Life in Korea: watching the 2012 Summer Olympics
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Life in Korea: watching the 2012 Summer Olympics

I’ll be honest here – I’m not exactly the biggest sports fan in the world. The Super Bowl? Sure – the spectacle, the commercials, and usually the two best teams. The World Cup? Yeah, I watched a few of the games at the local bar. I don’t own a TV, and don’t watch enough TV to be bothered with picking one up, however. In any case, a few pointers to taking in the Olympics:

  • First, don’t bother with NBC’s official site, app, or anything else having to do with the corporate sponsor. The official site for Americans requires proof of a cable subscription – something I imagine most folks that have been living here for awhile would have a hard time with. The iOS app, while free to download, requires the same type of proof, and there’s no way to get around that. Having to install Microsoft Silverlight is strike three.
  • Second, the time difference between London and Korea is +8 hours – we’re 8 hours ahead of them. That makes evenings and late evenings the prime viewing time in Korea, although some events may be shown at 2am or later local time.
  • Third, Korea is showing the Olympics on KBS, MBC, and SBS – if you have a TV you’ll have plenty of access, whether you want to or not.
If you’d like to watch the Olympics online legitmately, and don’t mind the Korean announcers, you have three options.

Option A: Go to http://olympic.sbs.co.kr/broadcast/broadcast_pro.jsp to see the following screen:

Life in Korea: watching the 2012 Summer Olympics

Click the 고화질 (go-hwa-jil, or hi-def) and you’ll be taken to a website called Pooq (clicking the other button asks you to install Microsoft Silverlight) . Apparently, they allow for exactly 3 minutes of viewing, after which you’ll be asked to log-in. There is a registration form in Korean, but I’d just as soon keep the original SBS page in another window, then click it again to watch another 3 minutes without bothering to register.

Option B: Head to http://k.kbs.co.kr/Home/LiveView/11 to head directly to the following screen:

Life in Korea: watching the 2012 Summer Olympics

You’ll have to sit through 3 non-skippable, non-stoppable commercials (go grab a drink), and the service had some buffering issues. It did, however, look spectacular on full-screen – as good as any hi-def TV. Note that this shows whatever is on TV at the given time – Olympics or no.

Option C: Head to http://olympic.imbc.com/default.aspx?onair=1. You may see the following pop-up:

Life in Korea: watching the 2012 Summer Olympics

It’s asking you to download a small program that’ll let you watch the live broadcast. Click the purple button. After downloading, install it as you would any other program (it showed a lot of gibberish on my screen), then restart your browser and head back to http://olympic.imbc.com/default.aspx?onair=1. When all is said and done, you should see the live broadcast:

Life in Korea: watching the 2012 Summer Olympics

Note that the schedule is shown on the right-hand side (yours will differ):

Life in Korea: watching the 2012 Summer Olympics

Hopefully your hangeul skills are up to the challenge – if there’s something happening live, you’ll see an orange arrow to head to the live version.

But what about some other options? At this point in time, justin.tv and vipbox.tv seem filled with links to other live broadcasts from around the world – the sort of broadcasts that are limited by IP address. If you’re keen on using a proxy, then you’re probably watching something already. If you’re not, or if you’re less familiar with how these things work, check out www.tv2korea.com for making it look like your online traffic like it’s coming from somewhere else. It goes without saying that a lot of bars are showing the games – the Sin Bin in Itaewon, among many others – so ask them to turn them on. Their selection may be limited to what’s happening at any given time, of course – check the schedule at the official website – http://www.london2012.com/schedule-and-results/.

Where are you watching the Olympics? Rooting for your home country or the Korean team?