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USC Data Science Institute Social Data Analysis and Virtualization Group (SoDAVi) USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy

Press Release Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games Twitter Analysis Project: Initial Analysis The Project: The biggest Winter Olympics to date with 2,920 athletes representing 92 countries, the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games ended on Feb. 25 after a 17 day-long competition. Yet the 2018 Olympics held significance beyond its grandeur, as true to its peace message, the PyeongChang Games paved the way for the normalization of the diplomatic relations between the two Koreas. To examine the extent to which the Olympics captured public interest in South Korea’s diplomatic goal and North Korea’s participation altered the international audience’s perception of the nation-state, this project analyzes social media data for the duration of the Games. Based in Los Angeles, this project is supported by two schools of University of Southern California –the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and the Viterbi School of Engineering –and by Social Data Analysis and Virtualization Group (SoDAVi), a Korean-American data science organization. The team consists of Jung-hwa Kang (Project lead, Master’s in Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg), Seon Ho Kim, Ph.D. (Faculty advisor, Associate Director of Data Science Institute, USC Viterbi), Summer Seo (Programmer), and Min Haeng Cho (Researcher). Methodology: Our initial analysis entails temporal and sentiment analysis of the messages collected between Feb. 1 Feb. 28, 2018 in Korea Standard Time (KST). Temporal analysis refers to the evaluation of a variable in a dataset over a period of time. Sentiment analysis is the process of computationally identifying and categorizing opinions expressed in a piece of text to determine whether the author’s attitude towards a particular topic is positive, negative, or neutral. Binary (positive in blue, negative in red) sentiment analysis was performed using a subset of messages. English Twitter messages written in English from all over the world have been collected based on predefined keywords such as “Olympics”, “PyeongChang,” “South Korea,” “North Korea” and “peace.” Data collection will continue until May for an in-depth analysis of post-Olympic diplomatic relations. Temporal Analysis:

aily count with “Olympics” in Feb. 2018. (Total Count: 5,054,261)

D Daily count with “PyeongChang” in Feb. 2018. (Total Count: 1,836,998)


USC Data Science Institute Social Data Analysis and Virtualization Group (SoDAVi) USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy

Daily count with “South Korea” in Feb. 2018. (Total Count: 292,416)

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Daily count with “North Korea” in Feb. 2018. (Total Count: 274,938)

Based on the daily counts of messages with “Olympics” and “PyeongChang”, public interest in the 2018 Olympics tended to increase over time. The number of Olympics-related Tweets peaked on Feb. 25, the day of the closing ceremony. This is not surprising considering the fact that the closing ceremony staged some of the most popular K-pop stars, namely Exo and CL. Consequently, among the top 10 most frequently used keywords on Olympics-related Tweets on Feb. 25, during which 831,134 Tweets were posted, are some variations of the singers’ names, such as “exo” and “@weareoneexo” at 345,890 and 322,222 counts, respectively. The total number of messages with the keyword “South Korea” was similar to that with “North Korea” at 292,416 and 274,938 counts, respectively. The number of South Korea-related Tweets increased exponentially after the Olympics began on Feb. 11 and peaked Feb. 26 with 29,979 and 32,463 counts, respectively. There were several days in between where the number of South Korea-related Tweets almost reached the peak level. This will be further examined in a follow-up analysis. Interest in North Korea concentrated on the first several days. As the total number of Tweets with the keyword “Olympics” increased exponentially between Feb. 11-12, so did the number of times that such North Korea-related keywords were used in Tweets. On Feb. 11, “north,” “kim” and “jong” were the third, fourth and sixth most frequently used keywords with 95,204, 94,588 and 71,030 counts, respectively. Messages posted on Feb. 12 reflected a similar trend, identifying “north,” “kim” and “propaganda” as the third, fourth and tenth most frequently used keywords with 87,244, 82,968 and 50,352 counts, respectively. Such a rising interest in North Korea could be due in part to the media’s coverage on Kim Yo-jung’s visit to South Korea and her diplomatic performance.

Sentiment Analysis:

Daily sentiment of messages with “Olympics” in Feb, 2018.

Daily sentiment of messages with “PyeongChang” in Feb, 2018.


USC Data Science Institute Social Data Analysis and Virtualization Group (SoDAVi) USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy

Daily sentiment of messages with “South Korea” in Feb, 2018.

Daily sentiment of messages with “North Korea” in Feb, 2018.

Daily sentiment of “Olympics” and “PyeongChang” was already very positive in the beginning and continued to increase until the end of February, implying that PyeongChang Olympics was successful in terms of its national and city branding. Daily sentiment of “South Korea” was neutral before the Olympics but became very positive after the opening ceremony until the end of February. This implies that the Olympics significantly enhanced the international sentiment about South Korea. Daily sentiment of “North Korea” shows no apparent trend in favor of specific sentiment. The proportions of positive and negative messages oscillate throughout the Olympics, with one sentiment surpassing the other only by a narrow majority. Upon closer look, however, a few days demonstrate a relatively large gap in the proportions of positive and negative messages. Towards the end of the Olympics, sentiment toward North Korea became predominantly and consistently negative. This phenomenon began on Feb. 21, during which 63 percent of North Korearelated messages were negative. Such negative sentiment peaked on Feb. 25, the day of the closing ceremony, at 78 percent. This seems surprising given the fact that on the same day, Kim Yong Chol, a North Korean envoy who attended the closing ceremony, said that North Korea was willing to open talks with the US. Thus, the lasting negativity despite North Korea’s diplomatic gesture requires deeper analysis.

Conclusion: Our initial analysis shows that the general public interest on the Olympics and PyeongChang increased and became more positive throughout the Olympics, implying successful city branding of PyeongChang as seen by the international audience. Additionally, the total number of South Korea-related Tweets increased exponentially during the Olympics and positively so, especially after the opening and closing ceremonies. While the total number of North Korea-related Tweets was similar to that of South Korea, North Korea’s image among the general public did not necessarily improve through participation in the Olympics. An in-depth examination of each keyword will take place in a follow-up analysis.

Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games Twitter Analysis Project Report #1  
Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games Twitter Analysis Project Report #1  
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