Pyeongchang Olympics, North + South Korean Relations

Helen Kim, Reporter

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After sixteen days of competition, the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea has come to a close. One of the most memorable scenes at the Olympics was the show of unification between North and South Korea, as athletes from both countries marched under a common Korean flag. The Games were not only an international multi-sport event, but a turning point for inter-Korean relations.

The Olympics began on February 9, where Kim Yo-Jong — sister of the North Korean supreme leader, Kim Jong-un — attended the opening ceremony. Since the pause of the still ongoing Korean war, this was the first time that a member of the Kim dynasty visited South Korea. South Korean president Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-Jong, and watched the delegations from both countries march under the unification flag during the Parade of Nations.

“Many considered it an impossible dream to have an Olympics of peace, in which North Korea would participate and the two Koreas would form a joint team,” President Moon said in an address to the International Olympic Committee when speaking about Korea’s joint hockey team.

Following the opening ceremony, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un invited Moon Jae-In to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, through a handwritten letter delivered by Kim Yo-Jong. Proposed to take place around late April, this would be the first summit between Korean leaders to happen in more than a decade. The planned summit has sparked hope in many Korean citizens supporting reunification in the divided peninsula.

The Korean peninsula was separated into two after the Korean War that was paused on July 27, 1953 after the signing of the armistice. However, because no peace treaty has been signed, the two Koreas are still technically at war.

The improving relations within Korea has not only affected the two countries, but the world for easing the tension of nuclearization in North Korea. On March 6, Kim Jong-Un told South Korean representatives about his willingness to negotiate about denuclearization.

“The North Korean side clearly stated its willingness to denuclearize. It made it clear that it would have no reason to keep nuclear weapons if the military threat to the North was eliminated and its security guaranteed,” Moon explained in a statement about the summit in late April.

Although the future regarding reunification between the two countries is not yet clear, the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang has opened a door for communication between North and South Korea. Athletes from both Koreas were able to march under a common flag, and were able to present the world a show of unification through the joint hockey team.

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