At Olympics, fiery optics both entertaining and symbolic - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

At Olympics, fiery optics both entertaining and symbolic

ADVERTISEMENT
Bookmark and Share
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool). A young performer participates in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Pool). A young performer participates in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip,Pool). Fireworks explode behind the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip,Pool). Fireworks explode behind the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.
(AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky). Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky). Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.
(Franck Fife/Pool Photo via AP). Fireworks explode behind the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (Franck Fife/Pool Photo via AP). Fireworks explode behind the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.
(AP Photo/Michael Sohn). Fireworks explode over the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn). Fireworks explode over the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018.

By TED ANTHONY
Associated Press

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) - Tracers lit up the night. Explosions rocked the stadium, and the acrid smoke that followed the rockets' red glare left some in the crowd coughing and choking. By the time it was all over, giant flames licked toward the sky as the envoys of two enemy governments watched warily.

It rained fire into Olympic Stadium for parts of two hours on Friday night, and no one panicked - not the North Koreans, not the South Koreans, not the Americans. In fact, everyone seemed thrilled.

All Olympics opening ceremonies are about optics, about intense visuals - and often about meticulously calibrated pyrotechnics in angry colors designed to leave a lasting impression on eyes and mind.

Rarely, though, do such pyrotechnics unfold in front of people who represent two nations believed by the world to be able to rain actual nuclear fire onto the planet.

It was difficult on Friday to watch Kim Jong Un's sister and Donald Trump's vice president sitting within feet of each other, watching the fire-filled opening show for the Pyeongchang Games, and not be reminded of the connection between explosions calibrated for performance and those that could represent actual mass destruction.

It is North Korea, of course, whose aggressive words and unwavering commitment to its nuclear program have the world frightened at what it could do next. And it is the United States whose aggressive response and unabiding commitment to a denuclearized North Korea have been ratcheting up the rhetoric in recent months and, some say, grooming the world for war.

Add to that context the South's elaborate efforts to present these as a unified Games, perhaps even a harbinger of a unified Korean Peninsula, and the unexpected, awkward side-by-side presence of Vice President Mike Pence and Kim Yo Jong, and you have an opening ceremony brimming with optics potent enough to compete with the most enduring ancient allegories.

But it was the fire that really stood out. In the context of North Korea and the United States - and the fears some felt about coming to these Olympics, given the political situation that envelops them - the symbolism of the Olympic opening felt not only slick but downright elemental.

The Chinese, one country away from Pyeongchang, came up with fireworks more than a millennium ago. For them, it meant the peaceful use of something explosive and lethal - gunpowder - deployed in hopes the noise and light would scare away evil spirits.

That's not so far off from what happened here Friday night.

By ceremony's end, when a celebrated South Korean skater turned a handheld torch into a cauldron of controlled conflagration in the name of Olympic spectacle, it was hard to miss the message: Watching this skillfully tamed fire, and the many people behind it who want the flames and the games to represent peace, is exactly what we want - not that out-of-control wildfire that will take our world to places we never want to visit.

On an evening of optics, for those sitting in the stadium, that message carried at least as far as the smoke from the many fireworks that were uncorked here.

They talked of peace, every one of them, these officials of Olympics and nations. But their explosions - their intricate, artful, beautiful explosions, crackling through the bitterly cold night - spoke just as loudly of the war that very few of them want and all of them fundamentally fear.

___

Ted Anthony, director of Asia-Pacific news for The Associated Press since 2014, has reported in both North and South Korea. Follow him on Twitter at @anthonyted

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • National SportsMore>>

  • Shiffrin jokes about whether Vonn's Olympic career is over

    Shiffrin jokes about whether Vonn's Olympic career is over

    Friday, February 23 2018 3:06 PM EST2018-02-23 20:06:03 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:26 PM EST2018-02-23 20:26:14 GMT
    (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel). Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, talks to the media during a news conference at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel). Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, talks to the media during a news conference at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.
    When Vonn says these are her last Olympics, Shriffin has a good laugh.
    When Vonn says these are her last Olympics, Shriffin has a good laugh.
  • NBA setting up hotline to report misconduct, work concerns

