1 of 17
Associated Press
In this photo taken Tuesday, May 31, 2011, South Korean prostitutes wearing caps and masks to cover their identities struggle with police officers while trying to meet the mayor during a rally against the enacted anti-prostitution law in front of the Chuncheon city hall in Chuncheon, South Korea. Nearly seven years after tough laws began driving thousands of South Korean prostitutes out of business, sex workers of the red-light district are fighting back, spurred by what they say is an unprecedented campaign of police harassment. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

DURBAN, South Africa — The victory margin was massive and the message loud and clear: Persistence paid off for South Korea in its third consecutive bid for the Winter Olympics.

After two stinging defeats in a decade of trying, the South Korean city of Pyeongchang finally won its Olympic prize Wednesday, burying two European rivals in a landslide vote for the 2018 Winter Games and bringing them back to the lucrative Asian market.

"We are grateful to people who persevere and are patient, and each time the bid has improved," International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said.

Comment on this story

The Koreans lost narrowly in the final round of voting for the 2010 and 2014 Games, but this time they defeated Munich and Annecy, France, by a one-sided margin that few had expected.

"Koreans have been waiting for 10 years to host the Winter Games," bid leader Cho Yang-ho said. "Now we have finally achieved our dream."

Needing 48 votes for victory, Pyeongchang won an overwhelming 63 of the 95 cast in the first round of the secret ballot. Munich received 25 and Annecy seven.

"I was surprised by the one-round victory and I was surprised by the margin," Rogge said.