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"Leftist" Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games
By Kim Cheol-woong Senior Editorial Writer
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The shocking performance at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics last weekend is in the news. The performance shattered existing stereotypes of these kinds of opening ceremonies.

What caught our attention the most was that they chose the Industrial Revolution as its subject. Since the United Kingdom is the birthplace of the 18th century Industrial Revolution, this could be viewed as an expression of their pride as the root of the revolution, but upon a closer look, we realize that things are not that simple.

The performance also dealt with the maladies of the revolution. It described the destruction of nature and the wretched lives of the laborers due to the Industrial Revolution.

The gigantic chimneys symbolizing the Industrial Revolution fume out smoke. At the time of the Industrial Revolution and urbanization in London, boys, who had finished cleaning, would scream from the pitch black chimneys for someone to pull them out.

In the early hours of July 28 (local time), spectacular fireworks light the night sky as the Olympic flame burns above the cauldron at the opening ceremony held at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London, U.K. | London, The Olympic Photo Group



However, the laborers below have blank faces, exhausted from work on the smelting furnace pouring out molten metal. It is also surprising that they named this second act of the performance, "Dark Satanic Mills."

This is an expression that the English poet, William Blake used in his poem, "Milton." Later, the phrase became more famous when the economist Karl Polanyi used it to criticize the capitalist market economy, claiming that the Industrial Revolution destroyed men by grinding them whole.

The performance did not stop at portraying the infirmities of capitalism, but went on to present free healthcare and children's literature as the pride of England. England's healthcare, which provides free and non-discriminatory healthcare services to all people, is known to be one of the best among capitalist nations.

A member of parliament from the ruling conservative party stated on his response to this performance, "This is the most leftist opening of the Olympic games that I have ever seen." Reviews for this "leftist opening ceremony" are quite positive.

Kang Yu-jeong, a film and literary critic mentioned in her review that, "The opening ceremony of the Olympic games will be divided into those before and after the London Olympics." The auteurist opening ceremony, where story-telling replaced visual arts, was that outstanding.

If the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games by director Zhang Yimou was a harmony of nationalism, the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games directed by Danny Boyle, the director of Slumdog Millionaire, was a highly humanistic performance.

At the same time, it cost less than half of what it cost for the Beijing ceremony (100 billion won). Thus there is reason enough for Korea, which has the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to hold, to learn lessons from London. If we change the way we think and broaden the horizon of our thoughts, there is nothing we cannot do.

Copyright The Kyunghyang Shinmun. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution without permission absolutely prohibited.

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