Dutch speed skater Jan Blokhuijsen apologized Thursday after igniting the wrath of many South Koreans by lecturing the Winter Olympics host country to “please treat dogs better" -- a reference to the nation's (mostly bygone) history of eating dog meat.
Blokhuijsen made the comment during a Wednesday news conference after winning the bronze medal in men’s team pursuit speed skating event.
"Please treat dogs better in this country," he said while leaving the conference room, according to Yonhap News Agency.
The clip quickly went viral online, angering some South Koreans, who slammed the comment as “racist and ignorant of a different culture.” Some people even called for an official report to the International Olympic Committee.
The Dutch speed skater hopped on Twitter the next day to apologize.
"I want to apologize to the Korean people. It was not my intention to insult you and your country. I care about the welfare of animals in general," Blokhuijsen tweeted. "And [I] hope we can make this a better place for both of us. I enjoy this Olympic Games and like to thank you for your hospitality."
Koreans have been eating dog meat for thousands of years, but the majority of the country’s population stopped the practice. Many older Koreans believe dog meat aids virility, though younger citizens are largely either against the practice or indifferent to it.
Blokhuijsen was also forced to apologize after he and speedskating teammates Sven Kramer, Patrick Roest and Koen Verwij threw a giant mock medal into a crowd during a ceremony at the Holland Heineken House Wednesday to mark the team’s third-place finish.
Two female fans were injured.
The team released a joint statement after the incident.
"Fortunately, things are going well with both ladies considering the circumstances, even though it was a shock to them. Let it be clear we never had any intention to cause this," the statement read.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.