South Korea Breaking into the Big Leagues

Prosperous and newly democratic, a proud nation gets set for the Games

South Korea is ready for the big party. Seoul is bedecked with flags and banners that flutter their welcome in a gentle summer breeze. Children are rehearsing spirited songs. The bands have been tuning up for months. Soon the guests from 161 countries will be arriving: 250,000 tourists, 14,000 journalists and, most important, 13,000 athletes and sports officials. A global television audience of more than 1 billion people will tune in as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad get under way.

In 1981, when Seoul beat out Nagoya in archrival Japan for the right to stage the 1988 Summer Games, South...

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