Officials from the Seoul Metropolitan Government have announced that they will hand out 42,000 tickets to low-income households and multiracial families, the latest effort to ensure there will be fans in the stands when the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics kick off next month.
Sales have been poor as the event has drawn closer, due to a combination of factors, including fears of aggressive posturing between the United States government and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un. Government district offices have reportedly already purchased tens of thousands of tickets, with an additional 20,000 additional to be purchased, according to The Korea Times. The purchases are for events which are expected to have low attendance, such as cross-country skiing and biathalon.
“This Olympics aims for social integration and is a means to enhance inter-Korean ties, Seoul will fully mobilize personnel and supplies to help the event,” said Mayor Park Won-soon. “This is more than a national competition; the event provides an opportunity to enhance societal friendships with citizens from all over the globe.” “We will work as if the PyeongChang Olympics is jointly hosted by Gangwon Province and Seoul,” he added.
The move is the latest in a long line of efforts to goose the flaccid ticketing situation related to the games, which reportedly have only sold some 61% of available inventory as of December. Another such effort is the recent announcement of a 42-day shopping festival marketed to foreigners. According to Business Insider, The Korea Grand Sale launches Thursday, with over 50,000 stores slated to take part. Other enticements include discounted flights, accomodation and restaurant deals, and lower price admission to popular tourist areas.