also contains these fun facts:
- Thomas Hong, a Korean-American short track speedskater who will compete for Team USA, was born in an ice rink in Seoul after his mother went into labor while watching her 6-year-old daughter take a skating lesson. He began skating at age 5.
- Michael Testwuide, an American-Korean hockey player, will compete for Korea during the Games. His Korean name is “Taesan Kang,” which means the “great mount.”
- The unified Korean women’s hockey team will compete under the Korean Peninsula Flag and their anthem will be the Korean folk song “Arirang.” The Korean folk song is often considered the unofficial national anthem and there are 3,600 variations of 60 different versions of the song, which is believed to be more than 2,000 years old.
But the true reward from the guide comes for anyone who makes it to the final page of the document, which contains several “Survival Korean” translations for useful phrases such as “I am allergic to…” and “Do you speak English?” The final item of the useful translations—and the last line of the entire document—leaves potential visitors wondering exactly what kind of scenarios they may need to survive. That final Korean survival phrase is “Neh hovercraft neun jahng-uh-roh gah-deuk chah its-suh-yoh,” which translates into “My hovercraft is full of eels.”