A white tiger named “Soohorang” and an Asiatic black bear called “Bandabi” have been named as the two mascots for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The mascots, announced here during the Pyeongchang 2018 presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board this morning, depict two animals that appear in Korean foundation mythology and are strongly associated with the host nation's culture and folklore.
They are "designed to express a wide spectrum of emotions such as passion, joy, enthusiasm and love to actively engage the public".
“The mascots have been designed to embody the collective will of everyone for the successful hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2018, and experts of various fields contributed in the process," said new Pyeongchang 2018 President Lee Hee-beom.
"The mascots will now spearhead our communication activities and marketing initiatives.
"With today’s meaningful step forward, POCOG will use the momentum to gain more public support and excitement for the Games.”
A tiger, which will be the Olympic mascot, traditionally represents the "shape" of the Korean peninsula.
The white tiger is considered a "sacred guardian animal".
Its colour is also indicative of the snow and ice of winter sports.
The name “Soohorang” is a combination of several meanings in the Korean language, with “Sooho” the Korean word for “protection,” and “Rang” a part of the word for tiger as well a traditional folk music of Gangwon Province, where the host city is located.
The Paralympic mascot choice of the bear is seen as "symbolic of strong will and courage", with the Asiatic Black Bear also the symbol animal of Gangwon Province.
In the name “Bandabi,” “banda” comes from “bandal” meaning “half-moon”, indicating the white crescent on the chest of the Asiatic Black Bear, and “bi” has the meaning of celebrating the Games.
"This type of design reflects Korea’s unique contemporary cultural trend of using visual characters to express emotions," adds today's statement.
"Anyone and everyone will be able to use the mascots across a multiple choice of digital platforms and promote the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games through interactive communication."
Ceremonies are due to take place next month in Seoul and Pyeongchang County to introduce “Soohorang” and “Bandabi” to the South Korean public.
The mascots will then make their international debut at Pyeongchang 2018 House during Rio 2016.