North and South Korea To Compete Under United Flag at Olympics

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North and South Korea To Compete Under United Flag at Olympics

By Angela Reyzelman, Sophomore Editor

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The infamously reclusive North Korea recently made a breakthrough in interacting with the rest of the world! As of Tuesday, January 16, 2018, North Korea agreed to send athletes to February’s Winter Olympics in South Korea. In addition, North Korea has agreed to send a cheering squad and an art-troupe to accompany the athletes! These athletes will compete alongside South Koreans under a unified flag.

This is a major development for North Korea. 2018 marks the first year in eight that North Korea will participate in the Winter Olympics. Although North Korea has participated in almost all of the Summer Olympics (excluding the Summer Olympics of 1984 and 1988), the country has not sent athletes to the Winter Olympics in almost a decade.

The flag Koreans will march with at the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

This is a relief to many other countries sending athletes to Pyeongchang to compete, for the presence of North Korean athletes calms anxiety of potential North Korean missile tests or worse occurring during the events. Especially with North Korea’s worrying history of trying to interfere with the Olympic Games, many people were nervous. In fact, North Korea’s attendance can be viewed as an act of potential reconciliation with other countries. Senior Samuel Reyzelman enjoys watching the Winter Olympic games and believes that “these talks are moving our nation toward peace with North Korea.”

It is unclear whether this involvement is the North’s way of improving relations with the rest of the world. What is unusual about the talks regarding North Korea’s involvement in the Winter Olympics is that North Korean negotiators suggested that parts of the talks be open to reporters. From these talks, it is clear that although the main discussion was regarding the 2018 winter Olympics, there was another objective that South Korean officials intended to explore: the North’s interest in talks with the U.S. to ease its nuclear tension.

In his New Year’s speech, Kim Jong-un proposed discussions with the South about participation in the Pyeongchang Olympic Games; these talks were held on January 9. In the same speech, Kim claimed that he has intercontinental ballistic missiles that he could unleash on the  U.S. with his “nuclear button,” prompting President Donald Trump to boast of his “much bigger & more powerful” nuclear button on Twitter. So, while relations between the two Koreas are improving, the U.S. and North Korea remain locked continuous tension.

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