The Urban Legend

Korea unites for the Olympics

Tikloh Bruno-Basaing

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The Korean Peninsula has been saturated with conflict between North and South Korea for decades due to war and politics. Like in many cultures, athletics have been able to provide a level of harmony between the countries. In the past, North and South Korea have united in the name of sports, where their first joint team was a women’s table tennis team in the World Table Tennis Championships in Japan in 1991. The divided nations have united many times under the flag in opening ceremonies in several Olympic games, including most recently, the ‘18 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

This winter, athletes from North and South Korea marched in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games together under the Korean Unification flag: a white and blue flag of the Korean Peninsula. This act was a result of political breakthroughs between the rival countries. On New Years Day of 2018, Kim Jong Un said in his New Year’s Address that he intended to send North Korean delegates to the 2018 games. Representatives met in the bordering town of Panmunjom, according to the Chicago Tribune, where South Korea agreed to lift sanctions and travel bans against the north. North Korea planned to send a team of journalists, country officials, and a cheerleading squad of 230 members.

A large presence early in the games were the North Korean cheerleaders, with their exceptional organization and choreography in the stands. They danced and sang together at the women’s ice hockey match between Sweden and the unified team of North and South Korea. The unified team and relations represent steps towards peace within Korea. Beyond the athletes on the slopes, inter-Korean military forces have been retracted from border tasks and action of the reuniting of families has resumed. A messenger from Kim Jong Un said, “we also clarified our position that [the North and South] cooperate based on mutual respect and stop actions heightening tensions on both sides and that we need to immediately resume talks to discuss issues regarding denuclearization and other related issues to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.” These actions were described as acts towards peace, but the controversy and history between the countries leave the motives and outcomes uncertain.

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The School Newspaper of The Urban School of San Francisco
Korea unites for the Olympics