By: Zach Strober ’19
South Korea announced that they would march under a unified flag with North Korea for the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This marks the first time since 2006 that the countries have agreed to march together. South Korea’s Unification Ministry also added that they would be forming a joint women’s ice hockey team with North Korea.
The announcement followed days of deliberations in the demilitarized zone and comes just a week after it was announced that the North and South had come to an agreement that allowed North Korea to participate in the 2018 games, with the approval of the IOC.
Due to trade sanctions that North Korea has faced from the rest of the world because their nuclear programs, they have been rather isolated from the rest of the world for a while. North Korea’s participation in the Olympics could put an end to the sanctions.
“I hope the world responds positively to North Korea appearing in the Olympics,” Matt Rowan ’19 said. “I think it is a huge step in integrating North Korea back into the global community.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, North Korea will send a “cheering squad” of 230 people to Pyeongchang with the athletes. In addition, North Korea will be sending journalists, a taekwondo demonstration team and high-level officials.”
The joint flag will feature a blue silhouette of the Korean peninsula as well as the islands that surround the peninsula. This flag was first used at the 1991 table tennis championships but hasn’t been used in over 10 years, going back to the 2006 Olympics.
While some officials, such as United Nations General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia, believe that the joint Korean team could be a breakthrough, others remain skeptical.
“It is not time to ease the pressure or reward North Korea,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said. He also added that North Korea’s willingness to engage in dialogue could be a sign that the economic sanctions against them are working, which include a stangle on the North’s energy supplies.
“While this is a big step for Korea, loosening any sanctions on the North would be a huge mistake,” Cam Day ’18 said. “They still have a long ways to go until they can be seen as a non threat to the rest of the world.”