By Kobe King
By Stephanie Lingenfelter
Editor in Chief
Big changes are happening in foreign affairs with the Koreas joining forces for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. According to CNN, the opening ceremony takes place Feb. 9 and will showcase 22 North Korean athletes marching with nearly 100 South Korean athletes under a unified flag. Of the 22 athletes, 15 are women and seven are male. They will be competing in five events: ice hockey, figure skating, short track speed skating, cross-country skiing and alpine skiing.
According to the New York Times, this will be the first time in eight years North Korea has participated in the Winter Olympics. They have participated in the Summer Olympics since 1972, excluding ‘84 and ‘88. They boycotted the ‘88 Olympics because cohosting fell through. To express their anger to fellow countries, they placed a bomb on a Korean Air passenger plane, killing all 115 people on board.
Minus the two years they didn’t participate, North Korea has brought home 16 gold medals from the Summer Olympics and zero from Winter. However, that might change after this year. Social Studies teacher Dan Rector does not have high hopes for them since they are an isolated country.
“I would say the odds are they won’t perform exceptionally well there. They’re [a] relatively small country [and] malnutrition is a big thing. They’re really closed off from the outside world and new techniques and things like that, so I don’t expect them to have a incredibly strong showing,” Rector said.
At first, North Korea entered two figure skaters, Ryom Tae-ok and Kim Ju-sik. To get into the Olympics, the participant has to enter a national tournament and qualify for the Winter Olympics, but the Olympic Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea failed to enter them by the Oct. 30 deadline. Then on Jan. 9, 2018, North Korea and South Korea agreed to let the country compete in the 2018 Olympics. The hope is the temporary alliance for the Olympics will ease tensions between the two countries as well as between the US and North Korea.
Rector doesn’t think anything negative will happen because of the Olympic truce. He thinks this decision for North Korea to join the Olympics is acceptable.
“I think it’s acceptable; I don’t know really if it’s a good idea or bad idea but the whole tradition with the Olympic [truce]; it’s supposed to be a time of truce. I am going all the way back to the ancient Greeks. People have been able to participate together in peace regardless of whether they have hostilities with each other and any other country out the time,” Rector said.
According to Mirror, North Korea has been known for using a lot of propaganda during the Olympics to tell their citizens that they have won the Olympics when they really didn’t. For example, in the 2016 Rio Olympics it was recorded that North Korea won two gold medals, but North Korean news recorded that they won 13 gold medals with the U.S. winning zero gold medals. Rector thinks this will probably happen after the 2018 Winter Olympics too.
Hopefully this temporary union will promote peace for the two unions.