Designer: JoongAng Ilbo

The story behind Soohorang

February 9th kicks off the opening ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics, or PyeongChang 2018. Held in PyeongChang County, South Korea, this year’s Olympic games promise to be unforgettable for both athletes and spectators alike. And as is the long-standing tradition for the games, two Olympic mascots have been selected and approved by the International Olympic Committee Executive Board — Soohorang and Bandabi.

Soohorang is a white tiger and the official mascot for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. While it might be easy to assume that a white tiger was chosen because of how its fur color reminds us of snow and ice, there’s much more symbolism to the process. Korean mythology regards white tigers to be guardian animals for the Republic of Korea. These animals are sacred symbols of strength and protection. Soohorang is a spirited, passionate character, but he will also protect all participating in the 2018 games.

Even more significance is found in Soohorang’s name. “Sooho” means “protection” in Korean, while “Rang” is derived from the Korean word “ho-rang-I” which means “tiger.” The word also appears as the last letter of “Jeong-seon A-ri-rang,” a traditional folk song in the Gangwon Province. This is where PyeongChang is located and where the Olympic Games will be held.

Meet the Mascot