Olympic Unity

February 23, 2018
HOPES FOR PEACE IOC president Thomas Bach (center, in profile) sits between North and South Korean leaders at a women’s ice-hockey game on February 10.

When South Korea hosted the Olympics, in 1988, North Korea refused to attend. Now it’s a different story. This time, North Korea has sent 22 athletes to PyeongChang, South Korea, for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“[The Olympics] are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future,” said Thomas Bach. He is president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

During the opening ceremony, on February 9, athletes from the two Koreas marched under a single flag. The countries have also formed a joint women’s ice-hockey team.

These actions are a rare show of unity between North and South Korea. The nations have been enemies since the North invaded the South, in 1950. The Korean War ended in 1953 with a cease-fire. But a peace treaty was never signed.

In 2017, tensions grew over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. But on January 1, 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he was “open to dialogue” with the South.

In response, South Korean president Moon Jae-in welcomed the chance to improve relations with the North. He expressed hope for an “Olympic Games of peace.” Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong (above, third from right), traveled to South Korea for the first time to attend the Games. She invited Moon to visit the North for a summit meeting.

Still, many believe that North Korea remains a threat. “North Korea has to accept change,” said U.S. vice president Mike Pence. “They have to abandon their nuclear ambitions.”

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