Conflict halts in wake of Olympics

Julia Dalton, Lifestyle Editor

Pyeongchang, South Korea was chosen as the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics seven years ago, meaning the Evaluation Committee, the branch of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in charge of selecting locations for every Olympic games, could not have anticipated the skyrocketing tensions between North and South Korea at that time. These tensions have been rapidly escalating in the past year, since North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has persistently demonstrated a readiness to use nuclear and ballistic missiles against other countries, including South Korea. Many were concerned that the location of the Winter Olympics may further provoke North Korea and cause these tensions to reach new heights, since PyeongChang is only 50 miles from the demilitarized zone that divides the Korean Peninsula.

Worries were set aside when Kim Jong Un delivered his New Year’s Day speech on Jan. 1, 2018, reaching out to South Korea and proposing negotiations between the two countries concerning North Korea’s participation in the Olympic Games. These talks would be the first of their kind in two years. After negotiating at the border village of Panmunjom, the two countries agreed to not only to march under a united flag but also to form a joint women’s ice hockey team. This marked the first time they have joined athletes on the same team at the Olympics.

Athletes from both North and South Korea marched under the Korean Unification Flag, displaying the entire Korean peninsula, during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics. They also joined hands while entering the stadium and waving the flag proudly, symbolizing an act of reconciliation between the two countries since their recent division over North Korea’s nuclear program.

The reconciliation between the two countries extended even further, when Kim Jong Un’s youngest sister, Kim Yo Jong, shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the ceremony.