Pyeongchang, South Korea -- when her hometown pyeongchang first bid for the winter Olympics, li zhixue was in elementary school. She remembers one visit by Olympic officials to pyeongchang, when her entire class went down a street to wave flags and cheer.
Despite their enthusiasm, the bidding looks grim. Just 50 miles from north Korea and the world's most heavily guarded border, pyeongchang is seen by outsiders as a mountainous backwater of potatoes and cattle. The heart of town is a bland intersection of "love hotels" and karaoke bars. There are two ski resorts in the area, but it is difficult to gather enough snow to attract visitors.
They lost their first bid in 2010 and their second bid to host the games in 2014. But in the end, the International Olympic Committee agreed to allow pyeongchang, a county of 43,000 people, to host the 2018 winter Olympics, which begin this week. It was a victory for someone who had always believed in this obscure town, one of the most unexpected hosts in Olympic history.
2010年他们首次申奥失败，2014年第二次竞逐奥运会主办权也未能成功。但最终，国际奥委会(International Olympic Committee)同意由4.3万人口的平昌郡举办将于本周开幕的2018年冬奥会。这是一直对这个无名小镇充满信心的人的胜利，它是奥运史上最意想不到的东道主之一。
The whole city went out and danced, said li zhixue, 22, describing the day they heard the news. "Few south koreans, let alone foreigners, knew we existed before we competed in the Olympics."
Pyeongchang's weaknesses are not only economic, but also natural. It is one of the poorest parts of gangwon, South Korea's remotest and least developed province, and has a long border with north Korea. Though only 80 miles from Seoul, getting to pyeongchang from the capital used to take hours on what locals call "sheep intestines."
Gangwon governor Choi moon-soon called pyeongchang "a very difficult place to get government input," but "we hope the Olympics will change that."
Even the name of the city is a problem. At first, pyeongchang in English spelling is "Pyongchang", but people often think of it with the north Korean capital, Pyongyang, confused (effort). So, in 2000, PyeongChang added an extra letter to the English name and capitalized another, changing it to "PyeongChang," even though most foreign news organizations refused to capitalize the letter C.
Despite the name change, a Kenyan registered to attend a United Nations conference in pyeongchang accidentally made news when he flew to Pyongyang in 2014.
Later, however, South Korea regarded pyeongchang's bid as a national one. South Korean leaders are eager to build global prestige and see the Olympics as an opportunity to become one of the few countries to have hosted three major international sporting events. (the 2002 World Cup was held in South Korea and Japan, and the 1988 summer Olympics were held in Seoul.)
In lobbying for the bid, South Korea used pyeongchang's potential flaws -- its proximity to the inter-korean border and its location in an area bristling with troops and artillery -- as selling points. Hosting the games in pyeongchang, bid officials said, would promote peace between two countries that are still technically at war.
North Korea agreed to send 22 players and the two countries agreed to field a women's hockey team.
A third of South Korea's 600,000 troops are based in gangwon. South Korea requires all men to serve in the military for about two years, and many conscripts who have been posted here say they never want to see the place again, with its rugged mountains and chilly winters.
More than anywhere else in the south, suspicion of the north is deeply embedded. Barbed wire, tank traps, mines and sentries are like scars on a mountainous border. Loudspeakers on hilltops blare south Korean pop music into the north every day, and the north retaliates by sending leaflets into the south with floating balloons.
Dreams of defusing tensions and reuniting with the north are more keenly felt here than elsewhere in the south. Many of the older people in the area are war refugees from north Korea who have settled near the border, hoping to return soon after reunification.
Our dream is to one day be able to take up north Korea's train, all the way through the Siberia, to go to Berlin, Museum of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) Museum curator Lou 沇 our (Noh Yeon - su, sound), said he was referring to the inter-korean border end of roads and railways, basically let South Korea into a island.
“我们的梦想是有一天能搭上去朝鲜的火车，一路穿过西伯利亚，去到柏林，”非军事区博物馆(DMZ Museum)的馆长卢沇洙（Noh Yeon-su，音）说，他指的是在朝韩边界终结的公路和铁路，基本上让韩国变成了一座岛。
Gangwon is also home to the Peace Dam, a towering structure on the han river that was built out of fear that another Dam upstream in north Korea would release devastating floods, accidental or deliberate.
But cui wenxun, the governor, dismissed these concerns.
Those of us who live here are not afraid of north Korea because despite their missile tests and their big talk, they are not capable of fighting a war, he said. He noted that gangwon is South Korea's poorest province, yet its economic output exceeds that of the entire north.
He added, "the most enjoyable thing about the games is that when foreigners see the games here, we can get rid of the stigma and stop being seen as a dangerous place."