By Craig Bohnert | June 02, 2016, 12:48 p.m. (ET)
Soohorang (L) and Bandabi will be the faces of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

A white tiger named Soohorang and an Asiatic black bear called Bandabi will be the faces of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, respectively. The mascots were unveiled after the International Olympic Committee Executive Board approved the Olympic mascot today in Lausanne. The International Paralympic Committee previously had given its approval to the Paralympic mascot.

Tigers long have been associated with Korea, traditionally representing the shape of the Korean peninsula. Soohorang has even greater significance because white tigers are considered sacred guardian animals. Its white coloring also ties to winter sports, evoking images of snow and ice.

Soohorang’s name blends several meanings from the Korean language. The Korean word for protection, “sooho,” suggests that the mascot will protect all who gather in PyeongChang. “Rang” carries double meaning: It is the middle letter of the Korean word for tiger, “ho-rang-i,” as well as the last letter of “Jeongseon Arirang,” a traditional folk music of PyeongChang’s Gangwon Province.

The Asiatic black bear is the symbolic animal of Gangwon Province and portrays the aspects of courage and a strong will, vital characteristics of the Paralympians who will compete there. The name Bandabi comes from the Korean word “banda,” meaning “half-moon,” a reference to the white crescent on the bear’s chest. “Bi” carries a meaning of celebration.

Both mascots have been designed to reflect Korea’s contemporary trend of using visual characters to express a wide spectrum of emotions, such as love, passion, joy and enthusiasm. This will allow Soohorang and Bandabi to share these emotions across a full range of digital and interactive communication platforms and cultures.

The PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games will be held Feb. 9-25, with the Paralympic Games slated for March 9-18, 2018.