    NBA setting up hotline to report misconduct, work concerns

    Thursday, February 22 2018 9:24 PM EST2018-02-23 02:24:25 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:09 PM EST2018-02-23 20:09:13 GMT
    (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File). FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2015, file photo, Dallas Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban shouts in the direction of an official during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, in Dallas. The Mavericks have hired outside...(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File). FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2015, file photo, Dallas Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban shouts in the direction of an official during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, in Dallas. The Mavericks have hired outside...
    The NBA is establishing a confidential hotline for league and team employees to report concerns about misconduct in their workplace, following a Sports Illustrated report that described a hostile environment for...
    The NBA is establishing a confidential hotline for league and team employees to report concerns about misconduct in their workplace, following a Sports Illustrated report that described a hostile environment for women in the Dallas Mavericks organization.
  • APNewsBreak: Runner-on-2nd rule off for spring games

    APNewsBreak: Runner-on-2nd rule off for spring games

    Friday, February 23 2018 9:07 AM EST2018-02-23 14:07:32 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:09 PM EST2018-02-23 20:09:09 GMT
    Person familiar with negotiations to AP: Proposal collapses for runner on 2nd at start of 10th in spring games.
    Person familiar with negotiations to AP: Proposal collapses for runner on 2nd at start of 10th in spring games.
  • Strange NewsMore>>

  • French customs officials find stolen Degas in luggage on bus

    French customs officials find stolen Degas in luggage on bus

    Friday, February 23 2018 10:34 AM EST2018-02-23 15:34:46 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:19 PM EST2018-02-23 20:19:21 GMT
    French customs officers have found an impressionist painting by Edgar Degas stowed on a bus, more than eight years after it was reported stolen.
    French customs officers have found an impressionist painting by Edgar Degas stowed on a bus, more than eight years after it was reported stolen.
  • Oklahoma City receives rare lake effect snow from storm

    Oklahoma City receives rare lake effect snow from storm

    Thursday, February 22 2018 1:24 PM EST2018-02-22 18:24:37 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 1:48 PM EST2018-02-23 18:48:35 GMT
    Oklahoma City, meet the Great Lakes. A weather event known as lake effect snow that's common in the upper Midwest and northeastern U.S., made a rare appearance at Oklahoma City's Lake Hefner on Wednesday.
    Oklahoma City, meet the Great Lakes. A weather event known as lake effect snow that's common in the upper Midwest and northeastern U.S., made a rare appearance at Oklahoma City's Lake Hefner on Wednesday.
  • APNewsBreak: NY touts economic boom with South African photo

    APNewsBreak: NY touts economic boom with South African photo

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 6:12 PM EST2018-02-20 23:12:34 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 1:48 PM EST2018-02-23 18:48:34 GMT
    (Empire State Development via AP). This screen shot from a report released on the website of New York state's economic development agency, Empire State Development, shows seven towering heavy-lift cranes to help illustrate the state's growth, but the A...(Empire State Development via AP). This screen shot from a report released on the website of New York state's economic development agency, Empire State Development, shows seven towering heavy-lift cranes to help illustrate the state's growth, but the A...
    APNewsBreak: New York economic development agency issues report illustrating state's booming growth with 8-year-old photo of construction cranes in South Africa.
    APNewsBreak: New York economic development agency issues report illustrating state's booming growth with 8-year-old photo of construction cranes in South Africa.
  • NationalMore>>

  • It's OK to use nasal spray flu vaccine again, US panel says

    It's OK to use nasal spray flu vaccine again, US panel says

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 2:54 PM EST2018-02-21 19:54:48 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:26 PM EST2018-02-23 20:26:51 GMT
    Federal panel says it's OK for doctors to start using a kid-friendly nasal spray flu vaccine again.
    Federal panel says it's OK for doctors to start using a kid-friendly nasal spray flu vaccine again.
  • Nasty flu season showing signs of winding down in US

