By Haleigh Whisted
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
The world has watched tensions grow between North and South Korea for many years, making it easy to feel that there will never be hope for one unified Korea. However, this pessimism has diminished as both countries march under one unified flag for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
In 1948, The North Korean and South Korean leaders each announced their claim over the Korean peninsula, creating a divide between the two. Soon, the North started the Korean War in 1950, only making matters worse. By the end of the war, the population had plummeted by 10 percent in North Korea and tensions had grown due to drastic differences in leadership.
There have been multiple Olympic games where North and South Korea have tried to team up but could never agree on each other’s conditions. Finally, in the 2000 Olympics at Sydney, Australia, the two countries competed together on one team. This statement showed a lot of promise for the two countries, but that is nothing compared to the two teams marching underneath one flag during the 2018 Olympics, located in South Korea.
This unification taking place in the location where the Korean War occurred, is an excellent step for a more peaceful Korea. It shows promise for a brighter future and growth as one country. Two nations coming together for a worldwide sports competition, when the two are so vastly different, shows that even a slight fraction of stubbornness can break to bring people together and highlight the urge for harmony.
North Korea is, without a doubt, attempting to shine a brighter light on their country by unifying with South Korea, the universally favored side of Korea. Maybe peace is something that North Korea wants with its southern companion, but its dictator does not appear to be thinking of changing the political climate of his country any time soon. Kim Jong Un has also made other strong gestures toward peace with South Korea by inviting its president, Moon Jae-in, to visit the capital, Pyongyang.
Moon allowed North Korea to not only participate in the games, but also send 22 of its athletes and multiple performers and cheerleaders to represent their country. Some might wonder why South Korea would allow its participation due to North Korea’s violent background, but their reasoning could be that excluding it would only increase tensions. A good relationship between the two nations could also benefit South Korea, and other countries, if Moon successfully persuades Kim to stop his nuclear threats.
While this partnership in the Olympics affects the two Korean countries, it also affects nations that formed alliances with them. The U.S., for instance, is one of South Korea’s allies, and has always been against engagement with North Korea. The strength of the two nations’ relationship may run the risk of deteriorating due to Moon going against the United States’ warning to not engage with North Korea.
In the long run, the opportunity that South Korea took to work with North Korea, instead of against, probably helped with killing some of the resentment the two countries had for each other. There is a lot of promise for the future political relationship of these nations.
Haleigh is a sophomore journalism and art major. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.