A cartoon white tiger cub named “Soohorang” will be the mascot for South Korea’s 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The organizing committee of the games made the announcement Thursday and said an Asian black bear character, named “Bandabi,” was picked as the mascot for the Paralympics.
Soohorang, created by South Korean designers, is a combination of the Korean words for protection and tiger. The mascot’s white color represents snow and ice.
It was picked as the mascot because Koreans have long equated the shape of the Korean Peninsula to the shape of a tiger, the committee said.
White tigers are also considered as guardian animals in Korean folklore.
Bandabi was picked as the Paralympic mascot because bears to Koreans represent strong will and courage, and also because the Asian black bear is the symbolic animal of the Gangwon Province, the region that governs Pyeongchang, the committee said.
Lee Hee-bom, the president of Pyeongchang’s organizing committee, said that the mascots embody the “collective will” for the successful hosting of the Olympics and Paralympics, and will now “spearhead” the committee’s communication and marketing activities.
Gunilla Lindberg, head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the 2018 Games, said the white tiger was great choice for a mascot because “it’s a beautiful animal, strongly associated with Korean culture.”
“It also symbolizes the close link between the Olympic Winter Games and the natural environment.”
South Korea also used a tiger mascot, “Hodori,” for the Seoul Olympics in 1988, the last time the country hosted the games.
The organizing committee said it will hold ceremonies in Seoul and Pyeongchang in July to publicly promote the mascots.