Stuffed animals take center stage in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics

Stuffed animals take center stage in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter OlympicsWinners of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics get to step on the awards podium only once. But the stuffed animals of the Olympics mascot get to do it all the time. In fact, they are a vital part of each medal giving ceremony.

Until now it was traditional that the winners during medal ceremonies receive their medals and floral bouquets. But the organizers of PyeongChang 2018 have a different idea – stuffed animals.

Taking center stage is the mascot Soohorang. He’s a white tiger and is designed to honor the heritage of South Korea. The tiger also mixes up Olympic motives and has a cute hat. Each hat is gold, silver or bronze, depending on the medal.

Every medal winner during the 2018 Winter Olympics will get a Soohorang stuffed animal. Fox News says Soohoo translates in Korean to protection. It’s a symbol that Soohorang is there to protect athletes, spectators and other participants at the Olympics.

The animal’s duty to defend can be found throughout Korean history, such as how tiger statues stand guard at the royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. The back half of the name, “rang,” derives from “Ho-rang-i,” which is the Korean word for tiger. Rang is also part of the name of a known folk song — “Jeong-seon A-ri-rang” — which heralds from the region where the games are taking place.

The mascot also was chosen because Koreans have compared the shape of the Korean Peninsula to the shape of a tiger, according to the Pyeongchang organizing committee, who announced the mascot in 2016. Given the high popularity of Soohorang, his stuffed animal sales could be quite big. Plus, he’s quite cute.