Meet Soohorang, Pyeongchang's Protective Olympic Mascot - NBC 6 South Florida
2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games Archive

2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games Archive

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Meet Soohorang, Pyeongchang's Protective Olympic Mascot

The tiger takes its name from a few Korean words and phrases

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Meet Soohorang, Pyeongchang's Protective Olympic Mascot
    Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images, File
    In this July 18, 2016, file photo, South Korean students react to the mascot for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, a white tiger named "Soohorang," during the mascots' first public staging event at Hoenggye elementary school in Pyeongchang.

    The mascot for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is a white tiger named Soohorang, and there's a rich symbolism and culture behind the animal, which is closely tied to Korean mythology and culture.

    A familiar symbol in the host country's folk tales, the tiger often represents trust and strength. It is seen as a guardian that helps protect the country and its people, according to the Olympic announcement unveiling Soohorang.

    His white fur also has meaning, calling to mind the snow and ice found at the sports that will be played at Pyeongchang.

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    The name Soohorang is derived from a few Korean words and phrases. "Sooho" is the Korean word for "protection," as in the protection of the Games' athletes, spectators and other participants. 

    "Rang" comes from "ho-rang-i," meaning tiger. It also comes from "Jeongseon Arirang," the traditional folk music of South Korea's Gangwon Province, home to Pyeongchang. 

    "It's a beautiful animal," IOC member Gunilla Lindberg said in a statement. "It also symbolizes the close link between the Olympic Winter Games and the natural environment." 

    Soohorang can be seen in the icons representing the different sports being played at the Games, trying his hand at each.

    Photo credit: PyeongChang 2018

    He isn't the first tiger to serve as an Olympic mascot in Korea. Hodori, an orange Amur tiger, was the mascot for the 1988 Seoul Summer Games. 

    Soohorang also has a friend, the mascot for the 2018 Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang: a black Asian bear named Bandabi. 

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    "The mascots have been designed to embody the collective will of everyone for the successful hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2018," PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee President Lee Hee-beom said in a statement.

    The first official Olympic mascot was a dachshund named Waldi for the 1972 Games in Munich. Dachschunds are popular animals in Bavaria, known for their endurance and agility.