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North and South Korea Send Unifed Team to 2018 Olympics

Audrey Braun ’19 Sports Editor, Noah Schmeisser ’19 Assistant Sports Editor, Vivian Wen ’20
The Olympic Games are a symbol of globalism. The fve Olympic rings--each representing a different continent--are intertwined, suggesting the sense of unity that the Olympics are meant to inspire. 
TheGames stand for cooperation and international goodwill and allude to the unifying power of sport. This year is no exception. After a year of saber rattling and violent threats on the Korean peninsula, North Korea and South Korea have sent a united team to represent them in Pyeongchang.

North Korean participation in South Korean Olympic Games has a rocky precedent. In 1988, South Korea hosted the Summer Olympics, and North Korea refused to attend. Ten months before the Games, the North Korean operatives detonated a bomb on a South Korean aircraft, downing the plane and killing all on board.

Thirty years later, South Korea will once again host the Olympics. This time, North Korean athletes will join South Korean athletes as a united team. While some view this Korean cooperation as an incredible
step forward, many younger South Koreans aren’t happy. Many see this Olympic unity as a step towards the further reunifcation of Korea, which is undesirable for some of the population. In an interview with the Financial Times, Kim Sun-kyu, a South Korean telecommunications worker said, “North and South Korea are separate nations. I don’t understand why the two should march together with the peninsula flag, which has no real meaning for either side. It is not fair for the ice-hockey players. I don’t want to see politicians intervene in international sports events and distort its meaning with geopolitical issues.”

According to a statement from South Korean protesters, “The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is turning into ‘Kim Jong Un’s Pyongyang Olympics’ that effectively rec- ognises its nuclear armaments and propagates the North Korean regime.” Seventy one percent of South Korean young adults, according to a study by the Korea Institute for National Unifcation, oppose reunifcation and cooperation with the cloistered and economically devastated North Korea. A full seventy two percent of adults oppose the integration of the Korean Women’s Olympic Hockey Team. Throughout the controversy, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating–previously at 73%– dropped below 60% for the frst time since his election.

Members of the Hopkins community are equally wary. Alessandro Amoedo ’20 said: “I think it’s a sign of weakness. It’s surprising that they are unifying because North Korea has terrorized South Korea and many other countries.” Josh Ip ’18 was also skeptical: “I just hope that they’re doing it in hopes of genuine change but I’m suspicious that North Korea is doing it just for show and nothing else.”

South Korea’s frst Winter Games comes after a year of violence, missile launches, and nuclear tests. In February, North Korea launched a ballistic missile in its frst missile test of 2017. Two days later, Kim Jongnam, the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, was brutally murdered in a Malaysian airport. In July, North Korea launched an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching Alaska. Septem ber brought a massive nuclear test, and, in November, a successful test of another powerful ICBM put all of America within the range of North Korean missiles.

Then, in his New Year’s Day address, Kim Jong-un proposed Olympic-based negotiations. South Korea suggested a formal meeting, which North Korea accepted. On January 9, 2018, representatives from
the two Koreas met in Panmunjom, a small village in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two nations.

The talks led to Olympic cooperation and an informal detente. North Korea sent 22 athletes to the Games, and, in a gesture of unity reminiscent of the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, the athletes from both Koreas marched under a single Korean fag at the February 9 Opening Ceremony. The Koreas will feld a joint women’s hockey team, coached by American Sarah Murray. North Korea will also send a cheering squad of 140 musicians and 230 cheerleaders to accompany the athletes. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach aptly summarized the hopeful mood engendered by such cooperation: “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.

Some Hopkins students have an optimistic outlook as well. Adwith Mukherjee ’19 said: “I think it’s a good sign that the two sides can put aside the differences if only to present amiability to the world.” Jay
Guo ’20 agreed. “It seems like North Korea’s offers for peace are genuine, and if they can go to the Olympics united with no troubles or scandal, it would be a really great step towards further reconciliation and possibly a more docile North Korea,” he said. Lauren Seto ’19 said, “I think it’s good that North Korea is competing because it is allowing more athletes to showcase their abilities to the world.”

More recently, however, North Korea backed out of a celebration of the Olympics, drawing widespread attention. The musical performance, slated for February 4 at scenic Mount Kumgang in North Korea, was intended to be a celebration of culture. But South Korean reporting prompted an offended North Korea to drop the celebration. Though North Korea claimed the celebration was “sincere,” they claimed to have no choice but to cancel it because of slanderous media.
Editor in Chief 
Theodore Tellides

Managing Editor 
Katie Broun

Sarah Roberts
JR Stauff
Zoe Kim
Julia Kosinski
Connor Pignatello
Izzy Lopez-Kalapir
Lily Meyers
Veronica Yarovinsky

Ellie Doolittle
Katherine Takoudes
Leah Miller
Connor Hartigan
Saloni Jain
Simon Bazelon

Audrey Braun
Alex Hughes
Teddy Glover
Anushree Vashist
Sara Chung
Saira Munshani
George Kosinski

Olivia Capasso
Elena Savas
Noah Schmeisser
Ziggy Gleason
Casey Gleason
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Arthur Masiukiwicz

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Arushi Srivastava

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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
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