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NBC apologizes to Koreans for Opening Ceremony remarks about Japan

Team Japan enters the Opening Ceremony on Friday. (Getty Images)

Josh Cooper Ramo was supposed to be the guy who helped NBC and its viewers navigate a Winter Olympics that’s being held in an Asian country they may not be familiar with.

He instead got the network in trouble for a remark that left some Koreans outraged.

NBC apologized on Saturday after a comment Ramo made as Japan was introduced at the Opening Ceremony. Ramo introduced Japan as “a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945.”

“But every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural and technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation,” he added.

Japan’s 35-year colonial occupation of Korea was a controversial time that was marked by harsh rule and human rights abuse. It ended with Korea splitting into two countries at the end of World War II, a schism that remains to this day.

“During Japanese rule (1910-1945), many Koreans suffered enormously, often from rape, forced labor, torture and death,” the Korea Times wrote. “The issue of the comfort women, the victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, is one of the many atrocities that occurred during that period. Few Koreans would agree with what Ramo said of Japan.”

It wasn’t long after Ramo’s remark that it became apparent he has touched a raw nerve. NBC’s social feeds quickly filled with Koreans demanding an apology.

The network responded on Saturday by having anchor Carolyn Manno read a statement:

“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.”

This is the second Olympics that Ramo has worked for NBC. The co-CEO of Kissinger Associates, Ramo shared in a Peabody and Emmy Award for his work in Beijing during the 2008 Summer Games.

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