The Olympics opening ceremony is supposed to be a dramatic affair, and the festivities kicking off the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea did not disappoint. The opening ceremony delivered a delightful spectacle loaded with Korean symbolism.
The show started with fireworks. Most of the time fireworks go at the end, but this is the Olympics. Go big or go home.
Next, a white tiger puppet performed a graceful dance. In Korean folklore, when a white tiger appears, "powerful people become humble and rich people become generous." Tigers are an important symbol in these Olympic games; the mascot, Soohorang, is a white tiger. The dancers who kept the crowd going during the procession of nations where wearing Soohorang hats.
There was a dance performance called "The Land of Peace" that symbolized the hopes for better cooperation between North and South Korea. Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, became the first member of the North Korean ruling family to ever visit the South, and at the ceremony she shook hands with South Korean president Moon Jae-in. Later, North and South Korean athletes marched together as Korea under one flag. It was a beautiful and unexpected showing of unity.
Dozens of women played drums and danced in dazzling formation...
...and as they finished they took the shape of the flag of South Korea.
Then the procession of athletes started. Each nation was assisted by a woman in a dress made of ice.
Hey, here come the Americans! The flag was carried by luger Erin Hamlin, who became the first American luger to ever medal at the Olympics when she took home the bronze in Sochi in 2014.
But no one was having a better time than the Jamaicans. Most athletes just smiled and waved, but the Jamaican delegation danced.
And as is now tradition, shirtless Tongan/meme Pita Taufatofua stole the show. He was in Rio in 2016 for Taekwondo, and now he's back for cross-country skiing, a sport he had never done until after the summer games. Everyone else was bundled up in parkas, but not Pita. The only insulation he needs is coconut oil.
Athletes from North and South Korea marched together under a single Korean flag. This is a big deal.
Then: more fireworks!
Then there was a cool performance where dancers wheeled around what looked like glowing National Geographic logos.
Then they sent ropes of light up to the sky.
Singers sang John Lennon's anthem of unity "Imagine" as dancers formed a dove.
South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na lit the Olympic Cauldron after performing a short routine.
But that wasn't the end! These guys did a martial arts-inspired dance.
Then for the explosive grand finale, fire dancers and rocket skaters performed as more fireworks than you've ever seen in your life shot off all around the stadium.
Let the games begin!
The 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony airs during primetime Friday, Feb. 9 at 8/7c on NBC. For the full Olympic schedule, visit here.