Attending the actual sporting events isn’t the only excitement in PyeongChang. Anyone holding a ticket to an event scheduled for that day can get into the Olympics plazas.

A small skating rink outside lets visitors rent skates and channel the Olympic athletes on a (much) smaller scale. Large screens stream the events live, and there are stages with frequent performances.

Small buildings house souvenirs, exhibits of Korean clay pots, traditional Korean crafts, a virtual reality center to try out Olympic sports, a pin trading center and more.

Coca-Cola, one of PyeongChang 2018’s sponsors, hosted a small pin trading center in the Gangneung Olympics area. There, spectators could trade pins from past and present Olympics.
This Olympic attendee was visiting his 15th Olympic Games. He brought several pins of cartoon characters, including Betty Boop, as a fun option for the children. However, he said to make the pins valuable for trading, they need to say something related to that year’s Olympic Games.
Trading pins is a fun pastime of some Olympic attendees. This visitor from Canada was at her fourth Olympic Games.

I had ordered several of the Steamboat Today newspaper’s Olympic pins after reading an article about pin trading in the newspaper’s Olympic preview section. Unfortunately, they never arrived and I later got a message that they were sold out. My other Steamboat pins had no Olympics significance so weren’t valid for trading currency.

The mascots of the 2018 Olympics and Paralympics are proving to be extremely popular with spectators. The Superstore sells items including hats, gloves, scarves, T-shirts, magnets, shoes and bags. But it also sells more unique merchandise, such as an LED light-up Soohorang and face masks (for sickness, not for snow sports). Even when in other cities, a couple of hours from PyeongChang, many people are wearing Olympics memorabilia.

Jaemo Yang and EuiJung Lee of South Korea purchased Soohorang and Bandabi plush toys for their daughter. They used a vending machine to purchase the toys rather than waiting in line to enter the Superstore.
The line to get into the Superstore selling souvenirs in the Gangneung Olympic area.
Bandabi, the mascot of the 2018 Paralympics wearing traditional Korean clothes.
Many signs, statues and displays welcome visitors to the area.

About the author

Allison Miriani

 

Allison Miriani has lived in Steamboat Springs since 2003 and enjoys snowboarding and snowshoeing. She and her husband lived and worked in Gangwan, South Korea, from 2013 to 2014. When they heard the 2018 Winter Olympics would be held in Pyeongchang, they knew they had to attend.