A Sporting effort from Korea?

The division of Korea occurred in 1945, ending 35 yeas of Japan rule. The US and Soviet Union occupied two separate parts of the country, with the boundary laying along the 38th parallel. Henceforth, have become known as North Korea and South Korea; 2 individual countries, simply sharing a border. However, there is a twist in the tail. It has been announced recently they are to unite and march under a single flag in the upcoming Winter Olympic games, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This is certain to be a momentous occasion!

Plans which have been proposed outline the possibility of a joint women’s ice hockey team, BIG NEWS. Plus, 100s of North Koreans, including - including 230 cheerleaders, 140 orchestral musicians and 30 taekwondo athletes - could cross the border into the South to attend. With plans for a smaller Paralympic team also being talked about. This would be a huge move for the nation, having only competed in 7 of the last 12 Winter games, it would show true willingness to participate in global society.

Obviously, concerns have been expressed; South Korea’s hockey coach alongside conservative newspapers have suggested the uniting of the hockey team could lessen South Korea’s prospects of winning a medal in the sport. Tens of thousands have publically expressed these doubts by signing a petition, which addresses President Moon Jae-in, urging him to forget this idea and march together as solely South Korea. Critics and those for the move await approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who will meet in Lausanne, Switzerland to discuss the matter on Saturday.

Evidently, this is more than a sporting matter, if the plans go ahead, precautions must be taken to ensure South Korean do not violate UN Security Council sanctions, which outlaw cash transfers to Pyongyang (capital of North Korea) and black lists certain senior agents from the capital. While this ‘détente’ or easing of political relations may appear progressive, ministers around the world are again skeptical. Foreign Minister of Japan, Taro Kono, has said the world should refrain from being blinded by Pyongyang’s recent “charm offensive”, “it is not the time to ease pressure or to reward North Korea”. Infact, Kono suggests their communication is simply proof the current sanctions are being successful.

South Korea’s liberal President Moon has, arguably controversially, come out and said the uniting for the Games would help improve relations between the countries, aka he is in FAVOUR of it. Saying this would only be the beginning of many dialogues surrounding nuclear talks and communication between the US and North Korea.

SO, what are we thinking? This could be a great move, easing tensions. However, with North Korea’s recent rapid advances in nuclear and conventional weapons programmes, is this a risk South Korea and indeed the rest of the world, really wants to take?