Unifying North and South Korean teams spreads the Olympic message

“The Olympic spirit is about respect, dialogue and understanding.” The President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, proclaimed as such in his announcement of unifying North and South Korea’s Olympic teams at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games.

The Olympics are known for uniting countries through healthy, athletic competition. North and South Korea competing and carrying the unification flag together this winter could make a positive impact that will be remembered forever.

And let us not forget, this is not the first time the countries have competed together.

In the past 50 years, North Korea has participated in the Olympic Games numerous times as its own entity, winning 56 medals since joining in the 1960s. After the 1983 Rangoon Bombing and assassination attempt against the South Korean president, the Koreas collaborated in raising the flag of unification between their countries in sporting events in 1991 and the early 2000s in Olympics, making a statement of unification during the tragedy.

After being separated for 73 years, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, said in his 2018 New Year’s address that he wanted to make amends and create a peaceful environment, thus joining the Korean peninsula.

“Our party and the government of our republic will develop good-neighborly and friendly relations with all the countries that respect our national sovereignty and are friendly to us and make positive efforts to build a just and peaceful new world,” Kim Jong-un said in his address. “Comrades, the year 2018 will be recorded as another year of victory for our people.”

If there is truth to Kim Jong-un’s address, this statement could be looked at as a very strange, twisted, yet tiny beam of hope to Koreans that there is a possibility that the nations could one

day reunite.

In a recent South Korean interview, the coach of South Korea’s women’s hockey team spoke about how hard it may be because of future adjustments in benching some of the South Korean players to make room for the North Korean team.

“It’s hard because the players have earned their spots, and they think they deserve to go to the Olympics,” Coach Sarah Murray said. “The players said in June not to make them a political statement and that they just want to play the game. I agreed with them.”

However, benching a few players seems to be a small issue in comparison to making a lasting impact and an ultimate statement to the world. The willingness of North Korea stepping down to join forces with the South Korean team shows, that for Korea, there can

be hope.

To elaborate on Bach’s statement on the overall message of the Olympic games, the Olympics are a few weeks out of every two years when countries can participate together. It is a time to join hands and show that language and culture do not have to be a barrier from uniting or communicating with others.

“The Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula and inviting the world to join in a celebration of hope,” Bach said.


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