North & South Korea Marched As One At The Opening Ceremony & The Photos Are Historic
After more than seven decades of division, North Korea and South Korea are taking advantage of the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang as a time to show unity. At the opening ceremony, the two countries demonstrated it by marching together. Here's what it looked like for North Korea and South Korea to walk together at the Olympics.
“This is the first time in over a decade North and South Korea have walked together under a unified flag,” someone tweeted, along with photos of the teams marching in unison. “For some in Korea, this is an emotional and heartfelt moment, because to them, their country is still divided in two.”
Another symbolic moment occurred between North and South Korea before the games officially began. The South Korean President Moon Jae-in met and shook hands with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Kim was also seated in close proximity to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the Olympics.
Not only did North and South Korea temporarily set aside their differences to march together at the opening ceremony, but a South Korean bobsledder partnered with a North Korean hockey player to carry just one flag for Korea during the Parade of Nations. The bobsledder, Won Yun-jong, walked alongside the hockey player, Hwang Chung-gum, as the most well-known song on the Korean Peninsula, "Arirang," played.
It was just the 10th time that the two Koreas marched together at the opening ceremony of an international sports competition, Yonhap News Agency reported. The last time that North and South Korean athletes had a joint parade was in 2007 at the Asian Winter Games in Changchun, China.
According to custom, the South and the North mix gender when it comes to selecting flagbearers. For the PyeongChang Olympics, South Korea sent a male athlete, while North Korea chose a woman.
To reiterate this message of unity, following the countries' introductions, performers took the stage to sing John Lennon's "Imagine." This was followed by taekwondo demonstrations from both Koreas. South Korea's performance was meant to display a newfound desire to cooperate with the North, according to the Associated Press, in addition to Seoul's rise from poverty to powerhouse.
A lot of people are looking at the Olympics as an opportunity for these two nations to come together amid rising tensions between them.
Relations between North and South Korean athletes looked much better at the 2018 games than they did three decades ago, when South Korea first hosted an Olympics in its capital, Seoul, in 1988. At the time, the North Koreans demanded that half the events be held in its capital, Pyongyang, including the opening ceremony, and that they get top billing. When South Korea refused to comply, North Korea said it wouldn't attend the games.
“If one gives one finger to North Korea, they will take the whole hand,” the South Korean leader, Chun Doo-hwan, told the International Olympic Committee president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, in 1986.
At that year's games, the North ended up bombing a South Korean passenger jet in an attempt to disrupt the Olympics. However, it was much different at the 2018 games, where the South and North Korean skiing teams trained together in the Masikryong ski resort in North Korea, and South and North athletes will compete side by side on the Koreas' joint women's hockey team.
While not many people expect the Olympics to end the 70-plus years of feuding between the countries, for the millions of South and North Koreans affected by the growing threat of war in the region, the 2018 Games come as a very welcome reprieve.