North Korea at the Olympics

By, Annie A. ’21

Among incredible athletics, medals, and national pride, these Olympic games have been an expression of diplomatic good faith on the part of North Korea. As the trials started around October of 2017, concerns around the geographic placement of Pyeongchang in close relationship to North Korea made some athletes, bureaucrats, and future spectators nervous. The communist nation has held many military demonstrations as well as ballistic missile tests to show their strength as a world power. Many nations, including the entire U.N., have had growing concerns about North Korea’s violent tendencies; with growing tensions and piling sanctions, countries attempt to curb the nation’s growing military regime.  

To stress diplomatic relations even farther, it was announced on January 20th that North Korea would be competing in the Olympics. According to the Pyeongchang 2018 Committee, North Korea’s 22 athletes competed in ice hockey, figure skating, short track speed skating, cross-country skiing and alpine skiing.

North and South Korea developed plans to march together in the Opening Ceremony of the games under a unified flag, as well as add North Korean players to the Women’s Ice Hockey team. The closing ceremony featured athletes from the “Republic of Korea,” rather than dividing the two independently recognized states. These events show a willingness to work together after a brutal and bloody civil war in the 1950s that led to the split of the Korean Peninsula. The Olympics themselves have been relatively absent of political tension between nations, but they are no promise of peace. Do these Olympic Games signify hope for a peaceful future, or is it only a short ceasefire between North Korea and much of the remainder of the world?  “It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think it’ll have any lasting impact,” says history teacher Ms. Grant. Even though the relationships built through the Olympics may not last, it sets a precedent for harmonious interactions in the future.