South Korea will play boisterous, hearty host to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games between 9 February and 18 March. In the northeastern province of Gangwon-do, Pyeongchang and Jeongseon counties and Gangneung city are dressing up to dazzle. Over 90 participating countries and thousands of spectators will cheer skiers whooshing down slopes. Bobsleighs will be a blur along snow-white tracks, and luges and ‘skeletons’ (small sleds) will perform gravity-defeating stunts, all for 102 Olympic and 80 Paralympic gold medals.
When I visited the country in September 2017, I could feel the anticipation (and some nerves) before the big day. Sleepy seaside towns in Gangwon-do are stirring, its national parks are seeing newer, curious hikers; locals everywhere can’t help but steer conversations to the Olympics. If there is a good time to see this country, it is now (www.olympic.org).