    Nasty flu season showing signs of winding down in US

    Friday, February 23 2018 11:44 AM EST2018-02-23 16:44:42 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:26 PM EST2018-02-23 20:26:33 GMT
    Health officials see encouraging downturn in a flu season that surged for months.
    Health officials see encouraging downturn in a flu season that surged for months.
  • US asks judge to approve seizure of 'Pharma Bro' assets

    US asks judge to approve seizure of 'Pharma Bro' assets

    Friday, February 23 2018 12:14 AM EST2018-02-23 05:14:29 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:26 PM EST2018-02-23 20:26:32 GMT
    (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File). FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017 file photo, Martin Shkreli is interviewed by Maria Bartiromo during her "Mornings with Maria Bartiromo" program on the Fox Business Network, in New York. "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli is due bac...(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File). FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017 file photo, Martin Shkreli is interviewed by Maria Bartiromo during her "Mornings with Maria Bartiromo" program on the Fox Business Network, in New York. "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli is due bac...
    'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli is due back in court for a hearing about whether he should forfeit millions of dollars in assets including a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album as part of his conviction in a securities...
    'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli is due back in court for a hearing about whether he should forfeit millions of dollars in assets including a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album as part of his conviction in a securities fraud scheme.
  • 2018 Winter Olympics2018 Winter OlympicsMore>>

  • Ivanka Trump to push for 'maximum pressure' on North Korea

    Ivanka Trump to push for 'maximum pressure' on North Korea

    Friday, February 23 2018 6:24 AM EST2018-02-23 11:24:37 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:18 PM EST2018-02-23 20:18:18 GMT
    (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon. Pool). Flanked by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left, Ivanka Trump, advisor to and daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks as she arrives at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Kor...(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon. Pool). Flanked by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, left, Ivanka Trump, advisor to and daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks as she arrives at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Kor...
    Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the American president, has landed in South Korea to attend the closing ceremony this weekend for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
    Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the American president, has landed in South Korea to attend the closing ceremony this weekend for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
  • 'Heartbroken' Kenworthy visits South Korean dog meat farm

    'Heartbroken' Kenworthy visits South Korean dog meat farm

    Friday, February 23 2018 3:05 AM EST2018-02-23 08:05:09 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:08 PM EST2018-02-23 20:08:54 GMT
    (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon). In this Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, photo, American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, left, and his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas watch dogs in cages at a dog meat farm in Siheung, South Korea. Kenworthy saved five stray dogs during the S...(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon). In this Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, photo, American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, left, and his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas watch dogs in cages at a dog meat farm in Siheung, South Korea. Kenworthy saved five stray dogs during the S...

    The Associated Press joined American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy on a tour of a Korean dog meat farm that's about to be shuttered by the Humane Society International.

    The Associated Press joined American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy on a tour of a Korean dog meat farm that's about to be shuttered by the Humane Society International.

  • 2nd Russian athlete tests positive for doping at Olympics

    2nd Russian athlete tests positive for doping at Olympics

    Friday, February 23 2018 5:34 AM EST2018-02-23 10:34:42 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 3:08 PM EST2018-02-23 20:08:46 GMT
    (AP Photo/Michael Sohn). Driver Nadezhda Sergeeva and Anastasia Kocherzhova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia take a curve in their third heat during the women's two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, ...(AP Photo/Michael Sohn). Driver Nadezhda Sergeeva and Anastasia Kocherzhova of the Olympic Athletes of Russia take a curve in their third heat during the women's two-man bobsled final at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Wednesday, ...

    A second Russian athlete has failed a doping test at the Pyeongchang Games, a day before the International Olympic Committee's executive board is to decide whether to reinstate the country for Sunday's closing...

    A second Russian athlete has failed a doping test at the Pyeongchang Games, a day before the International Olympic Committee's executive board is to decide whether to reinstate the country for Sunday's closing ceremony.

Powered by Frankly