Koreans are more excited over the Winter Olympics coat than attending the event itself

“Auspicious event.”
“Auspicious event.”
Image: Reuters/Kim Hong-ji
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The South Korean city of Pyeongchang is due to hold the Winter Olympics in February, but ticket sales have been lackluster. The official Olympics jacket, however, has caused a national frenzy.

Koreans have been lining up for the long, puffy coats—officially known as “PyeongChang Winter Olympics long padding”—since they were launched at the end of October. Only 30,000 of the limited-edition coats are available, leading some people to start queuing overnight in frosty temperatures before department stores open their doors and police sent in to maintain crowd control. At a department store in Seoul last weekend, over 1,000 people lined up.

The down coats, also known as “bench coats” because they’re worn by athletes sitting on the bench, retail for around $140, which is much cheaper than similar types of winter coats made by well-known fashion brands. They also have the words “Passion. Connected.” printed in English on the sleeve and on the back. The maker of the Pyeongchang coat, a local garment company called Shinsung Tongsang, has seen its shares soar since the coats went on sale.

The craze for the Pyeongchang Olympic coats may give a much-needed boost to the actual games itself. Ticket sales have been slow for the event, while its proximity to the North Korean border has also attracted some bad press. The French team has threatened to pull out of the games if its safety can’t be guaranteed. In recent days, however, ticket sales have picked up, with almost half of tickets sold—the Pyeongchang Olympics organizing committee said interest picked up after the torch relay event took place. Tickets for short-track speed skating and figure skating are particularly popular.