They are inspired by Korean culture and traditions, and their design resembles the texture of tree trunks, as the tree symbolises the work that has gone into developing Korean culture and the Games themselves: the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang medals have been unveiled, at a ceremony held in Seoul.
Superbly crafted works of art in their own right, they were created by the celebrated designer Lee Suk-woo, who incorporated Hangeul – the Korean alphabet and the foundation of Korean culture – into their design through a series of three-dimensional consonants.
These consonants stretch across the face of the medals to the edge, where they come together to spell “Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang”. As a result, they create dynamic diagonal lines that reflect both the history of the Olympic Games and the determination of the competitors vying for a place on the podium.
While the obverse of the medals shows the Olympic rings, the reverse features the name of the discipline and event, alongside the PyeongChang emblem. The ribbon from which the medal hangs is an equally important part of the design, and has been created using Gapsa, a traditional Korean fabric. The light teal and pale red ribbon is also embroidered with Hangeul patterns and other designs.
The medals range in weight from 586 grams for the gold to 493 grams for the bronze. In total, 259 sets have been made for next year’s Winter Games.
The medals were officially presented by the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Do Jong-whan, and a number of other dignitaries and athletes, among them Song Suk-doo, the Vice-Governor of Gangwon Province, and Lee Hee-beom, the President of the PyeongChang Organising Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG).
Speaking at the event, the POCOG President said: “The launch of the Olympic Winter Games medals today is a proud moment for us all, with less than five months to go until the first gold will be awarded. These wonderful medals perfectly encapsulate our culture, tradition and the Olympic values. We want the medal to be a symbol of the Republic of Korea and all the wonderful memories that the athletes will take home from their time here.”
They represent my homeland, a celebration and a lifetime of hard work and dedication for all the athletes who will receive and cherish themLee Suk-woo Medal designer
“I was very proud to be selected as the designer of these wonderful Olympic medals for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang,” said medal designer Lee Suk-woo. “To see them unveiled to the world today is a wonderful occasion. I have worked on many projects in my career, but this is particularly special as they represent my homeland, a celebration and a lifetime of hard work and dedication for all the athletes who will receive and cherish them.”
The Seoul launch ran simultaneously with “PyeongChang at the Met: Celebrating the Olympic Winter Games for Peace”, a special event held at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and attended by the President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, who is in the city for the United Nations General Assembly.
President Moon has long expressed his steadfast commitment to the Olympic Games. He was appointed as an Honorary Ambassador on 24 July this year, and has been actively promoting PyeongChang since then.
Attending the New York event was International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice-President Anita DeFrantz, who said: “Inspired by Korean culture, these unique and impressive medals will reward the performances of the world’s best Olympic winter athletes this coming February. Their unveiling makes the Games more real for the thousands of athletes who have been working towards the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang their entire lives. Today, the excitement will definitely have increased for them.
“It is also another significant milestone on the journey to the Olympic Winter Games for the PyeongChang Organising Committee and for the people of the Republic of Korea. The promotion of Korean culture through these medals should be a moment of great pride, as the anticipation grows in the host nation towards an outstanding festival of winter sport and culture next February.”